Throughout much of last year, critics of the White House darkly predicted that Congress’ repeal of the tax penalty on the uninsured, coupled with an administration rule lifting federal restrictions on short-term policies, would lead to double-digit premium increases in 2019.
The good news is that none of that has happened. To the contrary, average premiums for “benchmark” plans—policies whose premiums are used in calculating premium subsidies—declined by about 1% in 2019, for the first time in the program’s history.
The decline was driven by seven states (Alaska, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and Wisconsin) that obtained waivers from the Trump administration to deviate from certain Obamacare mandates.
Premiums in those states fell by a median of more than 7%, while median premiums in the other 44 states and the District of Columbia rose by more than 3%.
Responding to popular anxiety over prescription drug prices, the Senate Finance Committee last month approved a bill to restructure the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
The bill is part of broader congressional and administration efforts to address rising health care costs, one in which lawmakers are laying aside partisan differences to seek constructive solutions.
The committee is proposing amendments to the Medicare Part D program, which was created in 2003 and requires modifications to address the changing nature of the prescription drug marketplace.
The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act contains a mix of good and bad ideas for amending the program, which relies on choice and competition to provide prescription drug coverage to 47 million seniors. Medicare Part D is widely popular with beneficiaries and has cost taxpayers far less than initially estimated.
The bill’s good ideas include reworking how the program pays for the costliest drugs, relieving taxpayers of some of these costs, and requiring private prescription drug plans and pharmaceutical companies to assume a greater burden.
The worst idea is one that would introduce federal price regulation into the Medicare Part D program. More on that in a bit. First a look at how the bill proposes to restructure Medicare Part D benefits.
Rising support for socialism in the United States comes at a time when politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., promise a great many “free” services, to be provided or guaranteed by the government.
Supporters often point to nations with large social programs, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Scandinavian states, particularly when it comes to health care.
Never mind that these are not true socialist countries, but highly taxed market economies with large welfare states. That aside, they do offer a government-guaranteed health service that many in America wish to emulate.
Reports suggest President Trump is planning to release a health care reform plan soon. That’s good news. Republicans may have failed to pass reforms in 2017, but health care nonetheless remains a major concern for Americans. Since the failed reform effort in 2017, conservative health policy experts spent a lot of time working with colleagues across the country to develop a consensus proposal that could succeed where the previous effort fell short. It’s required some hard thinking about the lessons of previous efforts, as well as the failures of implementing Obamacare. This piece highlights seven lessons that will serve policymakers well in crafting the new plan.
“If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out,” President Donald Trump said last week, “we’ll have a plan that is far better than Obamacare.”
A look at his fiscal year 2020 budget shows that the president has a plan to reduce costs and increase health care choices. His plan would achieve this by redirecting federal premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion money into grants to states. States would be required to use the money to establish consumer-centered programs that make health insurance affordable regardless of income or medical condition.
The president’s proposal is buttressed by a growing body of evidence that relaxing federal regulations and freeing the states to innovate makes health care more affordable for families and small businesses.
Democrats defeated Republicans in the Obamacare repeal fight by warning that 22 million Americans would be thrown off their health insurance. They pointed to data leaked from the Congressional Budget Office.
Well, it turns out that data was completely wrong.
According to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office wildly overestimated the number of people who would lose their health insurance with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty.
Texas v. Azar likely will incite another episode of Washington hysteria and irrationality. It also will give states the chance to divert health care policy from its calamitous course.
Congress should proceed deliberately and let states lead the way.
Congress must get back to work, repeal the dysfunctional status quo, and make a serious start on comprehensive health care reform.
The “Health Care Choices Proposal,” developed by a broad range of conservative think tanks, would replace Obamacare’s spending schemes with state block grants to help the poor and the sick to get health coverage. It would restore regulatory responsibility to the states, and it would allow people enrolled in public programs such as Medicaid to redirect public dollars to private health plans of their choice—if they wished to do so.
The Center for Health and Economy found that our recommendations to replace Obamacare entitlements with formula grants to the states would reduce premiums for individual coverage by as much as a third. The Health Care Choices Proposal also would modestly reduce the deficit, increase the number of people with private health insurance, and cut Medicaid spending.
A new study argues that Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate and a Trump administration rule that would expand the sale and renewal of short-term policies will have a devastating effect on 2019 premiums.But a comparison of the “sabotage” estimates with preliminary 2019 rate filings in cities in 17 states compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests they vastly overestimated the effects of these policy changes on premiums.