Presidential hopeful defends CDHC

By Jenny Ivy – published 2/10/2011 in Benefit Selling.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and 20 other GOP governors wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week, striking down “serious flaws” imbedded in the health care reform act – including the “discriminate” provision on health savings accounts.

Daniels – whose advocacy for “consumer consciousness” – has been well-documented in WSJ op-eds, points to the reform act’s provisions on health savings accounts.

Daniels has been a champion for HSAs since his state program was established to help low-wage earners pay for health care through a government-backed state HSA system, through which increased cigarette tax money is funneled toward expanded medical coverage.

Indiana has the highest state employee participation rate in these consumer-driven health plans.

Those eligible contribute a portion to their accounts based on a sliding income scale, and the state helps fund the rest, up to $1,100. Participants also get $500 worth of preventive care.

Then-HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt praised the plan, saying, “There is no other program out there as innovative as what I’m seeing here in Indiana.” Now, Daniels is warring with Sebelius on several matters concerning reform provisions, including the structure of state health exchanges, and says if states don’t get flexibility on operating these exchanges, HHS should prepare to deal with them on their own.

“While we hope for your endorsement, if you do not agree, we will move forward with our own efforts regardless and HHS should begin making plans to run exchanges under its own auspices,” the letter to Sebelius reads.

Ultimately, Daniels argues that reform stomps personal responsibility on the part of consumers, favors dependency, and will destroy the private insurance market. The presidential hopeful might be riding the reform hate train all the way to the White House in 2012.

Jenny Ivy is Managing Editor for Benefits Selling magazine. She can be reached at jivy@benefitssellingmag.com.

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