Surprisingly Good Policy on Health-Care Reform

My first instinct was to judge the final deal that secured Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb) support to be the kind of bad policy lamentably required to get anything done in a system where a resident of an empty, square-shaped state gets proportionally 50 times the representation of every Californian. Democratic leader Harry Reid had to literally buy off Nelson, whose stick-up artistry is, if not admirable, certainly impressive, with a provision that Nebraska—and only Nebraska—will be exempted from having to kick in to help expand Medicaid coverage. It's pretty hard to defend that on any rational policy grounds. That does not mean it is indefensible. Democrats want to cover the uninsured and that was a comparably small price to pay for doing so.

But it also turns out that there are some objectively smarter policy tweaks in the current version of the Senate bill. As Jonathan Cohn notes, one of the insurance industry's more pernicious practices—instituting annual and lifetime caps on coverage—is being eliminated. Karen Tumulty explains, via Congressional Budget Office Director Steve Elmendorf, that a board will recommend ways of bringing down Medicare's costs, and thiswill be more likely to take effect under the new language governing its trigger. Economists, according to Tumulty, consider this a crucial tool in holding down long-term Medicare costs. Über-wonk Ezra Klein picks out the important fact that this bill will require exchange-certified insurance plans to make public information about how many claims are rejected. Certainly that's the kind of information consumers should have.

Surprisingly Good Policy on Health-Care Reform | News