Business Groups Note Faults In House Democrats’ Overhaul Plan
House Democrats readying a health reform bill without a price tag or a budget analysis will hear from business interests today that their plan is irrevocably broken and that they need to start from scratch, CongressDaily reports.
"With its strongest language yet, the business community today will condemn House Democrats' health reform proposal and tell lawmakers the bill is 'broken beyond repair. ... Congress should take this legislation back to the drawing board,' U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president Randel Johnson said in testimony prepared for a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on health care today."
Sticking points in the bill include the public plan that "would adhere to the same rules as private plans with pay rates similar to Medicare" and individual and employer insurance coverage mandates, the latter getting a decisive thumbs-down from the Chamber.
"The shift comes after months of generally positive rhetoric on health care from a variety of interest groups, a tone that has shifted markedly as details of plans have emerged from both sides of the Capitol. The Chamber criticized the process used to develop the bill, echoing congressional Republicans who have complained that Democrats are moving too quickly and not allowing the minority adequate time to evaluate proposals" (Hunt, 6/24).
The public plan remains contentious, The San Francisco Chronicle reports: "Sharp ideological divisions emerged at Tuesday's hearing before Miller's House Education and Labor Committee, with Republicans asking how a public plan would work better to contain costs than Medicaid and Medicare, and warning that any public plan would destroy the employer-based system of health insurance. Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the insurance industry trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, warned Tuesday that a government health plan would dismantle private insurers" (Lochhead, 6/24).
Other groups are also criticizing parts of the House bill - like cutting Medicare payments for tests such as MRIs and other medical scans, The Associated Press reports: "Patients, rural doctors and advocacy groups who back the procedures will gather in the House Wednesday for a panel discussion."
"Use of the procedures grew to 182 million in 2007, according to an industry study. The Obama administration cites figures showing Medicare's price tag for the services doubled from $7 billion in 2000 to $14 billion in 2006. Though that spending dropped to $12 billion in 2007 as cuts enacted by Congress took effect, the administration says overly generous reimbursement rates and other factors encourage doctors to overuse imaging equipment. Obama has proposed reducing the Medicare payments by $5.9 billion over the next decade - a plan doctors and equipment makers say is based on flawed, outdated data" (Fram, 6/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.