Jeanne Shaheen

ACA 1.5

Welp. Back in March, I wrote a 3-part series about what types of healthcare policy improvements/upgrades might be in the offering now that Democrats have taken control of the White House, (just barely) retained control of the House of Representatives and (just barely) taken control of the Senate (mostly).

Given the razor-thin margins in both the House and especially the Senate, I was already cautioning people to pare back expectations for the 117th Congressional Session. No, Medicare for All wasn't gonna happen. No, Medicare for America wasn't gonna happen. I already knew that even President Biden's own less-dramatic federal Public Option was unlikely to happen.

At the time, however, it did seem like at least a few Big Ticket items might make the cut, hopefully including:

UPDATE 4/13/21: An earlier version of this post had misinterpreted Linda Blumberg's estimate how much S.499 would cost--I thought that the $350 billion estimate was the gross projected 10-year cost without taking into account the impact of eliminating Silver Loading, but it turns out that it's the net cost after taking that into account as well. My apologies for such a bone-headed error.

Having said that, there's still the possibility of up to $196 billion in additional savings elsewhere, so it's still worth discussing the relative costs of both proposals and seeing whether both, or at least parts of both, could still be worked into the American Families Plan. I've significantly reworked the the wording of the post accordingly.

Back in late January, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia announced the introduction of a new-ish bill called the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021. Tell me if any of the major provisions look familiar:

  • Capping health care costs on the ACA exchanges
  • Establishing a low-cost public health care option
  • Authorizing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices
  • Allowing insurers to offer health care coverage across state boundaries
  • Supporting state-run reinsurance programs
  • Incentivizing states to expand Medicaid
  • Expanding Medicaid eligibility for new moms
  • Simplifying enrollment
  • Increasing Medicaid funding for states with high levels of unemployment
  • Reducing burdens on small businesses