Boots on the Ground and a Voice at the Table
By Susan Rider, Benefits & Human Capital Consultant
Flying home from the NAHU Capitol Conference, I couldn’t help but have a real sense of encouragement, glad to be playing a role in our agency’s “boots on the ground” approach to impending healthcare reform. As a representative of G&A, I reflected on the flight back to Indy, I felt I had been really there, helping to ensure our clients have a voice at the table as The Process continues. Process, in fact, appears to be the modus operandi as healthcare reform begins taking shape. We anticipate a phased-in approach rather than any wielding of sledgehammers, with bipartisan support needed each step of the way and a victory for all consumers being the ultimate result.
I was happy to learn that the Patient Freedom Act, first of three bills on the discussion docket, has already gained bipartisan support. There are a number of pieces to this consumer protection bill; key provisions will allow consumers of any age group or income status to purchase catastrophic coverage and will prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions. Important repeals in the Freedom Act include both the individual and employer federal mandates.
In addition to the Patient Freedom Act, the other two bills on the table are the Hatch-Paulsen “Gold Standard” (generally expands access to on-site clinics, expands the list qualified expenses and tax free expenses and items) and The “Better Way” (preserves guaranteed renewability and preserves coverage for mental health and substance use disorders).
At these latest D.C. trips, I sensed a different vibe. People are trying to work together to look at ways to enhance the healthcare landscape, and it was good having the opportunity to connect and provide input with members of congress from all sides of the “aisle” – Dems, Reps, and Independents. There seems to be general agreement about stabilizing the individual market and the need to adjust the rating “age bands”. Under the current ACA arrangement, from the youngest insured through those age 64, there are only three premium “bands”. That might now be changed to five bands which would make premiums a lot more realistic and fair.
I’m pleased to see synergy among the Executive Branch, Congress, and professional associations, as we are evaluating new ideas such as the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0). HIP 2.0 is an alternative way to engage consumers in making smart choices and rewarding them through a power account to help offset their out of pocket expenses.
It seems as if the healthcare industry will undergo changes over the next few years. As I watch that Process get into gear, I’m feeling pretty encouraged and wanted to pass that feeling along.