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Key Discrepancies , Slower Health Spending

Today, the House Tri-Committee released an important overview of the key priorities to be reconciled between the House and Senate bills. Be sure to check out some of the interesting revenue streams at the bottom of the document to answer the “How are we going to pay for it?” question. Here are some of the better halves of the major discrepancies from the brief:

-Expands coverage to more uninsured individuals
-Establishes a stronger minimum benefits package
-Implements Health Insurance Exchange sooner
-Repeals insurer anti-trust exemption
-Increases Medicaid primary care reimbursement to Medicare levels
-Medicaid to 150% FPL and higher federal match to states
-Phases out donut hole and realizes greater savings from Medicare Advantage
-Public Option

-Includes higher premium rating for tobacco users
-3:1 age rating bands for insurance premium variation
-Nelson abortion amendment (coverage separate from public funds with state opt-out)
-Greater savings in DSH payments
-Extends CHIP through 2015
-Medicare Payment Advisory Board (MEDPAC with teeth)

In other news, a CMS report released today in Health Affairs shows that health spending growth decreased in 2008 to 4.4%, the slowest rate in nearly half a century. Health spending now represents 16.2% of GDP ($2.3 trillion), or $7,681 per person. Though curbing spending growth is arguably the greatest long-term concern in the American health care system, the situation is unfortunately not an improvement. As the authors state, “the current economic recession appears to have exerted considerable influence on the health sector in 2008,” and “increases in this spending continue to outpace growth in the resources (GDP) available to pay for it.”