Monday, February 15, 2010

GOP patchwork health care reform fixes probably would fall short of the mark: start with pre-existing conditions

On Sunday Feb. 14 I found a curious counterpoint on health care reform.

In The Washington Post, on p. A23, Republican governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota (as if that were an oxymoron, but it isn’t) ran an op-ed “Five steps to health reform”. They sound straightforward enough (1) smart consumer incentives (2) pay providers for performance (3) tort and malpractice reform (4) allow interstate purchase of health insurance (that’s common sense, it seems) and (5) modernize health insurance and medical record keeping (would employ a lot of old mainframe computer programmers like me again, particularly in the Twin Cities). The link for the article is here.

But the New York Times came back with an editorial on Opinion p 7 (Feb 14), “Small Ideas Won’t Fix It”. The NYT argues that interstate purchase provisions could lead insurers to relocate to states with few requirements (the way credit card companies went to Deleware), with healthy people living in low premium states and sicker people living in states guaranteeing health care.

On Health Savings Accounts (usually a GOP suggestion), the NYT writes “the proposal would be of little use to people who couldn’t afford to set money aside for future health care bills.”

But the most important point in the NYT piece is about “high risk pools”. The NYT writes “Republicans reject the Democrats’ proposal to require insurers to accept all applicants, regardless of pre-existing conditions.” The link for the editorial is here.

This weekend, California Anthem BCBS gained notoriety with a huge (up to 39%) increase in premiums on individual policies, which it “graciously” put off for sixty days after public protest.

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