Obesity Among Other Issues Debated In Health Reform
Among other issues making news in the health care reform debate are people's weight, benefits for homosexual partners, the debate over interstate insurance and the timeline for implementing any changes.
The New York Times on the weight issue. "Heavier Americans are pushing back now with newfound vigor in the policy debate, lobbying legislators and trying to move public opinion to recognize their point of view: that thin does not necessarily equal fit, and that people can be healthy at any size."
Congress is considering making it easier for employers to financially reward employees who practice healthy behavior, like losing weight. But the provisions are seeing push back from some, including the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, who advocates for heavier people. "On Capitol Hill, the association asked legislators for a public option from which fat people could not be excluded because of weight and for coverage that did not consider excess weight a pre-existing condition." Some feel encouraged that the House bill does not allow pricing changes based on obesity (Saulny, 11/7).
(Related KHN story: Just Rewards? Healthy Workers Might Get Bigger Insurance Breaks - Carey, 7/28)
The New York Times in a separate story reports on nutrition labeling requirements, lower taxes for gay couples who receive health benefits from employers and a new program on teaching parents how to interact with their children. "Those are some of the little-noticed provisions in a mammoth health care bill taken up Saturday by the House of Representatives." Under the bill, benefits for gay partners would be tax-free, chain restaurants with more than 20 locations would have to provide calorie counts for food they offer (Pear, 11/7).
Kaiser Health News reports on the debate over selling insurance over state lines. "Some insurers support the GOP approach (to allow the sale of health insurance over state lines), as does the National Federation of Independent Business, which says it would help the self-employed and also hopes lawmakers would give small employers the opportunity to buy workers' insurance this way. But critics say the provision would erode many state government consumer protections, leave policyholders with inadequate coverage and could actually lead to higher premiums for some people" (Galewitz, 11/8).
The Los Angeles Times has a Q&A on the timeline for implementing the reforms. "The proposed insurance exchange, a regulated marketplace, would not be in place until 2013. Medicaid expansion and the payment of premium subsidies to individuals and small employers would also begin in 2013. In the meantime, however, the House bill would create a program providing immediate, temporary coverage for the uninsured" (Geiger and Oliphant, 11/8).
The Wall Street Journal has a list of what the House bill would mean for various groups including the uninsured, the insured, employers, hospitals, doctors, insurers and pharmaceutical companies (11/9).