The White House should consider building on the HRA rule by requiring that all newly incorporated businesses seeking the tax break for employer coverage do so through HRAs. Such a reform would preserve traditional employer-based group health insurance for those who have it, while ensuring that start-ups that evolve into the Googles and Apples of the future deploy the new model.
Of all the things we might do to improve our health care system, the one reform that is more important than any other is almost never discussed.
It is ignored by Republicans. By Democrats. By the experts. By the think tanks. And by just about everybody who has an opinion on health policy.
Here it is: If we want the system to work well, we must make it profitable to take care of sick people.
Last Thursday afternoon, the Trump administration released its final rule regarding Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). The 497-page document will take lawyers and employment professionals weeks to absorb and digest fully. But in a nutshell, the rule will help to make coverage more portable and affordable—while also going a long way to resolve the problem of pre-existing conditions.
Medicare for All has become a litmus test in the Democratic Party, but some leaders — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden — are wary of the political consequences of stripping private insurance from the 180 million people enrolled in job-based coverage. They are pushing a “public option” as a less threatening alternative.
A public option is sold as less disruptive than Medicare for All but it would have similar results, and a similar destination. If enacted, private insurance would wither, competition would decline, innovation would slow, and the costs of health coverage would be hidden inside ever-rising tax bills.
The most recent KFF Health Tracking Poll finds majorities across partisans think taxes for most people would increase under a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare-for-all (78 percent), and about half (53 percent) think private health insurance companies would no longer be the primary way Americans would get health coverage under such a plan.
Wednesday in Congress, the Democrat Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing titled “Pathways to Universal Healthcare Coverage.” Democrats on the Committee will no doubt fill the committee room with lofty promises but don’t be deceived: in reality, Democrat slogans like “Medicare-for-all” come with a bitter pill to swallow: socialized medicine in America.
Enacting punitive patient access restrictions, economy-crushing taxes, and massive deficit spending has never improved patients ability to get a timely diagnosis and effective treatments in moments of need.
In an ideal world, most people would own their own health insurance and take it with them as they travel from job to job and in and out of the labor market. Some employers may have better insurance than people can find in the open market. But most employers would prefer to make a cash contribution to help employees pay their own premiums rather than provide insurance directly.
When President Trump took office, small businesses and hard-working, middle-class families were finding it increasingly difficult to afford health insurance. The Trump administration already has taken significant steps to help, and Thursday it took another one. A new Trump administration rule will provide an estimated 800,000 businesses a better way to offer coverage and give millions of workers new ways to obtain coverage through the expansion of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs).
The Trump administration’s new HRA rule undoes an Obama administration action that forbade workers from using HRA funds to purchase health insurance policies offered outside their workplace. “President Trump’s new rule undoes this misguided restriction” that reduced choices for workers and especially for small businesses, White House economist Brian Blase explains. The new accounts have the potential to be transformative, much as 401(k)s were for retiree benefits, giving employees more control and portability with their health coverage.
The Maine Senate unanimously advanced a package of bills on Tuesday aimed at reducing prescription drug prices, including a Canadian drug importation program modeled on a first-in-the-nation Vermont law that would need federal approval.
The legislative push is led by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and endorsed by AARP Maine. It looks to lower drug prices in the nation’s oldest state by median age, where people have often made bus trips to neighboring Canada for access to price-controlled prescription drugs that have been the subject of action in Maine over the past decade.