Health Policy Updates: May 6 2017

In an interview with CBS, Donald Trump was noted to tell several blatant lies about the contents of the current version of the AHCA:

  1. Pre-existing conditions will continue to be required to be accepted for insurance.
  2. Premiums will be lowered by the law.
  3. That the bill includes the popular conservative idea to allow interstate insurance markets.

This article, with excerpts from interview the interview, is quite revealing. It’s almost as if the president doesn’t know anything about health care, or is very comfortable lying about it. Or, both.

“This part of the interview is a bit bizarre…Now Trump appears to be saying that he’s ready to reverse course, that this part of the Republican bill is currently “changing.” So either Trump is announcing a big policy shift that would likely lead to Freedom Caucus opposing the bill — or he’s misunderstanding what is actually in the bill. From the interview, its hard to know.”

Continue reading Health Policy Updates: May 6 2017

Health Policy Updates: April 29 2017

The GOP has finalized a new version of the AHCA, with the goal of getting enough votes from the party membership to ensure passage. The broad structure of the bill appears to remain largely unchanged.

“The GOP’s new proposal would allow states to opt out of many of Obamacare’s requirements, allowing health plans to charge people more based on their age and health status. States could also opt out of enforcing a 30 percent surcharge imposed on people who don’t maintain insurance coverage, which was part of the original GOP proposal, according to a brief update sent to Energy and Commerce members. That’s the policy that the Republicans would use to replace the Obamacare individual mandate…In exchange, states would have to set up a high-risk pool where older, sicker people could buy coverage, likely at much higher prices.”

Apparently, the most-conservative Freedom Caucus members are now starting to support the bill. However, the delay of the proposed House vote yesterday likely means that sufficient GOP support still isn’t there.
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: April 29 2017

Health Policy Updates: April 22 2017

Like a phoenix rising from its own ashes, Republican health care reform is alive again.’s Sarah Kliff runs through some of the features of the new version of their bill:

“What we do know is that this latest proposal doesn’t do much at all to assuage concerns about the older proposals. While it meets many of the demands of the party’s far-right wing — namely, the deregulation of the individual insurance market — it does nothing to address concerns about massive coverage loss. Instead, it likely makes those problems worse…

…This GOP amendment to let states waive community rating would once again allow insurers to charge people based on their expected health care costs. Insurers would not be able to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions, but they would have free rein to charge them especially high premiums.”

President Trump demonstrated his expertise in the complex details of health policy, with his analysis of the changes to this new version of the health care reform bill:

“‘The plan gets better and better and better, and it’s gotten really, really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot,’ Mr. Trump said.”

Continue reading Health Policy Updates: April 22 2017

Health Policy Updates: April 15 2017

I am giving my highest recommendation to Elizabeth Rosenthal’s new book on health care costs, An American Sickness. It was her reporting at the NYTimes several years ago that first got me interested in understanding (and controlling) the high costs of medical care that we have in this country.

Equally highly recommended is her interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.

“What you see often now is when generic drugs come out … the price doesn’t go down to 20 percent of the branded price, it maybe goes down to 90 percent of the branded price. So we’re not getting what we should get from a really competitive market where we, the consumers, are making those choices.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: April 15 2017

Health Policy Updates: April 8 2017

ACA/Obamacare repeal, which suffered a huge blow last week with the failure of the AHCA, has already been rebooted. The AHCA faced opposition from both moderate Republicans worried about coverage losses to their constituents, and also from the most-conservative Freedom Caucus members who felt that it still provided for an unacceptably large role of government in health care. These Freedom Caucus members are now working on a new bill that would be more palatable to their wing of the GOP:

“Getting rid of essential health benefits and community rating would almost certainly create a bill that is less popular and covers fewer people than the Republicans’ first proposal, which would have caused 24 million people to lose coverage. The change would allow insurers to once again charge sick people higher premiums than the healthy — meaning premiums would often be too expensive for low-income Americans with preexisting conditions to afford…This would also mean that insurers could stop covering services that tend to attract patients who use more medical care, like maternity coverage and mental health services.”

Continue reading Health Policy Updates: April 8 2017