Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend Update / Miscellany

Breath taking. The President of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade association, projects that the health care reform plan under consideration by Congress would impose fees on health insurance plans totalling $225 billion over ten years, according to a UPI report.

Meanwhile, Rick Foster, the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, issued a report last week, according to the Hill newspaper, finding in part that
"[H]ealthcare providers could curb their availability or increase fees to respond to a flood of new consumers the healthcare reform bill is expected to send into the market. The Senate and House bills would expand health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured citizens, creating a potential glut.

“'The additional demand for health services could be difficult to meet initially with existing health provider resources and could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, and/or changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage'”Blogger: FEHBlog - Create Post
I honestly don't see how this plan will cut costs. Proponents point to the prospect of the 40% excise tax on high cost plans as a cost cutter according to the Hill report. But how will plans be able to cut costs if the health care reform bill restricts the ability of plans to control costs with benefit limits and other current tools? It may be feasible to do so in a single employer setting but I expect that it will be much more difficult in a setting like the FEHB Program where enrollees can switch plans annually. The Politico reports on House opposition to the excise tax and the AP reports that
Union officials say President Barack Obama plans to meet with them next week to discuss their concerns about a proposed tax on high-cost insurance plans that would help pay for his health care overhaul plan.

The officials say they view the meeting Monday as a chance to forcefully make their case that the tax is bad policy and bad politics. Unions contend that taxes on so-called Cadillac plans would be passed along to workers.

I have my fingers crossed.

In other news, last Thursday, the Health and Human Services Department released "The National Health Security Strategy, the nation’s first comprehensive strategy focused on protecting people’s health during a large-scale emergency. The strategy sets priorities for government and non-government activities over the next four years."

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