Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Managed Competition in Health Care Could Lower Services, Study Asserts

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Managed Competition in Health Care Could Lower Services, Study Asserts

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Managed competition in health care would probably mean less choice of doctors and fewer medical services for most Americans, a congressional study said Thursday.

The Clinton administration is building its health reform proposals around the largely untested concept, combined with spending limits.

The Congressional Budget Office study did not pass judgment on President Clinton's still unfinished plan, but explored the theory of unleashing market forces to make consumers and providers more cost-conscious.

If managed competition were to produce big savings in the nation's $912 billion medical bill, it would include hard-to-swallow medicine for consumers, insurers and providers alike, the study said.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health, called managed competition "a fairy tale" that the Clinton administration should reconsider.

Clinton has promised his health proposals will slow medical inflation and provide coverage for the nation's 37 million uninsured.

"We believe in competition. What we don't believe in is the tooth fairy," said Stark in releasing the 43-page Congressional Budget Office report.

Under managed competition, the government would create health insurance purchasing cooperatives in every state for individuals, most businesses, the poor and uninsured.

These co-ops are intended to have the clout to drive hard bargains with networks of doctors and hospitals. Insurance plans would offer standard benefit packages, with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

Employers could contribute no more than a fixed dollar amount toward employees' health benefits, the Congressional Budget Office noted. Employees who wanted more expensive coverage would have to pay extra for it with after-tax dollars. …

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