Friday, September 18, 2009

What to do about health care

The Illinois Policy Institute has a piece pointing out that a provision in the Baucus bill will impose severe hardship on the state.

According to a report from the Federal Funds Information for States, the additional “state share” cost to Illinois for immediately expanding Medicaid to uninsured individuals who earn up to 133 percent of poverty level would cost $1.391 billion (FY 2009 numbers, at regular Medicaid reimbursement rates). It would take Illinois’s Medicaid enrollment from 2.4 million enrollees to 3 million enrollees, a 25 percent increase.
Illinois is already having a hard time paying for its current Medicaid obligations – the state’s significant payment backlog is clear proof of this. An expansion – even one partially or temporarily funded by the federal government – would make the outlook for balancing Illinois’s budget and honoring current commitments much more gloomy than it already is. This doesn’t bode well for taxpayers or current Medicaid recipients and providers.

The solution?

Congress should instead focus on a patient-centered approach to health care reform that empowers the patient and the doctor to make effective and economical health policy choices. Patient-centered reforms include increasing competition among health care insurers by allowing the purchase of health insurance plans across state lines, expanding the adoption of Health Savings Accounts, ending the tax penalization of individually-purchased insurance plans, reducing the number of costly benefit coverage mandates, pursuing tort reform, encouraging medical price transparency, and rethinking licensing laws to encourage greater competition among providers.

Why This Works

Congress should encourage a robust health care market where insurers and providers compete for consumers on the basis of affordability and quality care. Ending regulations that use the tax code to favor employer-provided health insurance and allowing the purchase across state lines will help more families get the coverage they desire. Putting individuals in greater control of their health care dollars through Health Savings Accounts and medical price transparency will help control costs. Empowering individuals and doctors to make the health care decisions that are right for them will provide greater care choices than whatever rationed care the government sees fit to provide.

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