Baucus' Plans Holds Hope For Healthcare Banking
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16 September 2009
Senator Max Baucus' (D-MT) long-awaited healthcare reform bill Chairman's Mark (draft) was finally released today. I haven't had chance to dive into the details, but a few interesting healthcare banking-related points jumped out:
- The worst-case scenario did not materialize: FSAs, HSAs and HSAs are not targeted for extinction.
- However, there will be limited contribution amounts for FSAs (there weren't any before). Also, there will be stiffer penalties for misuse of HSA funds. Furthermore, HSA contributions from employers and/or salary reduction contributions from employees will be figured into calculations for excise taxes on "gold-plated" health plans.
- Something that makes me very happy -- healthy lifestyle incentives! The bill draft reads: "The Chairman‘s Mark would authorize and appropriate $100 million over five years for the Secretary to establish an initiative to provide incentives to Medicare beneficiaries who successfully complete certain healthy lifestyle programs. Programs would target the following risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol; tobacco use, overweight or obesity, diabetes and falls. The Secretary would establish a system to monitor beneficiary participation and validate the results, as well as set standards and health status targets for participating beneficiaries. Prior to establishing the initiative, the Secretary would review evidence concerning healthy lifestyle programs and providing incentives to individuals for participating in such programs. The initiative would be implemented on January 1, 2011".