Washington Times Examines Health Savings Accounts in Medicare Plans
The Washington Times today examines the debate over a provision in the House Medicare reform bill (HR 1) that would create health savings accounts (Fagan, Washington Times, 8/8). The House bill would allow the creation of two types of savings accounts that people enrolled in private health plans could use to accrue money tax-free to pay for some medical expenses, including medical treatment, medications and long-term care services or coverage. Individuals with deductibles of at least $1,000 and families with deductibles of at least $2,000 could use Health Savings Accounts, and individuals with $500 deductibles and families with $1,000 deductibles could use Health Savings Security Accounts (California Healthline, 7/31). The proposal would cost an estimated $174 billion, the Washington Times reports (Washington Times, 8/8). In a letter last month to Medicare conference committee members, 26 House Republicans urged negotiators to support the health savings account provision. The letter, whose creation was led by Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), says that the health savings account provision would not directly affect Medicare beneficiaries but is "critical" to Medicare reform. According to the letter, such a provision would "give Americans under age 65 greater control over their medical coverage and care than most Americans have ever known" and would "create an enormous constituency for future Medicare reforms based on patient choice and competition, rather than rationing and controls" (American Health Line, 7/31). Many Senate Democrats "strongly oppose" the provision because they say its $174 billion cost could be used instead to make a Medicare drug benefit more comprehensive. The conference committee charged with reconciling the House and Senate (S 1) Medicare reform bills is not expected to take up the issue until the fall, the Times reports (Washington Times, 8/8).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.