Insurers Hope To Sway House-Senate Agreement Over Regulation, Taxes
House and Senate lawmakers as well as insurance companies all agree on the need for health insurance exchanges that would allow people who don't get coverage from their employers to shop for better values and compare plans. There is one matter of dispute, however, The Wall Street Journal reports:
"At issue is who should do the regulating -- the federal government, as the House bill says, or the states, as the Senate prescribes. House Democrats are pushing for federal regulation, in part as a concession for not getting a government-run insurance plan in the final bill. They say a strong federal hand would ensure uniform standards and make it harder for insurers to work through state legislatures to create loopholes." Meanwhile, insurers insist that states better understand local circumstance, including marketing abuses that may mislead customers (Adamy and Hitt, 12/8).
Meanwhile, lobbyists for health insurance companies "are pushing lawmakers to eliminate caps on profits and other administrative spending and delay a hefty, industry-wide tax under the massive healthcare reform legislation being finalized in the U.S. Congress," Reuters reports. The bills would require insurers to spend 80 percent to 85 percent of their revenues on medical care, rather than administrative costs and profits, and would levy $70 billion in new taxes on the industry over 10 years (Heavey, 1/7).