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.
Seniors in progressive U.S. states are choosing private Medicare Advantage plans more so than the national average even as the politicians who want to represent them talk about getting rid of the insurer’s role in health coverage.
New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows more than 40% of new Medicare beneficiaries in Oregon and Minnesota chose Medicare Advantage plans in 2016. And more than 36% of new Medicare beneficiaries in New York and California chose Medicare Advantage plans in 2016.
Scott Kohan woke up in an Austin, Texas, emergency room after an attack that broke his jaw. The hospital was within his insurance network. But the oral surgeon who set his jaw wasn’t. Mr. Kohan’s insurer refused to pay the surgeon’s $8,000 bill.
He’s not alone. An estimated 51% of ambulance rides, 22% of emergency-department trips, and 9% of elective cases, in which patients have time for due diligence, lead to surprise bills. These typically come from providers who refuse to join insurance networks so they can charge astronomical fees.
Congress could eliminate the Part D “protected classes” rule which forces insurers to pay for any drugs in six arbitrary categories, regardless of their price or value. (The Trump administration had proposed just such a reform, but withdrew it in a sop to the drug lobby.)
More substantially, Congress should require that drug companies selling drugs into Part D rebate any price increases above consumer inflation to Medicare, to offset the program’s taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Without reforms of this type, it’s highly likely that restructuring Part D would drive costs upward.
Consolidation in the health system and health insurance industries has been a focus for years. But a new report sheds light on how the “bigger is better” mantra has taken hold in companies that make syringes, X-ray machines or other healthcare products
The report, prepared by the Open Markets Institute using data from IBISWorld, shows a small handful of companies dominate their respective markets in certain healthcare sectors that tend to get less of a spotlight than their payer and provider counterparts.
Instead of debating how to expand Medicare coverage, politicians should focus on fixing the fatal financial flaws in the existing program that threaten to bankrupt the nation.
Medicare spent 3.6% of gross domestic product in 2016, more than six times the share it consumed in 1967, the first full year it was implemented. The forecasts I have analyzed show that the share of GDP will rise to at least 9% within 75 years—and that’s the good-news scenario. Other plausible forecasts show that Medicare could spend more than twice that.