A broad group of Tennessee healthcare executives have announced a proposal that would make their state one of the key laboratories for healthcare reforms that could then be extended across the country over the next 10 years. The national proposal from the Rolling Hills Group attempts to build on the current mix of private and public funding. It calls for an individual mandate for health insurance, with subsidies for low-income adults and a tax deduction for personal premiums. Tax deductions on premiums for both individuals and employers would be limited to the actuarial value of a high-deductible policy based on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. A Federal Health Reserve Board would oversee the system.
The group includes executives with backgrounds in investor-owned, tax-exempt, academic and public hospitals, as well as a former head of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee. The groups chairman is Clayton McWhorter, who worked at both HCA and spinoff HealthTrust and was chairman of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. after Columbia/HCA reacquired HealthTrust. In an interview, McWhorter said the group attempted to come up with a middle-of-the-road proposal that could garner support across the political spectrum. McWhorter cautioned Congress not to move too quickly. This so-called system that we have cannot, in my opinion, be changed on a dime, he said.