Health Agents Fight Single-Payer Storm With Tornado

Just 20% of Colorado voters backed a single-payer measure there in November

NAHU makes the case against government control over health coverage. (Image: NAHU) NAHU makes the case against government control over health coverage. (Image: NAHU)

The National Association of Health Underwriters is hoping a new infographic featuring a cartoon tornado will help it ward off state and federal efforts to set up a government-run, single-payer health care system.

(Related: California Agents Fight Single-Payer Health Bill)

The infographic conveys the group's position that a single-payer health care system would increases taxes, destroy jobs, make patients wait longer for care, lead to rationing of prescription drugs and cut funding for medical research.

NAHU posted the infographic on its social media feeds last week and is asking its agent and broker members to share the infographic with others.

Why Now?

Republicans who want to reduce the role of government in paying for health care are now in control of the White House, the House and the Senate.

Members of the U.S. House recently voted 217-213 to approve a bill that could defund major Affordable Care Act programs.

Members of the Senate are now working on their own proposal for changing the health law and reducing the role of government.

Congress is taking much longer than health insurers had hoped to set the health coverage rules for 2018, and insurers are warning that they are rapidly approaching critical 2018 product and rate filings. Leaders of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a regulator group, warned this week that the insurers that are still willing to participate in the individual major medical market next year may soon have to pull out if they lack the information about subsidies and underwriting rules they need to design coverage.

Some members of Congress are talking about coping with any collapse of the commercial individual major medical market by offering the affected consumers temporary access to government-run health plans.

New York (Photo: Thinkstock)

(Photo: Thinkstock)

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has introduced a bill that would let residents of counties with no individual major medical providers buy coverage from the same health plan that Congress uses. The bill does not yet have a bill number.

State Bills

Democrats might have a hard time getting even temporary government health plan bills through Congress, but they sailed a New York state single-payer health care bill, Assembly Bill 4738, through the New York state Assembly, with an 87-38 vote. The bill is now sitting in the New York state Senate Health Committee. Republicans have control over the state Senate.

Democrats in California have maneuvered a similar single-payer bill there, Senate Bill 562, through the California Senate Health Committee. The California Senate Appropriations Committee is set to hold a hearing on Senate Bill 562 on Monday.

Supporters got a single-payer measure onto the general election ballot in Colorado in November. Although voters their gave a majority of their votes to Hillary Clinton, and they Michael Bennet, a Democratic senator, back to the Senate, they gave just 20% of their votes to the single-payer measure.

Rasmussen Reports L.L.C., a polling organization, reported earlier this month that 44% of voters around the country say they favor the idea of the federal government providing health coverage for everyone.

Definitions

The government is heavily involved in regulating all health care and health coverage providers in the United States.

People who describe themselves as advocates of single-payer health care systems often define the term in different ways. Some favor systems similar to the U.S. Medicare system, in which the government provides basic coverage for all and private insurers offer supplemental benefits.

Other single-payer system advocates believe that the government-run plan should be the sole source of major medical coverage.

The drafters of the single-payer bills in California and New York used the more comprehensive definition of a single-payer health care system. Their bills call for a single-payer system to cover many forms of care typically excluded from major medical coverage today, such as long-term care. The bills would prohibit private insurers from duplicating the benefits offered by a government plan.

One obstacle to getting the single-payer proposals implemented is the projected costs. Supporters of the New York bill say the state would have to raise more than $4,000 in new revenue per person to implement it, and opponents say the state would have to raise more than $11,000 in new revenue per person.

--- Read 4 ACA Change Paths That Just Got More Popular on ThinkAdvisor.

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