Health Care

WPC's Center for Health Care develops patient-centered solutions to reduce costs and improve the availability and quality of health care for businesses and individuals, providing the only detailed, independent critique of health care issues available in the Northwest.

What's New

Obama's Health Care Plan

February 22, 2010 in Blog

The White House released President Obama's health care plan today, three days ahead of Thursday's televised conference on reform. The provisions of the plan are fundamentally the same as the House and Senate bills:

* Individual mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a tax.

* Employer mandate to provide health insurance for employees or pay a tax.

* Government controlled health insurance exchange.

* Taxpayer subsidies for families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four) to purchase health insurance.

* Delay tax on high priced health insurance plans for five years (at union request).

* The "Nebraska Kickback" for all states - expand indefinitely the federal contribution for Medicaid to 90% for all states.

* Delay tax on insurance companies for four years.

* Delay tax on drug companies for one year.

* Delay tax on medical device manufacturers for three years.

* Three of the eleven pages spent on eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government programs (all of which could be done now).

Unlike the House and Senate bills, though, the President places more federal regulation on insurance company pricing. This would lead to government price control of the insurance industry and would force many companies out of business.  Obviously, as more people are forced out of private insurance, the enrollment in the government plans would skyrocket.

The group Americans for Tax Reform estimates (here) the President's plan would add an addition $629 billion in taxes over the next ten years and would bring the total cost of this proposed health reform to well over $1 trillion.

In short, the President's plan breaks no new ground in the health care debate. It greatly expands the government role in our health care, does nothing to control costs (except for the obligatory rationing that will occur), and further isolates the patient from health care spending and decision making.

Bills to Lift the Ban on Buying Health Insurance in Other States Could Lower Costs for Washington Residents

February 21, 2010 in Publications

HB 3015 (sponsored by Rep. Eileen Cody) and SB 6781 (sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser) were offered with bipartisan support in the 2010 Legislative Session. The bills would establish “an interstate compact for the sale and issue of health benefit plans.” The goals of the proposed legislation are to:

  • Decrease the number of uninsured
  • Provide more affordable options in health insurance
  • Decrease or maintain insurance costs
  • Increase competition among insurance companies

State Abuse of the Medicaid Program

February 2, 2010 in Publications

The Medicaid program to provide health coverage for low-income people began in 1965 with the passage of Title XIX of the Social Security Act.  It has always been an entitlement, with no defined limit on the number of beneficiaries or the cost of the program.  As long as a person meets the legal criteria for participation in the program, that person receives Medicaid benefits, regardless of total cost to taxpayers.

State Abuse of the Medicaid Program

February 2, 2010 in Publications

This paper discusses state-federal Medicaid financing since the 1980s and how state officials have manipulated the federal program to receive extra matching money. Washington state’s proposed provider tax and the proposed “bed tax” on nursing homes are examples of how state officials adopt policies in an effort to leverage more federal funding from the Medicaid program. Since Medicaid is an entitlement with no statutory limit on spending, there is no limit to how much state officials can try to gain from the program.

The impact of national health care reform on Washington State

January 21, 2010 in In the News
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal
Thursday, January 21, 2010

Health Care Bills Will Cost Us

January 19, 2010 in In the News
Wenatchee World
Wenatchee World
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Impact of National Health Care Reform on Washington State

January 1, 2010 in Publications

U.S. House and Senate Democrats have passed two sweeping 2,000 page bills that would fundamentally and dramatically change our health care. There are significant differences between the two bills, but the more moderate Senate bill has the best chance of passing through the conference committee and being signed by the President. Both bills passed on a strict party-line vote, with essentially no support from minority Republicans.

What will this far-reaching legislation mean for Washington state?