New Plan Outlined here
Looks like the roll out has begun:
President Obama will be adding a new element to the bill that wasn't in any of the passed legislation, a Health Insurance Rate Authority, which is meant to block increases in premium hikes that are deemed "unjustified" by a panel of players in the health/medical sector as well as the Sec. of Health and Human Services.
WASHINGTON – President Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation’s health care system, White House officials said.
Not being an expert on health policy, I don't know how effective a measure like this could become. But what it sounds like is that it takes the practical mechanism of the public option, which is to essentially hold down premiums through govt. competition, and to use the HIRA to force down premiums instead. If you've been paying attention to the debate over Anthem Blue Cross this past week, you would have noticed how the govt. essentially blocked their rate increases, albeit not indefinitely. That is a promising sign. Also, when this becomes law, the insurance company would be legally prohibited from such a rate hike.
The legislation would call on the secretary of health and human services to work with state regulators to develop an annual review of rate increases, and if increases are deemed “unjustified” the secretary or the state could block the increase, order the insurer to change it, or even issue a rebate to beneficiaries. States would be eligible for a portion of $250 million in grants finance premium review and approval.
So who is on the HIRA?
The new rate board would be composed of seven members, including consumer representatives, an insurance industry representative, a physician, and other experts such health economists and actuaries, the White House said. The board’s annual report would offer guidance to the public and states on whether rate increases should be approved.
Such a model has supposedly been in effect for 25 states where insurance commissions can regulate rates. Anyone have any info on how those states are doing? Senator Feinstein has been drawing up similar legislation for California in lieu of the Anthem Blue Cross outrage and Obama's plan seems to be co-opting the idea nationally.
In clear political terms, the proposal Obama is putting out will put Republicans on the defensive as they will either be forced, on camera, to defend why they are against holding insurance companies accountable or embrace an Obama idea. Of course, making Republicans defend indefensible positions on record has become the mantra of the Obama administration for 2010 (Read: Deficit Commission). Oh, hello Chicago Politics...where have you been?
And while they will likely resist any expansion of federal authority over existing state regulators, [Republicans] will also face a tough balancing act at Thursday’s summit meeting to avoid appearing as if they are willing to allow steep premium hikes like those by Anthem.
Senator Feinstein, in an interview on Sunday night, pointed to the $12.2 billion in profits reaped by the five biggest private insurers in 2009. “When you look at the profits in ’09,” she said, “up 56 percent over the year before, you begin to understand that something is going on that is not in the interests of the American people.”
I would love to see Republicans try to defend that.
As for the rest of the plan, it will be essentially the same elements of the House and Senate bills (i.e. national exchanges for individuals and small business markets, pre-existing condition prohibitions, excise tax, etc.)
And it looks like reconciliation seems like the only path left, unless there is some sort of breakthrough. Still, our spineless congressional leaders are fretting a measure THAT IS IN THE CONSTITUTION!!!
Yes, I know Harry Reid said he will use it within 60 days, but you can never know with Harry.
Even many Democratic lawmakers are skeptical that the complex health care legislation can be moved through using that parliamentary maneuver.
So don't let them back away!. Not NOW! Not when we are literally thisclose to passing health care reform. Let's keep the pressure on!
Thankfully, the Obama administration seems to have gotten the message that they need to go on offense and that is what this week and this summit will do.
We'll see what happens. This is high stakes poker...so GAME ON!