Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FoxxyCare Would Put More Holes in the Safety Net

Madam Doctor Virginia Foxx is attempting to make a distracting splash in the health-care reform pool today by jumping onto a rival all-Republican bill, the so-called "Improving Health Care for All Americans Act" (H.R. 3218), otherwise known as "Give All the Money to the Insurance Industry Act."

It screams: "Republicans need to look like they're taking the need for health-care reform seriously."

(1) In short, this "plan" does three things: it offers tax credits to those who are not already in some kind of insurance pool to buy insurance (does not offer tax credits to those who get health care through their employers); it allows states to set up high risk pools and minimally funds those pools; and it allows small businesses to pool together to buy insurance, an "Exchange," so to speak.

(2) Pooled exchanges are not allowed to charge varying premiums for their members, but there is no limit on how much they can charge all their members. In other words, when the insurance companies determine that the pool is not making them enough profit, they can simply increase fees on all individuals within the exchange. There is no limit as to how much they can increase their rates, increase co-pays, or increase deductibles.

(3) There is no opportunity to set up not-for-profit exchanges. All exchanges must negotiate with insurance companies.

(4) States can set up a high risk pool or not. They would get minimal start-up costs, so probably most would not. N.C., for example, could get a maximum of $4.6 million per year. A couple of serious illnesses could wipe out this fund overnight.

(5) There is no discussion of how this plan would be funded or how much it
would cost.

(6) There is nothing in the bill that would reduce costs of health care or premiums.

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