U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) had a piece published at The Politico yesterday putting forth 10 incremental tweaks to the health-care system which he says would likely pass with ease in both houses of Congress and would help to drive down costs.
Cassidy says that the Obama administration has wasted a year with “statist” health policies rejected by the American people, but that if it will move to the center and embrace more reasonable policies it will find votes both in Congress and in this fall’s mid-term elections.
The 10 proposals are as follows:
1. End Rescission. Under current law insurers can drop a patient undergoing breast cancer treatment in her forties if she failed to report on her insurance application a bout of acne from her twenties. This dishonest trick to save money should not be allowed.
2. Extend dependent coverage. For generation Y, 25 is the new 18. Insurance policies should account for evolving demographic trends and allow parents to maintain coverage for their children into their twenties. This would provide coverage to many currently uninsured.
3. Interstate competition. If we can buy car insurance across state lines, why not health insurance? This would give patients more choice and lower costs by spurring competition between insurers.
4. Transparency in pricing. Plain and simple, patients should be able to know the cost of medical services before they get the bill.
5. State information portals. To make the insurance market more transparent, Congress could provide seed money to states for health information portals, where patients could access easily understandable information about what an insurance plan covers and at what cost.
6. Tort reform. Democrats must decide which is more important: the millions of dollars tort lawyers give to their campaigns or the $54 billion the Congressional Budget Office estimates will be saved through meaningful tort reform.
7. Confront obesity. Obesity is a leading driver of health care inflation. A combination of grants to states for anti-obesity programs and incentives for patients to lead healthier lives will help bend the cost curve down.
8. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).Since their inception in 2004, HSAs have demonstrated a remarkable ability to lower costs. Congress should change the tax code to encourage their use, eliminate minimum deductible requirements, and allow patients to use HSA funds to pay insurance premiums.
9. Direct primary care. Pioneered by Seattle-based Qliance, the direct primary care model gives patients access to comprehensive primary care for a monthly payment of $39 – $79. Physicians are rewarded for quality, not quantity, and patients are firmly in control.
10. State-based high-risk pools. To mitigate discrimination against those with preexisting conditions, Congress can help states strengthen insurance pools for patients whose health status otherwise blocks access to coverage.
How many of these have a chance? At this point, probably not many. Certainly tort reform is off the table; the Democrat Party is completely in thrall to trial attorneys (97 percent of all political donations from members of the American Trial Lawyers Association in the last cycle went to Democrats), and they will not give an inch on anything which will threaten that financial spigot. But with the grand big-government plans laid out by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on Obama’s behalf last year lying in ashes and the American people hopping mad about their plans to effect a federal seizure of the medical sector, perhaps some reasonable package of reforms as laid out by Cassidy could be crafted.
If not, the Democrat majorities in both Houses will likely be as dead as Obamacare by mid-November.