Trump’s new rule will give businesses and workers better health care options

By Brian Blase

CNN Business, June 13, 2019

When President Trump took office, small businesses and hard-working, middle-class families were finding it increasingly difficult to afford health insurance. The Trump administration already has taken significant steps to help, and Thursday it took another one. A new Trump administration rule will provide an estimated 800,000 businesses a better way to offer coverage and give millions of workers new ways to obtain coverage through the expansion of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). […]

New Administration Action Could Give 11 Million Workers More Health Insurance Options

By Grace-Marie Turner

Forbes, June 13, 2019

The Trump administration’s new HRA rule undoes an Obama administration action that forbade workers from using HRA funds to purchase health insurance policies offered outside their workplace. “President Trump’s new rule undoes this misguided restriction” that reduced choices for workers and especially for small businesses, White House economist Brian Blase explains. The new accounts have the potential to be transformative, much as 401(k)s were for retiree benefits, giving employees more control and portability with their health coverage. […]

Turner Testifies before House Hearing on “Pathways to Universal Coverage”

Galen Institute, June 12, 2019

Grace-Marie Turner testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday at a hearing exploring new ways to expand government’s role in the health sector. Turner acknowledged that “People are hurting, and they feel powerless against this system.” But she warned, “It is hard to see how consumers would be more empowered when dealing with a single government payer. In a country that values diversity, will one program with one list of benefits and set of rules work for everyone?” She also cited a new paper by Wharton Prof. Mark Pauly showing that the share of “government-affected” health spending in 2016 already totaled nearly 80%. She also cited Kaiser studies showing that nearly all of the uninsured who are in the U.S. legally already have options for coverage. More government is not the answer; more freedom, competition, cost transparency, and consumer choice will lead to more options for more affordable care and coverage and more people having health coverage. […]

Medicaid Expansion has Louisianans Dropping Their Private Plans

By Chris Jacobs

The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2019

If any state can serve as the poster child for the problems associated with ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, it’s Louisiana, which joined the expansion in 2016. An audit released last year exposed ineligible Medicaid beneficiaries, including at least 1,672 people who made more than $100,000. But Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion has revealed another waste of taxpayer funds: the money spent providing coverage to people who already had health insurance. Via a public-records request, the Pelican Institute obtained data demonstrating that thousands of Louisiana residents dropped their private coverage to enroll in Medicaid under the expansion. Jacobs warns other states against expanding Medicaid and opening up a new channel for people to abuse Medicaid, a program designed for low-income, vulnerable Americans. […]

Another Short-Term Wager on Heath Care’s Status Quo?

By Tom Miller

American Enterprise Institute, June 7, 2019

In a new AEI paper published today, “Will Health Care’s Immediate Future Look a Lot Like the Recent Past?” Wharton School Professor Mark Pauly reviews the latest evidence on past and projected future health spending and concludes: The public-sector share of spending continues to creep upward, but so, too, does the share of health care delivered and administered through more “market-like” private-sector mechanisms. The working hypothesis is that while health care politics still ensures an increased stream of taxpayer subsidies for various forms of public and private insurance coverage, greater reliance on market-like mechanisms can deliver the goods somewhat more efficiently, with a greater range of choices. […]

Will Health Care’s Immediate Future Look a Lot Like the Recent Past?

By Mark V. Pauly

American Enterprise Institute, June 7, 2019

Prof. Pauly also details how government shapes a much larger share of spending than the faction it finances directly. He tabulates the share of government-affected spending in 2016 and shows it is nearly 80% of all spending—“not leaving much in the unfettered, market-based category.” The federal government finances nearly 55% of all “explicit and implicit” health spending, he reports–from Medicare, the federal share of Medicaid, ACA subsidies to tax preferences for employer-based health insurance. But it controls much more through regulations and mandates on alleged private plans. He suggests that policy proposals involving block grants to the states and greater flexibility could lead to better-targeted subsidies and more market competition. […]

V.A. Prepares for Major Shift in Veterans’ Health Care

By Jennifer Steinhauer

The New York Times, June 5, 2019

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday will begin allowing a broad section of its nine million enrollees to seek medical care outside of traditional VA hospitals, the biggest shift in the American health care system since the passage of the Affordable Care Act nearly a decade ago. Previously, veterans facing a wait of 30 days or more for an appointment at their closest VA health care center could seek private care. Under the new policy, that waiting time would be reduced to 20 days, with the goal of 14 days by 2020. The new measurement is expected to greatly open private-sector medical care to veterans in both rural communities and high-traffic urban areas, a goal conservatives have long pushed, especially after a 2015 scandal over hidden waiting lists for care. […]

No, My Study Didn’t Find Medicare for All Would Lower U.S. Health Costs by $2 Trillion

By Charles Blahous

Economics21, June 4, 2019

Last year I published a study with the Mercatus Center projecting that enacting Medicare for All (M4A) would add at least $32.6 trillion to federal budget costs over the first 10 years. After the study was published, some advocates misattributed a finding to it, specifically that M4A would lower national healthcare costs by $2 trillion over that same time period. Multiple fact-checking sites have pointed out that the study contains no such finding, as did a follow-up piece I published with e21 last year. However, because the mistake continues to appear occasionally, this article provides additional detail about how and why it is wrong. […]

Obamacare Rate Hikes Appear Modest for 2020

By Paul Demko

Politico, June 3, 2019

The era of annual eye-popping Obamacare rate hikes appears to be over. Premium increases in the law’s marketplaces are on track to be relatively modest for the second straight year, according to the first batch of 2020 rates proposed by insurers. The rate filings are an early indication that this year’s smaller rate hikes weren’t a fluke. Fewer than a dozen states have so far released initial proposed rate hikes for the enrollment season starting in November. They range from an average increase of 13 percent in Vermont to average reductions of 2.9 percent in Maryland. […]

American Voters Have a Simple Health-Care Message for 2020: Just Fix It!

By Stephanie Armour

The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2019

Americans cited health care as the top issue for the federal government to address, ahead of the economy, immigration, national security and other issues in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey. The financial burden of health care was of particular concern for American families, according to a new Gallup poll released last week, trumping worries linked to wages, college expenses, housing and taxes. As such, health reform presents an opportunity for both major parties heading into the 2020 presidential election. The state of health coverage is the one issue for which a big chunk of the polarized electorate could become amenable to whomever they see as offering the best prospect of a permanent solution, irrespective of political party.