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Ex-CBO chief pushes access via private insurance


By Jennifer Lubell
Posted: May 18, 2009 - 3:00 pm ET
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Bipartisan healthcare reform should focus on expanding access in the private insurance market, according to a new report from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office.

“Increasing coverage does not mean larger government programs. Instead, it should mean better and broader private health insurance for the U.S. population,” according to Forging a New Plan for Health Care: Principles and Priorities for Sustainable Reform. Holtz-Eakin, president of DHE Consulting and the chief economic adviser to Sen. John McCain during his 2008 presidential bid, was commissioned by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research to write the report; the institute is a conservative policy research group.

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There should be more state involvement and less federal intervention, Holtz-Eakin told reporters during a teleconference, adding that each state should have some kind of health insurance agreement that makes certain commitments on coverage goals. Stopping Medicare fraud, which costs up to $60 billion per year, will help finance targeted private insurance coverage expansions, he said.

In addition, the subsidy for private insurance, otherwise known as the employer exclusion, should be revamped, Holtz-Eakin said. This exclusion should be eliminated and replaced with a flat credit of $4,500 for those who have private health insurance—regardless of its source, according to the report.

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