Universal Health Care in America: The Recently Proposed Bills

The fight to reform health care is reaching an all-time climax. Thus, there are several pieces of legislation which various government officials have proposed. Find out libertarian solutions to health care here at the Cato Institute and Mises.org.

In a speech before the American Medical Association on June 15th, President Obama mentioned that wanted the following points to be a part of the new system:

  • Those who want to keep their existing health insurance plan will be allowed to do so.
  • Instead of having paper medical records, President Obama wants to switch to an electronic system so that important medical data can be accessed by medical professionals anywhere, anytime.
  • More money will be invested in preventative care. As part of this, he wants to encourage Americans to take charge of their own health care by living a healthier lifestyle.
  • To incentive Americans to take better care of themselves, doctors would be required to tell patients what their risk factors are. Those who continually have low cholesterol and blood pressure will receive reduced premiums.
  • How doctors are paid will also be changed. Patients will not pay for every service provided. Instead, doctors will be paid based how well the patient’s health improves.
  • Since medical school is expensive, Obama wants to create a National Health Corps for future doctors and nurses so that costs can be cut.
  • Those doctors who want to serve in less lucrative areas based on the type of practice and where, geographically, that doctor will be working will be rewarded.
  • It will be harder to sue for medical malpractice.
  • A National Health Insurance exchange will be created which will be a one-stop shop for a health care plan, allowing you to compare benefits and prices, and choose a plan that’s best for you and your family.
  • Lastly, Obama wants this type of insurance to a public option.

The total cost is estimated to be around $1 trillion over the next 10 years which will come from:

    A. Introducing competitive bidding into the Medicare Advantage Program- $177 billion savings.
    B. Changing how Medicare reimburses hospitals- $25 billion in savings.
    C. Introducing generic biologic drugs into the marketplace- $30 billion.
    D. Adjusting Medicare payments to reflect new advances and productivity gains in our economy- $109 billion.
    E. Reducing payments to hospitals for treating uninsured people- $106 billion.
    F. More efficient purchasing of prescription drugs- $75 billion.
    G. Getting rid of corruption in terms of making people pay for unnecessary treatments- $1 billion.
    H. Reducing premiums for those on Medicare- $43 billion.
    Where the rest of the funds will come from has yet to be determined.

Senators Dole, Daschle, Mitchell, and Baker introduced a bipartisan bill and includes:

  • Sliding scale subsidies for the working poor and middle class.
  • Regulating the private market more stringently.
  • Setting up local health insurance exchanges to make finding good insure easy. Essentially, this is the same thing as Obama’s National Health Insurance Exchange.
  • Making Americans healthier by encouraging them to lead a healthier lifestyle. How this will be done, is not stated.
  • Taxing a portion of the most expensive employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for their proposal.
  • Taxing a portion of the most generous employee sponsored benefits for the highest income workers.
  • Letting a more heavily regulated private market try to work first, by letting states choose to establish their own public insurance plans. The Federal government could step in over time if needed.
  • The cost is estimated to be $1.2 trillion. Where the money will come from is not stated.

Senator Kennedy also wrote a bill, known as the “Affordable Health Choices Act,” with the following clauses:

  • If you don’t enroll in a “qualified” health plan and submit proof of enrollment to the federal government, you’ll be tracked down and fined.
  • For a health plan to count as “qualified,” it has to meet all the restrictions listed in the legislation and whatever criteria the Secretary of Health and Human Services imposes after the bill becomes law.
  • A Medical Home will be created, which is a Health Maintenance Organization style of insurance. It will include a primary-care provider to manage your access to costly services such as visits to specialists and diagnostic tests. As well as, a payment structure based on incentives rather than payments for each doctors visit or procedure.
  • A system of withholding will be used which is a payment structure based on incentives rather than payments for each doctors visit or procedure. If they were exceeded, what a doctor prescribed for you came out of your doctor’s own pocket at the end of the year.
  • Employers will have to offer insurance to their employees.
  • Health insurance plans could not charge higher premiums for risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking heavily.
  • Guaranteeing issue and renewal combined with modified community rating will dramatically increase premiums for the overwhelming majority of those Americans who now have private health insurance.
  • Expanding Medicaid to cover everyone up to 150% of poverty.
  • People from 150% of poverty up to 500% will get their health insurance subsidized on a sliding scale.
  • Group health plans with 250 or fewer members will be prohibited from self-insuring
  • Health insurance plans in existence before the law would not have to meet the new insurance.
  • The bill includes a public option.
  • Lastly, the bill does not specify what spending will be cut or what taxes will be raised to pay for the increased spending.
  • It is important to note that the above bill went before the finance committee on June 17th and was met with much hesitation. So much so, that it was all but destroyed.

A final option for health care is being worked on. This one is being sponsored by solely Democrats:

  • The details were not fully released, but it is most likely going to include most of the points listed in Obama’s speech.
  • It includes online exchanges to find health insurance.
  • A public option was mentioned.
  • Some Democrats are considering a proposal to apply income taxes to health-care plans if they are significantly more expensive than the basic health plan for federal employees.
  • The cost is estimated to be a minimum of $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Where the money will come from was not stated.
In: Policy Research

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