Stephanie Kennan Comments on Medicare for All Legislation for Healthcare Finance

March 4, 2019

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Last week, House Democrats introduced a Medicare for All Act, hoping to establish a national health insurance program for universal coverage.

In a Feb. 28 article for Healthcare Finance, McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president, Stephanie Kennan, commented on current Medicare trends.

Medicare for all would expand the existing Medicare program, replacing current coverage, including Medicaid. Medicare has expanded benefits in the past by contracting with private plans to provide the Medicare Advantage option. A third of all Medicare beneficiaries have a Medicare Advantage plan, and that number is expected to grow.

“There can be a Medicare for all system that does not do away with private insurers. One could establish a federal public option built upon the Affordable Care Act to allow for a blend of private insurance and public coverage,” Kennan said. “The public plan option could be offered alongside private insurance through the ACA marketplace and small employers.”

As it stands, payers are against a plan that would eliminate private insurance, and providers believe that a government-run health plan would result in lower reimbursement. The proposal released by Democrats last week excludes private insurance from providing the same benefits covered by the government plan.

“The bill gives physicians the option not to participate, but there would not be a lot of avenues for them to choose whether to be in or out,” Kennan said.

The introduced legislation has the federal government paying for health coverage, and employers and private insurers would not be prohibited from providing and selling the same benefits, but could provide supplemental coverage.

“With Medicare for all, there’s a lot of different ways to do it,” Kennan added. “It reduces the role of private insurance. I think Americans like choice.”