CHIP Provides Template for Solution to Problem of the Uninsured, Op-Ed States
"[M]arket-driven developments" in the health care industry -- such as rising health insurance premiums and shrinking availability of charity care for the uninsured -- "threaten to give a new and terrifying meaning to being without health insurance," Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. With lawmakers in both chambers "incapable of acting on such comparatively minor health care issues" as a Medicare prescription drug benefit and a patients' bill of rights, a "genuine mess is in the making, and no one is doing anything about it," according to Aaron. Continued inaction would be "tragic" and "unnecessary" because, Aaron writes, a "template exists for constructive action that appeals to important principles espoused by both parties" -- the CHIP program. CHIP "uses the conservative principle of permitting states latitude and independence to achieve the liberal goal of extending health insurance coverage," a strategy that could be "extended to health insurance coverage generally." Aaron proposes that the federal government could offer grants to states for "reducing the numbers of uninsured people within their borders" provided that they comply with minimum coverage standards, offer all applicants "reasonable rates" and do not "use the grants as an excuse to curtail Medicaid coverage." Aaron concludes, "Only a plan that appeals to moderates of both political parties stands any chance of ending the political paralysis that currently prevents serious consideration of how to reverse a deadly trend toward denial of financial access to medical care for tens of millions of Americans" (Aaron, Washington Post, 11/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.