A New Plan to Expand Health Care Coverage — and Contain Costs

A New Plan to Expand Health Care Coverage — and Contain Costs

medical stethoscope
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By Yuval Rosenberg

Economists at the Urban Institute this week released a new health-care policy proposal. The plan would leave Medicare and employer-based health care coverage in place but add a new, Medicare-style “Healthy America” marketplace with public and private insurer options for everyone else. The Urban economists say their plan “is less ambitious than a single-payer system (i.e., Medicare for All), but it would get close to universal coverage with much lower increases in federal spending and less disruption for people currently enrolled in employer coverage or Medicare.”

As for the costs, the authors estimate it would be about $98 billion in the first year.

The Washington Post Editorial Board says the proposal serves as a reminder that “there are options that are neither as cruel as the GOP’s miserly repeal-and-replace nor as disruptive as the more sweeping left-wing proposals” for single-payer plans. “In other words, they are compassionate and realistic.” Read the Urban Institute’s plan here.

Where’s the Obamacare Navigator Funding for 2019, PA Insurance Commissioner Asks

By The Fiscal Times Staff

Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner sent a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma requesting that they “immediately release the funding details for the Navigator program for the upcoming open enrollment period for 2019.” Navigators are the state and local groups that help people sign up for Affordable Care Act plans.

“In years past, grant applications and new funding opportunities were released by CMS in April, CMS required Navigator organizations to apply by June and approved applications and new funding by late August,” Pennsylvania’s Jessica Altman wrote. “The current lack of guidance has put Navigator organizations – and states - far behind in their planning and creates an inability for the Navigator organizations to design a successful plan for helping people enroll during the 2019 open enrollment period.”

Chart of the Day: Why US Fertility Rates Are Falling

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By The Fiscal Times Staff

U.S. fertility rates have fallen to record lows for two straight years. “Because the fertility rate subtly shapes many major issues of the day — including immigration, education, housing, the labor supply, the social safety net and support for working families — there’s a lot of concern about why today’s young adults aren’t having as many children,” Claire Cain Miller explains at The New York Times’ Upshot. “So we asked them.”

Here are some results of the Times’ survey, conducted with Morning Consult. Read the full Times story for more details.

A Record Low 47% of US Adults Say They're 'Extremely Proud' to Be American

By The Fiscal Times Staff

Gallup says that, for the first time in the 18 years it’s been asking U.S. adults how proud they are to be Americans, fewer than half say they are "extremely proud." Just 47 percent now say they’re extremely proud, down from 70 percent in 2003.

Another 25 percent say they’re “very proud” — but the combined 72 percent who say they’re extremely or very proud is also the lowest Gallup has recorded. Pride levels among liberals and Democrats have plunged since 2017. Overall, 74 percent of Republicans and just 32 percent of Democrats call themselves “extremely proud” to be American.

Pfizer Has Raised Prices on 100 of Its Products

FILE PHOTO: The Pfizer logo is seen at their world headquarters in New York, U.S. April 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
Andrew Kelly
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Weeks after President Trump said that drugmakers were about to implement “voluntary massive drops in prices” — reductions that have yet to materialize — Pfizer has raised prices on 100 of its products, The Financial Times’s David Crow reports:

“The increases were effective as of July 1 and in most cases were more than 9 per cent — well above the rate of inflation in the US, which is running at about 2 per cent. … Pfizer, the largest standalone drugmaker in the US, did decrease the prices of five products by between 16 per cent and 44 per cent, according to the figures.”

Crow notes that Pfizer also raised prices on many of its medicines in January, meaning that some prices have been hiked by nearly 20 percent this year. The drugmaker said that it was only changing prices on 10 percent of its medicines and that list prices did not reflect what most patients or insurers actually paid. The net price increase after rebates and discounts was expected to be in the “low single digits,” the company told the FT.

Chart of the Day: Pass-Through Tax Deductions Made Easy

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By Michael Rainey

The Republican tax overhaul was supposed to simplify the tax code, but most experts say it fell well short of the goal. Martin Sullivan, chief economist at Tax Analysts, tweeted out a chart of the analysis required to determine whether income qualifies for the passthrough tax deduction of 20 percent, and as you’ll see, it’s anything but simple.