The most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are the most expensive. Universal coverage is a top priority not only for Democrats but also for President Trump. Both Republicans and Democrats want to preserve many costly coverage features of the ACA, including those that prevent insurers from precluding people with preexisting conditions and those that eliminate lifetime or annual coverage limits. The challenge is how to preserve these features and make insurance affordable.
By ending federal matching funds and shifting managerial responsibility to the states, Republicans propose to modernize Medicaid’s funding and give local authorities greater flexibility to design program innovations that are more specific to each state’s needs. The reason Medicaid costs less than private insurance is because it provides less. Medicaid provides “comprehensive coverage,” but coverage isn’t care. It is easy to write down a long list of services that are covered. Think of it as having a coupon for free health care—a coupon that is difficult, sometimes impossible, to redeem. Per capita allotments or block grants may result in reduced federal spending, but their primary purpose is to bring about reform of Medicaid.
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One of the more interesting television commercials I see is an ad sponsored by Cancer Treatment Centers of America. The message: if you have cancer, we want you.
Welcome to a small glimpse of how the market for health care might be different.
If we had a genuinely free market for health care, ads like this would not be rare and unusual. There would be centers of excellence for heart disease and diabetes and dozens of other afflictions. Through television, radio, the Internet and other means, these centers would be seeking out people with problems and offering to solve them – just like in other markets.
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In an interview aired Wednesday, President Trump said that his overriding legislative priority is to pass health care reform, but he won’t wait indefinitely to turn his attention to overhauling the nation’s tax code. Trump told the Fox Business Network, “We’re going to have a phenomenal tax reform, but I have to do health care first. . . . I don’t want to put deadlines. Health care is going to happen at some point. Now, if it doesn’t happen fast enough, I’ll start the taxes.” The White House had hoped to pass a tax bill before the congressional recess in August, though officials have conceded the deadline is slipping. Trump suggested that it is important to pass the health care bill first, because it would provide “hundreds of millions of dollars” in savings that could be used to offset a net tax cut.
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Rep. Mark Meadows intends to deliver an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday that would leave in place the existing law’s mandates for insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
“What I’m getting to him is based on conversations that I’ve had with (Tuesday Group co-chairman) Tom MacArthur and leadership, but I wouldn’t say that it’s approved at this point,” Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told USA TODAY. “What we’re trying to do is work through issues that are important to all of us but make sure that pre-existing conditions are taken care of.”
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