Although last week’s bipartisan healthcare reform summit appeared to make little headway in solving the impasse on the issue, it has nevertheless had an impact on the latest affordable health insurance proposal from President Obama.
The Obama administration has offered to add several ideas suggested by Republicans during the summit. These four proposals generally center on cost control, and include:
- Some level of tort reform, through the expansion of pilot programs that seek to overhaul the medical malpractice system. These programs would not involve a jury trial; instead, they would create specialized health courts
- Promoting Health Savings Accounts (HSA plans), which are touted as a way to reduce the unnecessary use of health care
- Launching an investigative program, which would root out waste and fraud by sending private eyes disguised as patients
- Increasing payments to providers who accept Medicaid, because lower reimbursement rates have resulted in many doctors refusing to accept that health insurance
Despite their concern with the budget deficit, some of the aforementioned Republican proposals (such as increasing Medicaid payments and launching the secret patient investigations) would require even more funding. Meanwhile, the heavily criticized Medicare Advantage exception–saving Florida alone from proposed cuts–was dropped.
The question is whether the GOP will budge in their opposition. It doesn’t appear very likely, because much of it is on ideological grounds. Not to mention, most legislators are up for re-election this year. However, the changes will probably anger some Democratic interest groups.