Party of “know” to Healthcare Reform

October 26, 2009 by  

It’s gone largely unreported, but states, including Arizona, have been taking the lead on reforming healthcare for years – many in ways that keep patients in control of their healthcare decisions, their dollars and their health. 

States have passed tort reforms, expanded Health Savings and other tax-deferred Medical Accounts that increase use of preventive care and encourage better lifestyle management and enabled risk pools to meet the needs of the uninsurables. 

And despite criticisms, it was Congressional Republicans who proposed serious Medicare & Social Security reforms that would keep the programs financially solvent for the foreseeable future.  Liberal Republicans and Democrats fought Pres. Bush vehemently, though, so the issue was tabled.

Here in Arizona not enough was made of two hard-fought healthcare reforms finally signed into law by Governor Brewer in the 2009 session in Arizona.   Both will lower costs for patients over time.

#1     Tort Reform –  SB 1018 – raising the burden of proof needed in medical malpractice civil actions against emergency health care providers and hospitals.  This will encourage emergency physicians to practice in Arizona by establishing a friendlier business climate, decrease defensive medicine practices and lead to lower malpractice insurance rates.

#2     Mandate Lite.  HB 2324 – a significant insurance reform increasing individuals’ options to purchase  insurance without all of the state mandated coverage benefits.   Small businesses have had this option since 2006 – now individuals have this lower cost option, too.

Plans for 2010.  Next session legislation enabling “defined contribution” policies which will expand employment-based health insurance and make it more affordable for both employers and workers.  And reduce AHCCCS rolls and the number of uninsured families in Arizona, to boot.

Under this option employers will no longer need to manage traditional “one-size-fits-all” group plans for their workers.  Instead:

 – Each worker will be able to pick from a menu of health insurance plans.

 – The plan would be portable allowing employees more job flexibility.

Consumers will be able to easily compare participating plans and their costs and benefits through a web portal, as well.  Stay tuned for details! 

The status quo is not an answer – but neither is another unaccountable, financially unsustainable entitlement program.

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