No doubt about it: Health care is a vexing political problem. There’s a contradiction at the core of our thinking. We want the best care when we or our loved ones get sick. It’s a moral issue. There should be no limits on treatment. But the resulting uncontrolled health spending harms the country. It undermines other priorities — higher wages (more labor income gets channeled into health-insurance premiums) and competent government (defense and other programs may be underfunded). By and large, Americans ignore the contradiction. Presidents and Congresses have wrestled with it for decades without subduing it. The stakes are huge. Collectively, major federal health programs now constitute the budget’s largest spending item, more than $1 trillion in 2017, or 26 percent of outlays. In 1990, the comparable figures were $137 billion and 11 percent of outlays. Meanwhile, insurance premiums — often paid by employers — have jumped, as have … [Read more...] about There’s a genuine solution to our health-care problem
Health care experts
The Department of Veterans Affairs, facing intense scrutiny amid reports of widespread dysfunction and a push by the Trump administration to outsource more medical care, has tens of thousands of full- and part-time vacancies nationwide, according to data compiled by veterans advocates, lawmakers and federal unions. Most urgently, the agency’s health-care network needs thousands of primary care physicians, mental-health providers, physical therapists, social workers — even janitorial staff, Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), ranking Democrat of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, told The Washington Post in an interview. Of equal concern, he said, VA lacks enough human “It’s crippling our ability to deliver health care to our vets,” Tester said. “ . . . It’s effectively pushing veterans outside the system.” President Trump, and the conservative groups advising him, has seized on the long waits many veterans face at government … [Read more...] about Trump says veterans wait too long for health care. VA’s 33,000 vacancies might have something to do with that.
Escalating premiums and deductibles have driven about 10,000 Mainers over a health care “cliff,” where they can barely afford coverage thanks to a vulnerability in the Affordable Care Act exploited by the actions of the Trump administration. Depending on the plan chosen, premiums have increased by about 70 percent or more since 2014 for people who earn too much to qualify for subsidies for the federal health care program. By contrast, ACA enrollees with subsidies have been mostly shielded from rate increases. The lack of a cap on premium increases, or other cost controls, for ACA enrollees who earn more than 400 percent of the federal poverty limit leaves them unprotected, making the “affordable” part of the program for some impossible.Those cost hikes have accelerated since President Trump took office, and ratepayers are expected to be pummeled with giant rate increases again in 2019. Rates haven’t yet been filed with the Maine Bureau of Insurance, but … [Read more...] about Soaring premiums send thousands in Maine over a health care cliff
Maine Sen. Susan Collins agreed to vote for the president’s tax reform bill in exchange for a promise that the Senate would vote on her bill to stabilize the ACA marketplaces, but now it looks like the bill won’t pass. Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite The Affordable Care Act stabilization measures that Maine Sen. Susan Collins sought in return for her vote to pass the Republican tax reform bill appear to be in danger of collapsing. Democrats and conservative Republicans have failed to reach a consensus on a stabilization bill that Congress would approve. Related Headlines Negotiators agree on spending bill that leaves out ‘dreamers,’ Collins’ health care measureSen. Collins votes to approve Republican tax reform billRyan won’t commit to deal Collins was promised for her vote on tax overhaul Collins and several other moderate Republicans tried to rally support for the bill – which would be attached to must-pass spending legislation … [Read more...] about Health care fixes that secured Sen. Collins’ vote on tax bill are in jeopardy
Health insurance is poised to turn into a major political issue this fall. That's the almost certain result of last week's failure by Congress to attach payments to insurers meant to financially stabilize the health care exchanges to the government spending package signed by Donald Trump last Friday.As a consequence of that failure, the Wall Street Journal reports, "health-insurance premiums are likely to jump right before the November elections."Spoiler alert: this is almost certainly going to cause major problems for the already troubled prospects of Republicans running for Congress.The most recent evidence comes from Gallup, which released a poll Monday showing that 55 percent of Americans worry "a great deal" about "the availability and affordability of healthcare." That group includes slightly more than seven out of ten Democrats, as well a majority of self-described independents. Thirty nine percent of Republicans also agreed with the statement.Making the Gallup finding even more … [Read more...] about Health care will dominate the midterms. That won’t help the GOP.