A worthwhile proposal from the Problem Solvers Caucus? | New NY 23rd

The Problem Solvers Caucus claims:

(First) Our plan would stabilize markets by making the cost-sharing payments mandatory and thereby prevent rates from rising sharply.

Second, we provide a relief valve to help states deal with the high cost of pre-existing and chronic conditions. The costliest 5 percent of patients account for nearly half of all health care spending in the country. We propose a dedicated stability fund — essentially a form of reinsurance — that states could use to reduce premiums and limit losses for providing coverage for these high-cost patients.

Third, our proposal provides relief to certain businesses from the mandate that they provide insurance to full-time employees. It also defines “full time” as a 40-hour workweek to discourage businesses from manipulating employees’ weekly hours to skirt the mandate. More than 90 percent of large businesses offered health care before the Affordable Care Act, and studies show that they would continue to do so under this change; others would move to find employee coverage in the individual marketplace.

Fourth, our plan eliminates the Medical Device Tax, an excise charge of 2.3 percent that is often passed onto consumers and reduces funds for research and development.

And finally, we provide states with additional flexibility to enter into agreements — such as enabling the sale of insurance across state lines — that would provide more choice and lower costs.

This isn’t an attractive compromise–it proposes relief from President Trump’s threat to withhold payments at the expense of business tax cuts, and reduction in employer responsibility for employee insurance. Two proposals, points 2 and 5, are difficult to evaluate–point 2 assumes that pre-existing conditions would no longer be covered unless the States assume responsibility, point 5, representing Republican dogma, is of uncertain value.

Additionally, the Problem Solvers caucus claims:

This proposal would not increase the federal deficit, offering several options to offset the new spending.

How can this be true? The proposed dedicated stability fund represents new spending, the medical device tax repeal reduces revenue. What options might offset loss of revenue and new spending is unclear–this article doesn’t say.

We can take this proposal seriously if and when it is assigned a bill number and scheduled for debate and a vote in the House. Till then, it is just talk.

Tom Reed claims that those who are all talk and no action have been excluded from the Problem Solvers Caucus. He should have excluded himself.


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