November 16, 2006


Caption: This guy needs health care--quick!

It looks like the health care debate is heating up again. And enough people are feeling the heat that some unlikely allies are moving the debate.

This week, America's Health Insurance Plans, a health industry lobby group, put forth its proposals for an expansion of insurance coverage, some of which are pretty decent:

The health insurance industry proposed an expansion of Medicaid and new tax breaks on Monday with the goal of guaranteeing coverage for all children in three years and for virtually all adults within 10 years.

The plan calls for expanding Medicaid coverage to all adults living under the federal poverty level; expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program coverage to at least $200% of poverty; and various tax incentives and deductions.

The most welcome parts are the expansion of public programs, particularly Medicaid to uninsured adults, although actually doing this will require different spending priorities than giving tax breaks to millionaires and preparing to fight the Soviet army.

The sudden solicitude of the industry for expanding public program may not be entirely altruistic: the cost of uncompensated care drives up costs for providers, insurers, and everyone else.

Families USA estimated in 2005 that premiums for employer-provided family coverage would increase by an average of $922 per year due to the unpaid health expenses of the uninsured.

Expanding Medicaid to 100% of FPL, by the way, is one of the platforms of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care in El Cabrero's beloved home state.

In the short term, we'll be doing good here to keep Medicaid services from being cut, but it's good that public discussion is starting to move in the other direction.


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