Reflex: September 15, 2011

Congressional Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seek to repeal the employer mandate, reports Julian Pecquet (The Hill). “Bills to repeal the requirement that businesses provide their workers with quality health insurance starting in 2014 have garnered 34 co-sponsors in the Senate and 144 in the House.” Austin’s comment: It’s not hard to see why the Chamber and businesses it represents would want to lower their costs. However, decreasing incentives for employers to offer insurance would encourage them to drop it. (The same can be said of the Cadillac tax, but at least it raises revenue.) In a world where the ACA is fully implemented and exchanges are running smoothly, that may not be such a big problem. Do supporters of repeal of the employer mandate also fully support ACA implementation? (H/t, Igor Volsky)

Major worldwide killers are noncommunicable diseases, writes Madison Park. Heart disease, cancer, lung disease and diabetes killed 36 million people last year across the globe according to the WHO. They highlight the importance of cigarette smoking as a preventable cause of death. Don’s commentIn the U.S. the cost of smoking is mostly borne by the smoker due to a shortened lifespan. It is unclear how such a cost finding study of global smoking would differ in magnitude of cost, but the smoker could be expected to bear the brunt of the cost via a shortened life. There are clear longevity gains to be had from smoking cessation.

The health industry case for raising Medicare’s eligibility age, writes Sarah Kliff. “Most observers… didn’t expect to see the health industry publicly promote raising Medicare’s eligibility age — a politically fraught position. But they probably won’t fight it, and they may quietly support it.” Aaron’s comment: The likely explanation is that it won’t cost providers anything. They may even make more money as  private insurance generally reimburses more than Medicare. Also, if this is where Medicare cuts come from, then they’re less likely to come from reduced provider reimbursements. But, as we’ve already written here, this is a an idea with baggage.

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