Friday, February 2, 2007

Gimme a Break (a tax break, that is)

Actually, Missouri governor Matt Blunt plans to do just that: in order to encourage employers to offer group health plans, those that do will see their state franchise tax waived.
And that's just one of his six principles for reducing the number of uninsured folks. He's also proposing a health insurance purchasing pool for individuals without health coverage (more than 30 states have some form of risk pool). He also favors allowing employers and employees to pay health insurance premiums with tax-free dollars (although that one's a puzzler: most group plans are set up to do just that, and Section 125 "POP" plans are pretty inexpensive options for those that don't).
On the Medicaid front, the governor proposes expanding wellness and disease management services, and performance-based compensation for providers. Not bad.
Governor Blunt also favors making long term care insurance premiums 100% deductible.
By far the most ambitious aspect of this is his showcase plan, MO HealthNet, which would replace the current Medicaid program. The goal would be "improving health care for low income Missourians by giving participants meaningful choices...[and] empower participants by providing opportunities for prevention and wellness." A lofty goal, but perhaps attainable. After all, he's willing to put up $20 million of taxpayer funds to see these changes implemented.
I'm actually rather pleased to see this: as mentioned before, I'm a proponent of state-based health care and health insurance initiatives. This pilot program should add valuable data as we see what types of changes work, and which ones fall short.


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