Dupage Policy Journal

Dupage Policy Journal

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ives Rolls Out Workable Reforms to Reduce Healthcare Costs

Politics

By Press release submission | Sep 30, 2019


Issued the following announcement on Sept. 30.

Health care and quality, affordable and portable health insurance is a critical issue to discuss this election cycle - and to act upon in the next Congress, as this Congress is devoting little attention to the matter. This policy area is at the top of Jeanne Ives’ legislative agenda.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the average total cost of employer-provided health coverage grew to over $20,000 for a family plan this year. Employees’ costs rose at an even faster clip—the average annual amount workers paid toward premiums for family plans grew 8%, to $6,015 this year. The average deductible for single coverage, which employees pay out of their pockets before insurance kicks in, went up as well, to $1,655. 

And annual premiums rose 5% to hit $20,576 for an employer-provided family plan in 2019, according to the yearly poll of employers by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. On average, employers bore 71% of that cost, while employees paid the rest. 

The article goes on to cite the situation of Oak Brook-based Elkay Manufacturing Co. With around 1,500 U.S. employees, the cost of their coverage has been going up around 5% to 6% a year. In 2019, the company introduced its first high-deductible plan, and put in place a new $250 penalty for employees who get imaging scans without checking prices through a price-transparency program. 

Like many of his Democrat-socialist colleagues, Representative Sean Casten (IL-6) has advocated moving to a “Medicare For All” style plan that puts control of the health insurance market and the healthcare system under government control. 

Let’s take a look at how the health insurance market and the healthcare system - not to mention those they are supposed to serve - have fared under greater government control: 

  • Premiums doubled in the first four years of Obamacare. From 2013-2017, the average monthly premium for individual insurance was $476 per person per month in the 39 states participating in HealthCare.gov.  But while premiums went up, choices went down.
  • In more than 80 percent of counties across the country, there is only one or two health care plans available on the Obamacare exchange. That means millions of Americans now have far fewer choices when it comes to their doctor and health care network. Less than half of the 24 million people proponents of Obamacare said would sign up have actually done so.
  • Of those who have signed up, more than 86 percent, were put on Medicaid. Which, by the way, doesn’t ensure they now have health care because increasing numbers of doctors and other medical providers are no longer accepting Medicaid.  
  • In the United Kingdom, where they’ve had 70 years to figure out how to run a government-controlled health care system, over 80 percent of doctors say their workplaces are understaffed. The result: 50,000 “non-urgent” surgeries were canceled in 2018 when their system was overwhelmed by flu season.
Given the reality of the situation, Jeanne Ives, Republican Candidate for Congress (IL-6), advocates for workable solutions that will expand private options. 

“Republicans in Congress have not been able to ‘Repeal and Replace’ the ACA. For the foreseeable future, it doesn’t appear that such a policy would pass,” said Ives. “But, there are two issues that I would make paramount in all discussions pertaining to health care reform: 

Coverage for preexisting conditions: Contrary to popular belief, 35 states had High Risk health insurance pools in place long before the ACA (Obamacare) was implemented. These safety nets ensured that those with preexisting conditions would be able to purchase health insurance even if they were denied coverage in the Individual health insurance marketplace. Illinois’ High Risk pool is called I.C.H.I.P. and it is still operational. According to Founder of HealthInsuranceMentors.com, C. Steven Tucker, ‘Most states dissolved their High Risk health insurance pools once the ACA was implemented. Ten additional states had Guarantee Issue individual mandates - again, long before the ACA - that similarly provided for pre-existing conditions. For example, Ohio had an annual open enrollment period during which all Ohio residents could purchase Individual health insurance which guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions. We did not need the ACA to solve that problem. And forty-five states had a risk mitigation system in place that ensured coverage or pre-existing conditions long before Obamacare. And they were serving people better than they are now being served. We should take pre-existing coverage out of the hands of the federal government and return it to the states.’

1332 Waivers: Today, 1332 waivers allow states to recreate their own innovative solutions to ensure coverage for preexisting conditions whilst also significantly lowering premiums. This is a bipartisan solution already being utilized by states like Maine, Alaska, Wyoming and Wisconsin because it works. In fact, Alaska reduced health insurance premiums by 34% whilst also ensuring protections for preexisting conditions by using a 1332 waiver. The results have been so positive that 35 states are now considering legislation to initiate the 1332 waiver application process.” 

Ives continued, “Increased government-control has been disastrous: reduced options, diminished care at crushing cost. But for Sean Casten, the solution is more government - go further down that road to socialized healthcare. By contrast, I want more options for families, not less. I want affordable plans for employers, not options that force them out of business. Let’s give block grant funds to states so they can re-establish high risk pools which reduces premiums for everyone, incentivize HSAs, force price transparency.  

“And that is the choice in this election: do you think more government or more freedom is the best solution to your problems? On the issue of healthcare, the choice is clear.”  

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