Nov 20, 2019

Blue states' watered-down health reforms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even the most ambitious Democratic-controlled states have ended up with new health plans that are much more moderate than anything being proposed by Democratic presidential candidates — or even what was initially proposed in their states.

Why it matters: States are significantly more limited in their authority than the federal government, but the efforts of Colorado, Washington and California show just how hard massive health care disruption is.

Driving the news: Colorado state agencies last week released their final proposal for the state's public option, which is scheduled to become available in 2022.

  • While an earlier draft had proposed hospital payment rates that were between 175% and 225% of Medicare, the updated version says that each hospital's rate will be determined individually through a formula that is yet to be developed — punting the decision.
  • "Obviously, where those prices ultimately land will have a big effect ton whether this proposal actually reduces spending. If the state cannot hold the line, then the potential for this type of proposal to reduce spending evaporates," the Brookings Institution's Matthew Fielder said.
  • The proposal also relies on private insurers to offer the plan — meaning that while it's highly regulated, it is not a fully government-run plan.

The big picture: Colorado's situation — along with other states' — provides a real-world contrast with some Democrats' plans to eliminate private insurance and slash provider payment rates.

  • Washington's public option is similarly structured as a partnership with private insurers, and while it caps provider rates at 160% of Medicare, this is a higher rate than initially proposed, as the NYT reported. Like Colorado's plan, provider participation is voluntary.
  • California took a different approach, expanding eligibility for Affordable Care Act enrollees and paying for the health benefits of some unauthorized immigrants.

What they're saying: "As much as there was a whole lot of energy behind more government intervention in health care after the 2018 election, I think that energy ran smack into some practical issues," Georgetown's Sabrina Corlette said.

The bottom line: Colorado's public option "demonstrates just how much space there is between doing nothing and implementing Medicare for All when trying to increase access to insurance and reduce costs," said Avalere's Chris Sloan.

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.