Today, America's Health Insurance Plans, the health insurance industry front group, released their proposal for health care reform. Here are the main policy points:
- Controlling costs: Health plans are urging Congress to set a bold target of reducing the future growth in health care costs by 30 percent over the next five years. Based on the current projected growth rate of 6.6 percent, this could produce a cumulative savings of more than $500 billion over five years.
- Helping consumers and purchasers: Health plans propose that a new portable health plan be available to individuals and small businesses in all states. This affordable "essential benefits plan" would provide coverage for prevention and wellness as well as acute and chronic care. To maintain affordability, the essential benefits plan would not be subject to varying and conflicting state benefit mandates.
- Achieving universal coverage: Health plans propose guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions in conjunction with an enforceable individual coverage mandate. To help working families afford coverage, advanceable and refundable tax credits should be available, phasing out as income approaches 400 percent of the federal poverty line.
- Adding value: Health plans commit to streamlining administrative processes and propose making targeted investments in our public health infrastructure. The plan also calls for refocusing our health care system on keeping people healthy, intervening early, and providing coordinated care for chronic conditions; adopting uniform standards for quality, reporting, and information technology; and investing more in research to better understand which treatments and therapies work best – for the nation as a whole and for specific patients.
Tax credits? Insurance across state lines? More pledges that the industry can self-regulate? A lot of this seems really familiar. A lot of this was part of John McCain's health care plan.
Doesn't the insurance industry realize John McCain was crushed in a large part due to the money Obama spent promoting his health care plan and demonizing McCain's? The fact that one month after a landslide election the insurance industry would come out with a proposal containing large parts of a roundly defeated health care plan show that they are hopelessly out of touch.
I thought this argument was over. I thought America rejected McCain-style health care. But I guess we have to go over it one more time.
First, tax credits don't work.
Second, while we at Health Care for America Now are for a standard benefits package, the question is who gets to decide those benfits. And that brings us to the next point.
Third, the insurance industry can't self-regulate. Insurance costs are skyrocketing. The ranks of the uninsured are growing. The industry keeps making more and more money. They never have and never will look out for the public's best interest. In fact, this proposal is simply a way of making more money. As Igor Volsky at Think Progress points out:
AHIP is all for “affordable” coverage on the government’s dime. That is, rather than agreeing to end premium discrimination based on age or sex, it wants the government to issue tax credits and cap total health expenditures for lower-income individuals to protect Americans from bankruptcy. The plan calls on the government to ensure affordability, while protecting industry profits.
And that's the truth, right there.