A report titled "Health Care in the 2012 Presidential Election: How the Obama and Romney Plans Stack Up" endeavors to answer one of the biggest questions for seniors: What will happen to my healthcare under each candidate?
The 58-page report, released today by The Commonwealth Fund, compares the elements of each candidate’s health plan and makes projections as to the impact on seven key areas, including healthcare quality, Medicare, consumer choice, the price of insurance and the number of uninsured.
Projections are built on three scenarios: A fully implemented Affordable Care Act (ACA) under Obama, the state block-grant program for Medicaid and the health insurance tax restructuring proposed under Romney, and the baseline of the health insurance system before the ACA. For elements within either campaign that have not been fully mapped out by the candidates, the report identifies what assumptions the projections have been based on, especially concerning the Romney proposal to provide states with block grants for Medicaid programs.
A long-volatile topic is how both campaigns are handling consumers’ choices for healthcare coverage. Under Obama’s plan, states would have the option to create state health exchanges that will offer consumers at least four different price-tiers of insurance coverage. Under Romney’s plan, insurance companies would choose their own states, using market-based ratings to establish premiums, the report explains.
Medicare is another subject of contention between the two campaigns. Under Obama, the ACA has enacted many changes to Medicare already, including a strategy to eliminate the “doughnut hole” coverage gap in Medicare Part D medication benefits, the report states. Under Romney, Medicare Part D would return to its previous state of cost-sharing, while beneficiaries would receive lump sums to apply toward either Medicare or private insurance.
Another key figure emerging from the report is the number of uninsured: Using the baseline, 60 million Americans are projected to be uninsured by 2022. Under Obama’s plan, the nation is projected to have 27.1 million uninsured, compared to 72 million under Romney’s plan during the same time span.
The report’s six co-authors, most of whom have economics or health policy backgrounds, are all part of The Commonwealth Fund, a private, New York-based foundation that promotes improvements in healthcare system quality and access.