Health Policy Experts Promote Proposal To Allow States To Test Strategies To Address Issue of Uninsured
Health policy experts at a conference in New Jersey on Thursday proposed that the federal government provide states with a "policy toolbox" to allow them to experiment with methods for reducing the number of uninsured residents in their states, CongressDaily reports. The idea was proposed by Stuart Butler, vice president of the Heritage Foundation, and Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, at the 12th annual Princeton Conference, a meeting of academics, congressional staff, government officials and representatives from providers and health insurers.
Under the proposal, states would be allowed to test methods for improving health care coverage, such as creating as single-payer health system or providing tax credits for health coverage. States that show improved health coverage would be rewarded. The health care proposals would be approved by a federal commission, and Congress would vote on a slate of plans. Neither Congress nor the administration would have the final vote over which method is used in each state.
According to Butler, the proposal would simultaneously "enable members of Congress to accept approaches they would never allow in their own states" and provide the ability to experiment with different approaches over a five-year period.
However, Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, said, "Placing our hopes on the states is not sound public health policy." He added that increasing health insurance coverage mostly involves redistribution of income "and this is a job for the national government."
Stan Dorn, senior policy analyst at the Economic and Social Research Institute, said, "Sometimes something is better than nothing," noting that Washington state has developed a plan that offers fewer benefits than Medicaid, but it has "made a huge difference" in the lives of the uninsured (Rovner, CongressDaily, 5/20).