Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and deficit and instead stressing a promise to “improve it.”
The messaging shift was circulated this afternoon on a conference call andPowerPoint presentation organized by Families USA — one of the central groups in the push for the initial legislation. The call was led by a staffer for the Herndon Alliance, which includes leading labor groups and other health care allies. It was based on polling from three top Democratic pollsters: John Anzalone, Celinda Lake and Stan Greenberg.
The confidential presentation, available in full here and provided to POLITICO by a source on the call, suggests that Democrats are acknowledging the failure of their predictions that the health care legislation would grow more popular after its passage, as its benefits became clear and rhetoric cooled. Instead, the presentation is designed to win over a skeptical public, and to defend the legislation — and in particular the individual mandate — from a push for repeal.
Good. Maybe if we scrap this ridiculous point of faith that a sprawling, expensive, bureaucratic monstrosity will magically be self-supporting, we can talk about workable fixes. There’s a long way to go toward improved access, quality, and cost-effectiveness. Some suggestions, highlighted by the Galen Institute‘s Grace-Marie Turner:
Gov. Daniels [of Indiana] says that [state] employees become more active participants in their health care, making smarter and more cost-effective decisions – visiting hospital emergency rooms 67% less often and using generic drugs more than those in conventional plans, for example. An independent survey by Mercer found no evidence that HSA members are deferring needed treatment or preventive care.
Many companies, such as Whole Foods, offer another form of CDHC plan called Health Reimbursement Arrangements. HRAs give employers more flexibility in shaping their health benefit packages, including the ability to offer account-based plans and provide incentives for prevention and wellness activities. But, unlike HSAs, HRA account balances generally are not portable after employees leave the company.
Both products are helping to make health insurance more affordable and are helping companies to lower health costs.
Competition works when consumers are engaged in getting better value for their health care dollars. Policymakers would be well-advised to make sure that these consumer-friendly plans remain as an option for both individuals and employers so they can continue to have these tools to engage employees as partners in managing health costs.