The administration’s guidelines for “Opening Up America Again” rely heavily on the ability of states to develop a robust COVID-19 testing capacity, and Congress is negotiating adding as much as $25 billion to this week’s funding bill to significantly expand testing.
A dramatic increase in coronavirus testing is needed before people will feel safe to return to work and the marketplace, but an equally dramatic shortage of testing capacity threatens to cripple the recovery.
A recent study published in Health Affairs reached a controversial conclusion, that the United States should adopt socialist price schemes to reduce drug prices.
The study, “Using External Reference Pricing In Medicare Part D To Reduce Drug Price Differentials With Other Countries” argues that by matching prices with those in other countries, the United States can reduce spending in Medicare.
The proposal is not new, but it is dangerous.
It wasn’t so long ago that Bernie Sanders (I-VT) comfortably occupied the left flank of health care policy. His Medicare For All bill was sufficiently costly, coercive and utopian to set him apart from the pack.
Times have changed. When it comes to drug pricing, Bernie faces unexpected intruders on his left: Republicans.
In recent months, Bernie has yielded socialist turf to two Republicans of impeccable capitalist pedigree. First, it was President Trump, who last fall announced a plan to incorporate drug prices set by foreign governments into Medicare. Then Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) last week introduced a bill pegging U.S. retail prices for prescription drugs to those set by five foreign governments.
If the president is looking for a government to blame for distorted U.S. drug prices, he need look no further than our own. The federal government requires manufacturers to pay rebates, grant discounts, and comply with various price-distorting directives across a range of programs.
Critics cried sabotage when political leaders took action to repair some of the damage done by the Affordable Care Act. They saw sinister motives behind the decision by the last Congress to repeal the individual mandate and in Trump administration regulations that made more affordable health insurance options available to individuals and small groups.
But a new study by the president’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) finds that eliminating federal tax penalties on the uninsured and giving consumers more coverage options will provide economic benefits totaling $450 billion over the next decade.
The shrill criticism of the Arkansas’s Medicaid work requirements is not supported by facts. Health policy analysts have long been puzzled that millions of uninsured people snub the government’s offer of free health benefits. The reason so many Medicaid recipients failed to comply with the Arkansas work requirement may be as simple as this: They didn’t consider the benefits worth the effort. Yet, a study by the Buckeye Institute found that people who favorably respond to work requirements will earn far more—in some cases nearly $1 million more—over the course of a lifetime than those who remain on Medicaid and don’t increase their work efforts.
Give Working Families A Break
The Trump administration is using its regulatory authority to provide Americans more flexibility and choices of affordable health coverage, but it should take additional steps to help working families struggling with the cost of health coverage.
The administration has proposed allowing employers to establish defined contribution arrangements that enable their employees to purchase health insurance plans available outside the workplace.
But an important new option would be for an employee to use an HRA contribution to buy into their spouse’s plan at work.
When a federal judge recently ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, many in the media were caught off guard. Little attention had been paid to the case, which was brought by the attorneys general of 20 states and by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (representing individual clients who have been harmed by Obamacare).
But when U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor handed down his ruling, he suddenly had everyone’s attention. What has followed has been an exercise in opinion-forming and prediction-making—based on too little information and even less understanding of how we got here.
The Trump administration has made important progress in loosening the federal government’s grip on private health insurance, freeing up more options for affordable health insurance. But the administration has veered off this free-market track with its recent proposal to, among other things, slap a form of imported price controls on a specific class of prescription drugs in Medicare.
The long-anticipated surge of retiring baby boomers is upon us. The Medicare trustees recently estimated that Medicare Part A (the hospital insurance trust fund) will go bankrupt in 2026, only eight years from now—and three years sooner than they predicted in last year’s report. Consumer decisions and behavior provide important clues about where policymakers can go from here. For decades the debate in Washington has centered on benefit expansion, benefit reduction, or tax increases. In the real world, consumers are offering a fourth way to preserve Medicare: choice and competition.