When will we see a Medicare replacement?
- by admin
Health insurance has long been a hot-button issue for politicians and voters, but this is one of the first times they’re using it to sell a policy that might save Medicare.
Health insurance is one key element of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to about 12 million people who qualify for Medicaid and other federal assistance.
The ACA’s expansion also expanded Medicare to include more people who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
Health insurers have been selling plans that would provide coverage for that level of income for years, and it was one of those topics that led to a recent Senate debate about whether to replace the law’s Medicare payments to insurers.
“We’re seeing a lot of folks who were looking at Medicare and the ACA, and they are now thinking, I can’t afford the coverage,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told reporters in July.
Insurers have long argued that they can afford coverage that is lower than what they paid for coverage under Medicare, and the government pays the difference.
In some cases, they have been able to pay higher prices for coverage than they did before, and insurers have said that they want to continue that.
But the Affordable Care Act is a law, not a law of nature, and some insurers are worried that the new Medicare system won’t provide enough coverage to offset the higher costs of their plans.
This is the first time we’re seeing an insurance company arguing that Medicare should not be replaced, said Michael McAndrews, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for president, has repeatedly raised concerns about the costs of Medicare, saying the program’s expansion is too generous.
Republicans have argued that the ACA is not going to cost the government anything, because it is not an entitlement program, which means it can’t be reduced.
And in some states, including some that have expanded Medicaid under the ACA and some that haven’t, there is no evidence that the costs will be reduced, McAndrewers said.
Democrats have pushed back against those arguments, arguing that Medicaid is a separate program and should be left alone.
While some insurers have raised concerns that some of their customers might not be able to afford the cost of coverage under the Medicare program, others argue that the government should pay the difference, and that it is justifiable to expect those consumers to pay more out of pocket than under Medicare.
On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that there will be more than 12 million Medicare enrollees under the program by 2021, up from about 7 million in 2021.
A number of health insurance companies, including Humana and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California, have already taken steps to raise premiums in states that have been expanding Medicaid, saying they want Medicare coverage to be the same as what they were before the ACA.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Board released a report in September that projected that by 2021 the number of Medicare beneficiaries would be roughly the same size as it was before the law took effect, and about half of them would be older than 65.
At the same time, the CBO found that the cost to the federal government of paying Medicare premiums would be about $1.8 trillion a year by 2021.
Health insurance has long been a hot-button issue for politicians and voters, but this is one of the first times…
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