A New Plan to Expand Health Care Coverage — and Contain Costs

A New Plan to Expand Health Care Coverage — and Contain Costs

medical stethoscope
iStockphoto/vetkit
By Yuval Rosenberg

Economists at the Urban Institute this week released a new health-care policy proposal. The plan would leave Medicare and employer-based health care coverage in place but add a new, Medicare-style “Healthy America” marketplace with public and private insurer options for everyone else. The Urban economists say their plan “is less ambitious than a single-payer system (i.e., Medicare for All), but it would get close to universal coverage with much lower increases in federal spending and less disruption for people currently enrolled in employer coverage or Medicare.”

As for the costs, the authors estimate it would be about $98 billion in the first year.

The Washington Post Editorial Board says the proposal serves as a reminder that “there are options that are neither as cruel as the GOP’s miserly repeal-and-replace nor as disruptive as the more sweeping left-wing proposals” for single-payer plans. “In other words, they are compassionate and realistic.” Read the Urban Institute’s plan here.

The US Is Running Short on More Than 200 Drugs

Pharmaceutical Drugs
© Srdjan Zivulovic / Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The U.S. is officially running short on 202 drugs, including some medical staples like epinephrine, morphine and saline solution. “The medications most vulnerable to running short have a few things in common: They are generic, high-volume, and low-margin for their makers—not the cutting-edge specialty drugs that pad pharmaceutical companies’ bottom lines,” Fortune’s Erika Fry reports. “Companies have little incentive to make the workhorse drugs we use most.” And much of the problem — “The situation is an emer­gency waiting to be a disaster,” one pharmacist says — can be tied to one company: Pfizer. Read the full story here.

Chart of the Day: Could You Handle a Sudden $400 Expense?

iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

More Americans say they are living comfortably or at least “doing okay” financially, according to the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017. At the same time, four in 10 adults say that, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, they would not be able to cover it or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money. That represents an improvement from 2013, when half of all adults said they would have trouble handling such an expense, but suggests that many Americans are still close to the edge when it comes to their personal finances.

Kevin Brady Introduces Welfare Reform Bill

File photo of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brady questioning witness at Joint Economic Committee hearing in Washington
GARY CAMERON
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Tax Policy Center’s Daily Deduction reports that Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday introduced The Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act (H.R. 5861). “The bill would rename the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and target benefits to the lowest-income households. Although the House GOP leadership promised to include an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit as part of an upcoming welfare reform bill, this measure does not appear to include any EITC provisions.” The committee will mark up the bill on Wednesday

Who Will Pay the AMT in 2018?

The Alternative Minimum Tax, designed to make sure the wealthy pay income tax, will hit nearly 29 million people unless Congress acts before the end of this year
Nick Bhardwaj/The Fiscal Times
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The GOP tax cuts expanded an exemption for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and changed tax breaks that often triggered the tax. As a result, The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Saunders reports, “This year’s AMT is a shadow of its former self. It is expected to raise about $5 billion for 2018, down from an estimated $39 billion under prior law, according to the Tax Policy Center.” The AMT will likely hit some 200,000 tax filers for 2018, down from roughly 5 million who would have had to pay if the tax cuts hadn’t been passed. And the number of people making $500,000 or less who owe the AMT will fall to about 120,000 this year from 4 million last year, a Tax Policy Center economist tells the Journal.