GOP Health Reform Bill Takes Shape As Draft Circulates On Capitol Hill
The Associated Press: "After months spent criticizing Democrats' health overhaul plans, House Republicans have produced a draft proposal of their own. It's much shorter and focuses on bringing down costs rather than extending coverage to nearly all Americans." The 230-page draft document "leaves out a number of the key features of the Democrats' 1,990-page legislation, such as new requirements for employers to insure their employees and for nearly all Americans to purchase insurance."
The Republican measure includes "incentives for people to use health savings accounts, caps non-economic jury awards in medical malpractice cases at $250,000, provides various incentives to states with the aim of driving down premium costs and allows health insurance to be sold across state lines." Democrats immediately dismissed the plan as "insubstantial." (Werner, 11/3).
Kaiser Health News notes that "GOP aides cautioned that the draft was still being refined" and has posted the text of the draft bill. The GOP plan "will be offered as an amendment to the Democratic bill" and Republicans say it "is a far less costly and intrusive approach to helping the uninsured than the Democratic proposals in the House and Senate" (11/3).
Roll Call: "People with pre-existing medical conditions would pay up to 50 percent more for insurance coverage under a draft version of House Republicans' health care plan. ... According to the draft, states would also be mandated to subsidize high-risk insurance pools to cover people denied coverage by insurance companies with 'a stable funding source.' The GOP plan includes $15 billion to aid states in paying for those pools over the next decade ... Most states already have such pools, but they often include significantly higher premiums and have not made much of a dent in the tens of millions who are uninsured."
"(t)he Republican measure has no limits on annual out-of-pocket costs, nor does it provide any direct assistance for uninsured people to buy insurance" (Dennis, 11/3).
The Hill: "According to the Republican amendment, the new legislation would authorize billions in subsidies to states that reduce the 'annual per capita premium for health insurance coverage' or develop new programs that cover more of their residents over a period of 10 years." In addition, "[t]he draft proposal would extend insurance coverage for dependents until they turn 25 years old, and it would ban the use of federal funds on coverage plans that include abortion, except in the case of rape, incest or harm to the mother." But the measure "takes special care to exclude illegal aliens" from any of its proposed reforms (O'Brien and Romm, 11/3).
The Wall Street Journal: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., criticized the Republican proposal, "saying it would do little to extend insurance to those who don't have it or bring costs down for those currently with coverage." Hoyer said that allowing insurance to be sold across state lines "could 'gut consumer protections' and 'encourage a race to the bottom.' He said insurance firms could establish themselves in states with the lightest regulatory burden. The number two House Democrat was also critical of a proposal by the Republicans to allow individuals and small businesses to pool together to exert greater pressure on insurers to bring costs down. Mr. Hoyer said it would lead to cherry picking of the healthiest people by insurers" (Boles, 11/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.