Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Republicans look to Fair Care Act of 2019 to improve health insurance system

Some in Congress are hoping the Republican sponsored Fair Care Act of 2019 will open the floodgates for Americans to buy health insurance.

Since the Fair Care Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) in February, 10 other bills that deal with health insurance coverage and the reduction of premiums have been introduced,

"The Fair Care Act of 2019 has five sections, including private-sector health insurance reforms to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges, lower health insurance premiums and create an Invisible High-Risk Reinsurance Program (IHRPR)," according to the ABC News website. "States could participate in a national, federally operated pool or receive a block grant to run their own.

“The bill’s Medicare and Medicaid reforms are intended to promote solvency and increase access to quality health insurance. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reforms are meant to promote transparency and competition among drug and device manufacturers to increase consumer access to generic products and decrease costs.’’

Jeremy Barofsky   Brookings

One policy expert thinks the Fair Care Act has potential.

"For example, forcing hospitals in highly concentrated markets to accept Medicare rates from private payers would be beneficial," Jeremy Barofsky, a non-resident Fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told the FDA Reporter. "Whether it would matter depends on how the definition of concentration is written and so whether it would apply in a large enough number of markets to move the needle on prices.

"In general, the main problems in U.S. health care are that prices for care are much too high, access to care is rationed by price, and there is a disconnect between the price paid for care and the benefit those services generate in better health," Barofsky said.

Barofsky said other parts of the bill would be quite dangerous to the health of Americans, especially those with low incomes.

"Turning Medicaid into a block grant caps the total amount available, meaning the program would not expand based on need and some states would reduce coverage," Barofsky said. "Given the clear and growing empirical evidence that Medicaid improves mental health, reduces mortality, and even raises later earnings when children are covered, shrining the program would dereliction of the government's duty to improve the welfare of all Americans."

Barofsky also thinks that it could lower prices for Medicare and Medicaid.

"Easing certificates of need could be effective since increased competition among providers would lead to lower prices, but the biggest value would come instead from reducing prices toward Medicare or even Medicaid rates," Barofsky said.

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FDA Reporter