Health Overhaul Policy Tidbits
NPR: For those who have forgotten what the Senate's bill would actually do as the debate has turned to politics and procedure, "a short refresher" may come in handy. The legislation's main concepts include the requirement that individuals buy health insurance, a plan that would help eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions and spread risk more widely, and subsidies to help people buy coverage to meet the new requirement (Rovner, 3/9).
The New York Times: One idea President Obama has asked Congress to add to that is "a proposal for federal review and regulation of health insurance premiums, with a new agency empowered to block excessive rate increases." But, "State officials are leery of the proposal, which raises a host of questions: How would Congress define 'excessive'? How would the new federal power relate to state insurance regulation?" A chief concern is that efforts to prevent "excessive" increases could leave insurers insolvent by not allowing them to recoup enough money to pay their claims (Pear, 3/8).
Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: Another pending change to the legislation could "require businesses to count part-time workers when calculating penalties for failing to provide coverage." As passed, the Senate bill would only penalize employers if they fail to provide coverage to full-time employees. Apparently, Democrats worried that businesses would begin hiring more part-time workers to avoid the fees (Werner, 3/8).
The Hill : Possibly complicating matters, Senate Democratic leaders have decided to include a provision cutting out the private-sector middleman for government loans in the health overhaul package. "Several of the Democrats who are expected to oppose the student loan legislation are centrists who could reconsider their support for healthcare reform if the two issues are joined." Leaders appeared ready to reverse themselves if opposition proves stiff. The change could save the government $67 billion but could cost the loan industry 35,000 jobs, the industry says (Bolton, 3/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.