Hillary Clinton unveils plan to lower Americans’ medical costs

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Clinton Promises Health Insurance Merger Scrutiny in Policy Plan.

Hillary Clinton said she would give close scrutiny to health-insurance industry mergers like those proposed this year by Anthem Inc. and Aetna Inc., part of the Democratic presidential candidate’s latest policy plans.WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is proposing ways to lessen the burden of surprise medical bills for Americans covered by President Barack Obama’s health care law.Hillary Clinton released more proposals Wednesday for limiting what people with insurance pay for their health care, amid an effort to show she is seeking to improve the 2010 federal health law with provisions aimed squarely at consumers’ cost concerns.On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton issued her defense of the Affordable Care Act and proposals to change the landmark health law, signaling the next battle in a war with all the signs of a political stalemate.

Americans are basically evenly split in their assessments of the law and sharply divided along partisan lines; Republican presidential candidates want to scrap the law, while Democrats support keeping it (Clinton) or expanding it (Bernie Sanders). The credit would be available for those who spend in excess of 5 percent of their income on health care, and would be paid for by “demanding rebates from drug manufacturers and asking the most fortunate to pay their fair share,” her campaign said. She says many Americans are forced to pay a significant cost out-of-pocket if they get sick because average deductibles have more than doubled during the past decade. Under the provision, if states provide a reasonable alternative that covers the same amount of people and doesn’t increase the deficit, requirements including the individual and employer mandate could be eliminated. “Our hope is that we can get flexibility with the Obama administration,” Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe told the publication. “But if we can’t get the flexibility that we want, we believe that a Republican administration would be a lot more flexible.

Clinton’s drug cost proposal caused a slide in health-care stocks on Monday, sending the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index down 4.4 percent after she said on Twitter that she would release a plan. “When Americans get sick, high costs shouldn’t prevent them from getting better,” Clinton said in a statement. “With deductibles rising so much faster than incomes, we must act to reduce the out-of-pocket costs families face. Her plan also aims to protect Americans from unexpected medical bills and help states prevent insurance companies from imposing excessive rate increases. Among the biggest complaints are so-called high-deductible plans, which offer relatively low monthly premiums but require people to pay several thousand dollars before coverage kicks in. Subsidies would then be utilized by a less needy demographic. “Without the flexibility to adopt better rules on guaranteed issue and preexisting condition exclusions (something Sec. 1332 also does not permit), it is also difficult to see how a state could get rid of the individual mandate as part of any alternative design,” he said.

Clinton’s campaign also promised to “vigorously enforce antitrust laws to scrutinize mergers and ensure they do not harm consumers,” mentioning insurers as well as doctors and hospitals that sell them services. Morgan and Minhyoung Kang found the ACA’s passage caused a sharp drop in support for health-care spending across party lines and might have ushered in a broader conservative “cold front” when it comes to other issues. Stuart Butler of the Brookings Institute wrote in a policy paper, even with certain limitations in place, it “could lead to state health plans in the future that change the ACA beyond recognition.” Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. The percentage of Americans saying the country spends “too little” on health dropped from the years before and after its passage (comparing surveys from 2004-2008 to 2010-2014*). John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey — who, to their credit, had accepted the law’s expansion of Medicaid coverage in their states — offered a shred of praise.

Anthem’s and Aetna’s chief executive officers told lawmakers Tuesday that the deals would benefit consumers and are necessary to succeed in a changing health-care landscape. Clinton would also create a process for states that don’t have the authority to block or modify health insurance premium increases to stop what the campaign called “unreasonable” rises in rates. The public could be reacting to something else, such as the stimulus policies enacted after the Great Recession or to government spending more generally. The deductibles patients pay before insurance kicks in climbed about 9 percent this year, and workers now pay an average of $1,077 a year in up-front medical costs for a single-person plan, according to the Kaiser report.

Now, she has to simultaneously defend a law that Democrats see as a major achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency and explain how she would change that law. Republicans criticize the law for disrupting the health system for too little benefit, and her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, criticizes it for not disrupting the health system enough. Problem was their so-called advocates had moved on to immigration and income inequality and saw the elections as an occasion to blame Democrats for what they held was inadequate progress.

The “cold front” idea was first proposed in the 1970s, when the public took a conservative turn on spending priorities after a long run trending toward liberalization. Morgan described it broadly: “As government expands, people become less enthusiastic about government expanding.” Here’s how University of Texas’s Christopher Wlezien described it in a 1995 paper: We observe that the signals the public sends to policymakers, in the form of preferences for “more” or “less” spending, react to changes in policy. … [T]here is negative feedback of spending decisions on the public’s relative preferences, whereby the public adjusts its preferences for more spending downward when appropriations increase, and vice versa. What’s striking is that with the ACA, even Democrats behaved like thermostats, withdrawing support for increased health spending after the Democratic-sponsored law was passed.

In a recent CNN interview, he said he wants a “Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system.” Expanding Medicare to everyone happens to be a super idea. As such, Medicare is more like the top-ranked French and German health care systems than it is the good, but not-as-good, Canadian single-payer program. But the bigger lesson is Americans tend to turn in the opposite direction of policy; Democrats won big in passing health-care reform, but the public’s appetite for more ambitious action has shrunk.

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