Healthcare industry leaders offered differing views on the public option and how it should be structured during a forum hosted by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Mixed views on public option aired at forum
Hospitals have concerns that the House reform bill, the America's Affordable Health Choices Act, “ties the public option to Medicare rates,” said Thomas Priselac, chairman of the American Hospital Association's board of trustees, and president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles.
Versions of the legislation approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Education and Labor Committee would rely on Medicare rates to craft the public plan, whereas the bill approved in Energy and Commerce would create a range of payments—but with Medicare rates as a floor, Priselac said. Since Medicare already pays less than the cost of care, such a proposal “could result in significant losses to hospitals,” he said.
Jacob Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale University, countered that a public option should be able to use modified Medicare rates. Allowing HHS to negotiate rates with providers “is a recipe for paying more, raising the cost of the public plan,” he said. Hacker also panned a not-for-profit co-op approach, claiming there's “very little evidence that this strategy would work. It would simply not offer a competitive alternative” to private insurance, he said.
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