Insurers Agree To Administration View On Kids’ Coverage
Uncertainty over whether the health overhaul would deliver promised insurance protections to children came to a quick end Monday when insurers told the administration they would not seek to block regulations clarifying the matter, The Associated Press reports. At issue is whether insurers would be required to offer plans to children with preexisting conditions right away. They will, conceded the top insurance industry lobbyist in a letter to health secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Quick resolution of the doubts was a win for Obama - and a sign that the industry has no stomach for another war of words with a president who deftly used double-digit rate hikes by the companies to revive his sweeping health care legislation from near collapse in Congress." In a "sternly worded" letter earlier Monday, Sebelius told insurers, "Health insurance reform is designed to prevent any child from being denied coverage because he or she has a pre-existing condition" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/30).
America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance lobby, "said de-linking the requirement to insure sick children from the law's mandate that everyone buy health-insurance coverage, which goes into effect in 2014, could drive up prices in the meantime," The Wall Street Journal reports. "But the group said it would do whatever [the Department of Health and Human Services] tells it to do" (Johnson, 3/30).
Earlier in the week, Reuters explains, "insurers agreed that if they provide insurance for a child, they must cover pre-existing conditions, but that the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the "availability of coverage" for all until 2014." Sebelius told them in Monday's letter, "Now is not the time to search for non-existent loopholes that preserve a broken system" (Holland, 3/29).