One of the few major pieces of legislation moving this summer is the farm bill. Versions of the farm bill have passed both the House and the Senate, and a conference committee will begin the process of reconciling their differences shortly. Among the most striking and contentious differences are the House reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamps”) that include work requirements. The Senate bill contains no work requirements.
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The House Ways and Means Committee advanced a series of bills this week to expand health savings accounts and give direct assistance to families suffering from Obamacare’s price spikes. Among these bills is the Health Savings Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-TX. Dr. Burgess’ bill would allow any person or family enrolled in a “bronze” or a catastrophic Obamacare plan to make an HSA contribution. Today, the most affordable health insurance plans in the individual market have cost exposures too high even for an HSA. It’s the worst of all worlds: an expensive premium, a high deductible, and no HSA eligibility despite sky-high out of pocket exposure.
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Need for Reform
Health care is fast becoming an unsustainable expense for American families. This year the total cost of insurance for the typical family of four eclipsed $28,000, according to the Milliman Medical Index. Rising insurance premiums are also eroding worker compensation, as companies shift increased costs to employees.
Health care in the U.S. suffers symptoms of what Justice Louis Brandeis once termed the problem of “Other People’s Money.” Often a patient ordering and receiving medical care mistakenly believes he is not the one paying for it. This misconception is due in large part to the employer tax exemption for health insurance, which conceals the true cost of coverage from most workers.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, for instance, has officially endorsed a public insurance option, as have other Democrats running in swing districts in Kentucky and Illinois. Meanwhile, single-payer advocates have won Democratic congressional primaries in New York, Nebraska, Texas, and Pennsylvania, among other places.
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A federal judge on Friday blocked Kentucky’s closely watched plan to require many Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or train for a job as a condition of coverage.
The state had been poised to start carrying out the new rules next week and to phase them in fully by the end of this year.
Judge James E. Boasberg of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, an Obama appointee, ruled that the Trump administration’s approval of the plan had been “arbitrary and capricious” because it had not adequately considered whether the plan would “help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid.”
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