Keep private insurers in overhauled health care system, CBO suggests — MedCity morning read, May 29, 2009

7:38 am by | 2 Comments

Douglas Elmendorf

Douglas Elmendorf

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration could dodge a bullet that felled the Clinton administration’s attempt at health care reform by keeping an active and independent role for private insurers in the overhauled system, according to the Washington Post.

In a recent report (pdf), the Congressional Budget Office said if the government requires all Americans to buy health insurance — a mandate being considered to help reform the system — it runs the risk of having to run the health care insurance system through the federal budget.

However, if the government keeps private insurers actively involved in the reformed system — even if it requires people to buy minimal insurance — it could avoid putting health insurance into the federal budget because it would be a “largely private-sector system,” wrote Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, in his blog.

The CBO took a different view of the Clinton-era health care reform, the Post said. Then, the office concluded a mandate requiring employers and employees to pay into a national health insurance system would constitute a form of taxation — and that would massively expand the federal government, according to the Post.

Meanwhile, a report by policy wonk journal Health Affairs said that cutting the cost of health care is the next step in the Massachusetts reform effort, begun in 2006, that has succeeded in covering most of the state’s residents in the closest thing to universal coverage in the nation.

The report shows that while expanding insurance coverage is one way to improve patients’ access to health care, cutting costs has to be part of the formula, too, according to the Wall Street Journal Health blog.

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Mary Vanac

By Mary Vanac

Mary Vanac is a co-founder of MedCity News.
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There is only one solution to this problem. Single Payer- HR 676. Publicly Funded, privately delivered healthcare is the only way to recover the 30% of healthcare dollars that are used for insurance company profits. In return for providing the industry with wealth the American people who have insurance get denied access to care just when they need it most and 47 million others have no access at all. 60% of Americans support this system and yet it is not being considered because industry money donated to politicians has corrupted their representation of their constituents. Single payer healthcare must be considered in the healthcare reform debate.