The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

Bill Richardson’s Health Care Reform Proposal: More Insured, Less Bureacracy

Posted by Alan on August 16, 2007


Bill Richardson is what’s called a second tier presidential candidate. He’s got a strong resume (Cabinet Secreatry, Congressman, Govenor), but has neither registered well in polls nor over-impressed with fundraising — yet. This makes his candidacy no less credible than others, it just means he has a steeper hill to climb.

Earlier this month, Governor Richardson unveiled his health care reform plan (Bill Richardson Health Care Reform Plan). As is proclaimed on his web site, Richardson believes “we need to make health care more affordable for all Americans, including those who are already covered. And any real solution to making health care more affordable for everybody must start with the commitment that all Americans should have health care coverage.”

Any of the Democratic candidates would be comfortable framing the goal of health care reform this way. What makes Governor Richardson’s position unique is how he goes about achieving trying to achieve this goal.

He wants to preserve consumer choice, so he proposes giving Americans to buy the same plan as do members of Congress, reducing the age for Medicare eligibility to 55, stronger Medicaid, Children Health Plans (like California’s Helathy Children program), and Veteran programs. Or, they could simply keep their current coverage. Few candidates have captured the simplicity of this latter provision. If consumers are happy with what they have, they can keep it.

The Richardson plan requires all Americans to purchase coverage and all carriers to accept all applicants. Yet, unlike most advocates of such arrangements, he does not call for the creation of a government-run pool, connector or exchange. This alone distinquishes his plan from those of other candidates. The Richardson health care reform plan subsidizes the cost of care through a sliding-scale tax credit and requires employers to contribute to health insurance.

The Richardson health care reform plan is less detailed than others, hopefully more specifics will be forthcoming. However, as a framework for change, it adds several worthwhile ideas into the Democratic campaign mix, including a vision for achieving universal coverage without creating government-run purchasing pools. The Richardson plan is certainly worthy of consideration and debate. Whether ideas from the second tier will get heard above the din of presidential primaries and sound bite debates remains to be seen.

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