Third Way Perspectives
Posts Tagged ‘Health Care’
October 3rd, 2012
With or without a fiscal cliff, health care costs are going to continue to skyrocket and eventually drown out the nation’s ability to protect our borders, fix our roads, inspect food, and educate our children. It will take a concerted effort by both parties to bring health care spending down from its current track, which is projected to consume half of all federal revenues by 2031.
A critical component to lowering health care costs is Medicare’s Part D prescription drug benefit. Enacted under Republican leadership, the drug benefit broke the mold for Medicare policy-making. Instead of setting prices for drugs—as Medicare does for physician and hospital services—Part D uses competition to keep prices in check. Seniors shop for coverage from a menu of plans and learn about prices and coverage from Medicare’s website, pamphlets, and 800 call-in centers. They are very satisfied with the program according to surveys conducted by the Healthcare Leadership Council. Read the rest of this entry »
July 3rd, 2012
This piece was originally posted on Politico.
“The mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his health care ruling last week. It’s not? Really? It sure sounds like it. No, Roberts insisted, “It makes going without insurance just another thing the government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.”
With that bit of sophistry, the Supreme Court upheld the health care law and refrained from throwing some 50 million Americans off health insurance. Democrats are thrilled. They don’t really care how the Court got there as long as the court got there.
But it does make a difference how it got there. Because what the Court did was deny that health care is a right. In the Court’s view, the right to health care has no constitutionally protected status like abortion rights or gun rights. It’s just a benefit. Rights can’t be taken away. Benefits can. Read the rest of this entry »
June 28th, 2012
The Supreme Court ruling on health care re-affirms the President’s goal of stable and secure coverage for the middle class and the nation. It is time for the Republicans to drop their fight against the law and join forces with Democrats against a common enemy: rising health care costs. Both parties should take full advantage of the key role that states play in health care, an important topic the Supreme Court also ruled on today.
Today’s ruling affects the expansion of health care coverage to the poor under Medicaid. As a quick refresher: the Affordable Care Act required states to expand coverage to all the poor under Medicaid. Today, one-third of the poor have no coverage under Medicaid, through a job, or any other source.
The Supreme Court affirmed the federal funding for that coverage, but said states should be free to choose whether to accept it for expanding Medicaid. From the start of the expansion in 2014 through 2016, federal funding covers 100 percent of the costs of expanding Medicaid, but after that, the states will start splitting the cost with the feds. The state’s costs are capped at 10% of the total, far less than their typical share, which averages 32% across the states.
What does this mean?
June 12th, 2012
With less than three weeks left before the Supreme Court leaves for the beach — also known as the end of their term — speculation around the fate of the Affordable Care Act has reached a fever pitch within Washington, DC. When will the Court decide? Will the law be upheld or struck down? Or will the Court leave it bruised and battered? How will it shape the election? How is it trending on Twitter?
Lost within this uncertainty is a bigger issue—most Americans still have no idea what the bill does. While the public supports numerous individual provisions of health care reform, roughly half do not believe those provisions have been enacted. Thus, millions of U.S. families won’t know what the Court’s decision actually means for them.
Yesterday’s announcement by three health insurers was a helpful recognition of some of the important provisions in the legislation. UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, and Humana all announced that they would retain some of the benefits found in the Affordable Care Act, whether or not the Supreme Court upholds the law. These provisions—which include allowing dependents to remain on parents’ policies up to age 26 as well as guaranteeing free preventative care, among others—are integral components to ensuring stable and secure health benefits.
We cannot control the Court’s decision—but we can go to back to basics and explain to people what is in this bill. Whether you are a progressive health insurer, a journalist, or a parent, let’s use the Court’s decision to educate Americans about the actual health care benefits at stake.
May 24th, 2012
In a rare moment of bipartisanship on a health care issue, the Senate is poised to pass the Food & Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187). This bill would continue the very successful practice of collecting user fees from drug and device companies so that the FDA has enough money to swiftly approve new products. Leaders in both parties have worked closely together to bring this bill to the floor despite a highly charged atmosphere on Capitol Hill. We are glad to see that the bill will continue to ensure the economic and health benefits of a robust FDA approval process for years to come.
The only remaining obstacle in the Senate is a handful of highly controversial floor amendments that go beyond the scope of the legislation. They address issues like the reimportation of drugs from Canada and other countries, legal battles over brand name drugs turning generic, and changes to penalties for violations of the FDA Act. Adoption of any of these amendments in this legislation would threaten the future of the bill. The House, which has yet to act, would have every reason to include its own set of controversial amendments, making final passage of the legislation difficult, if not impossible, before the September 30, 2012 deadline. Delay as a result of controversial riders would therefore force the FDA to lay off thousands of employees involved in medical drug approvals, causing lengthy delays as well as widespread economic uncertainty.
The Senate can start reversing the country’s record low regard of government by passing the Food & Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. Third Way urges Congress to pass this legislation without poison pill amendments.