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Paragon Informs Congress About the Unaffordability of Health Care

Paragon Newsletter
President at Paragon Health Institute
Brian Blase, Ph.D., is the President of Paragon Health Institute. Brian was Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the White House’s National Economic Council (NEC) from 2017-2019, where he coordinated the development and execution of numerous health policies and advised the President, NEC director, and senior officials. After leaving the White House, Brian founded Blase Policy Strategies and serves as its CEO.

Educating Congress

This afternoon at 2pm, I will be testifying at a House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health hearing, “Why Health Care is Unaffordable: The Fallout of Democrats’ Inflation on Patients and Small Businesses.” You can watch the hearing here. I appreciate the opportunity to provide information to Congress, and I will join a panel with several small business owners who will testify about the negative impact government policy has had on their ability to offer affordable health insurance to their employees.

In my testimony, I explain how well-intended government policies often lead to higher health care costs for the American people. I discuss how health insurance premiums and deductibles soared because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the problem of simply expanding government subsidies to deal with those rising prices.

I provide several suggestions for how to reform government subsidies, including grandfathering existing enrollees who receive expanded subsidies and permitting low-income enrollees to secure a portion of their subsidy as a health savings account (HSA) deposit so they have direct control and can spend the money in the ways that makes them best off. I explained this first proposal in a Wall Street Journal piece last year, and I coauthored a Paragon report on the second proposal (The HSA Option) last year.

My testimony also discusses how Congress could build on existing policies that expand coverage options and improve incentives for Americans to get value from health care without any new government spending.

  • Association Health Plans would allow more small employers to have economies of scale in obtaining health insurance for their employees, making coverage more affordable.
  • Individual coverage HRAs enable employers to offer employee health insurance by making tax preferred contributions so their workers can buy coverage that works better for them.
  • Price transparency rules empower patients and employers to know prices before purchasing services.
  • HSAs give people incentives to ensure value from their health care expenditures.

Merkel on Expanding the Health Care Workforce

Paragon’s new senior research fellow Theo Merkel submitted a response to a request for information (RFI) from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on the drivers and potential solutions for health care workforce shortages. From his letter:

“To the extent that the United States is suffering from a health care workforce shortage, it is largely self-inflicted by decades of misguided public policy. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities for stakeholders, including both federal and state lawmakers, to improve upon the present circumstance. However, Congress should be wary of recommendations that double down on the same programs that, despite 40 to 50 years of taxpayer financing, have still failed to produce compelling evidence of their effectiveness.”

Theo makes several recommendations:

  1. To relax current bottlenecks in training of clinicians
  2. To not expand federally funding programs with limited evidence of effectiveness.
  3. To encourage a more efficient workforce
  4. Eliminate barriers to technology
  5. Reduce reliance on price controls

Thanks for taking time to read. I hope you have a great rest of the week.

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