When it comes to healthcare reform, health savings accounts (HSAs) are not a silver bullet. But they certainly help where politicians hinder. The trouble is most people don’t yet know what they are. When they learn, we may see an HSA tsunami.
If someone was looking for a solid compromise on healthcare reform, they wouldn’t search in vain. But Democrats are going to have to abandon their Medicaid-for-the-middle-class crusade. Republicans are going to have to abandon tax protection for big business. That’s because critical healthcare reform is going to involve giving the American people exactly what they need: affordability, portability, quality and choice.
If someone was looking for a solid compromise on healthcare reform, they wouldn’t search in vain. But Democrats are going to have to abandon their Medicaid-for-the-middle-class crusade. Republicans are going to have to ditch Norquist-type pledges not to raise taxes. That’s because critical healthcare reform is going to involve giving the American people exactly what they need: affordability, portability, quality and choice.
Ever heard of the butterfly effect? The idea is that small changes in initial conditions can mean larger changes elsewhere in a system. A butterfly's wing beat in Raleigh, through complex cause and effect, can make waves in Austin or Alaska. The same can be said of our health care system — if we can find the wing beat.
Created by the U.S. Congress in 1997 as a supplement to traditional Medicaid (§ XXI of the Social Security Act), SCHIP was initially conceived of as a health insurance program for children in low income families. The program is jointly funded by the federal government and the states. Each state is operationally responsible for the program and may set its own eligibility rules at or above federal minimums. North Carolina created its SCHIP program – NC Health Choice – in 1998 (S.L. 1998-1es).
The Civitas Institute has been involved in conducting surveys in North Carolina for more than two years. Every month the voters are asked to pick the issue or program that needs the most attention from state government. During the past two years lower healthcare costs has always been in the top three and usually the top choice.
A slim-majority of 51 percent of North Carolina voters support the $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that passed Congress and was vetoed by President Bush. The October DecisionMaker Poll conducted by the Civitas Institute indicates, however, that voters do not support the expansion of the program that the legislation established. As approved by Congress, SCHIP would be expanded to cover families of four who earn up to 400 percent over the poverty rate or approximately $82,000 a year. The Civitas study found that 26 percent of North Carolina voters agree with the expansion to include families of four who make between $62,000 and $82,000 a year, while 62 percent oppose the expansion.
I'm not afraid to admit it: I'm middle class. I never knew I needed help paying for my child's health insurance, but apparently I do. Other readers like me may also qualify soon for an expansion of children's Medicaid. Since I may not have to insure my little one, should I get an iPod? A new car? That's right: Congress' expansion of SCHIP means that families at 300 percent of the poverty level could get government-run health care. A family of four in North Carolina making over $60,000 a year would be eligible.
Newsflash: Health insurance is expensive. OK, so that’s not news to anyone. But what may be news to you is why insurance premiums are so high. A common explanation is that health insurance and drug companies are greedy. This narrative is used to justify more intervention in healthcare markets by both state and federal governments. Some familiar voices are even calling for a socialized system like Cuba’s.
The Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) budget was $4.6 billion for FY2008 and $5.1 billion for FY2009. The DHHS budget thus increased by some $400 million over the previous fiscal year Health & Human Services budget of $4.2 billion. The DHHS budget also created 198 new positions. After years of wrangling over who is responsible for paying for state and federal unfunded mandates, the state agreed to take over the county share of Medicaid payments.
This article was originailly published in the Fayetteville Observer, August 2007 We are often treated to editorials about "desperately needed" programs like children’s Medicaid. This year’s state budget expanded the program to 300 percent of poverty via a program called N.C. Kids’ Care. But do working families in North Carolina really need these programs? Contrary [...]
A variety of Medicaid “swap” plans have become major sticking points in this year’s budget negotiations between the North Carolina House and Senate. These plans put real Medicaid reform further into the future and either raise taxes on North Carolina citizens, or set the stage for future tax increases.
Senator Dan Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg) has recently developed a proposal to shift all nonfederal Medicaid costs in North Carolina to the state government. Unfortunately, this plan fails to address the comprehensive reform needed for a Medicaid system that has grown out of control.