Health Insurance Reforms Easy To Insure Me Health Insurance Quotes

11310573432_buyindhi.jpgPresident Obama’s Health Insurance Bill

President Obama Releases New Health Care Proposal in Time for Health Summit: On Monday February 22, 2010, White House officials unveiled a new health insurance reform overhaul that builds on the Senate version passed last Christmas Eve, with some changes aimed at pleasing House Democrats who had concerns with the Senate bill. The President’s proposal does not include the public option, despite the hopes of Senate Democrats, due to White House concerns that the provision will hinder passage in the Senate. President Obama ignored requests by Republicans to scratch the Democratic plan and start over. As such, Republican leaders questioned Democratic motives and labeled the bill as a massive government takeover of America’s health care system.

Republicans Insist House Democrats Don’t Have the Votes to Pass Legislation: Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced on Wednesday that Democrats don’t have the necessary votes to pass the President’s proposal in the House because of three new House vacancies and lagging support among some moderate Democrats. At issue for some Democrats are weaker abortion provisions in the President’s proposal as well as the ongoing controversy over passing a bill by a simple majority, a process known as reconciliation.

Health Care Summit Preview

On Thursday, the President’s Health Care Summit began at 10:00 a.m. with opening comments from the President, followed by remarks from both Republicans and Democrats. The discussion centered on four themes: controlling health care costs, overhauling the insurance market, reducing the deficit and expanding insurance coverage. Prior to Thursday, several top Republicans and some Democrats stated that expectations were extremely low for the Summit’s success.

House Republicans arrived armed with their own version of a health care bill that encourages small businesses to join together to buy insurance, gives federal money to states to run high-risk pools for those unable to obtain private insurance and limits damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. The Republican plan would cost $61 billion and cover three million people over ten years. In contrast, President Obama contends his plan would cost $950 billion and cover 30 million people over the same time period. However, officials at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicated they would not be able to officially score the President’s proposal with just a summary – that legislative language is needed.

Note: A full summary of the results from the Health Care Summit will be included in next week’s newsletter

Additional Activities

WellPoint Executives Defend Premium Increases: On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to examine the proposed health insurance premium increases by Anthem Blue Cross in California. Anthem, a WellPoint subsidiary, recently informed subscribers in California that premiums for individual insurance policies would be raised an average of 25 percent, with some rates going up as much as 39 percent. Angela Braly, president of WellPoint , said the premium increases were justified by soaring medical costs, and that pending legislation could make the problem worse, driving up costs further for young, healthy people.

“Raising our premiums was not something we wanted to do,” Ms. Braly said . “But we believe this was the most prudent choice, given the rising cost of care and the problems caused by many younger and healthier policyholders dropping or reducing their coverage during tough economic times. By law, premiums must be reasonable in relationship to benefits provided, which means they need to reflect the known and anticipated costs they will cover.”

In Sacramento , Leslie Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, also testified before lawmakers, joined by vice president and general manager James Oatman. The focus of that hearing was also the proposed premium increase for California members in the individual market, with company executives pointing to the current economic climate and rising health care costs as reasons for the rate hikes.

U.S. House of Representatives Repeals Antitrust Exemption from Health Insurance Companies: On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted 406-19 in favor of repealing a 65-year-old antitrust exemption from health insurance companies. Democrats said the repeal would lead to increased scrutiny of the industry. Yet, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said last year that repealing the exemption would not significantly reduce premiums because states already investigate health insurance companies.

In addition, industry executives pointed out that legislation could further hinder competition and the ability to share information to improve health care quality. “Health insurance is one of the most regulated industries in America at both the federal and the state levels,” said Karen Ignani, president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). “The real focus should be on addressing the rising cost of medical care, which is putting an unsustainable burden on families, employers and the federal budget,” she said.

Public Opinion

Polling Suggest Health Care Reform is Still Key to Economic Recovery: Recent polling on health care reform shows mixed reaction among the public over the proposed legislation. According to a recent CNN poll, 48 percent of those questioned said lawmakers should work on an entirely new bill and 25 percent felt that Congress should stop work on health care reform altogether.

According to the monthly poll from the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 75 percent of Americans still think it’s important that Obama include health care reform in addressing the nation’s economic crisis, while many still harbor doubts about the legislation.

When asked how health care legislation relates to their economic situation:

* Nearly 31 percent said they thought the Democratic bills would make their personal financial situation worse, compared with 10 percent who said it would improve their family budgets.
* Forty-two percent said the nation’s fiscal condition would suffer because of the legislation, compared with 26 percent who said it would get better.
* Americans were divided on whether the Democrats’ approach would improve overall access to health care around the country, with 35 percent saying it would and nearly that many disagreeing.

Health Insurance Coverage Varies Widely Based on Age: Coming just before the President’s Summit on Health Care Reform, a newly released Gallup Poll reinforces the wide degree of variability in health insurance coverage across U.S. population segments, especially when it comes to age. Eighty-four percent of 18-year-olds have health insurance, most likely because they are still covered under their parents’ policies. By age 22, health insurance coverage reaches its lowest point, with just 66 percent maintaining coverage. From age 22 on, the percentage of Americans with health insurance begins to climb, albeit slowly, reaching the 95 percent level at age 65 when Medicare becomes an option.

Looking Ahead

Legislators need to determine next steps for health care legislation coming out of the President’s Health Care Reform Summit. On Wednesday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius invited executives from the top five insurance companies to meet at HHS to discuss their companies’ insurance premiums.

Individual Health Insurance Reform Future Proceedings Easy To Insure Me

01310573431_california-health-insurance-doctor.jpgMARCH 26, 2010

This Week in Health Care Reform     

Health care reform legislation passed the House this week on a party-line vote. Late Sunday night, House Democrats approved the Senate health care reform package, sending the legislation to President Obama for his signature. On Tuesday, President Obama signed the underlying bill into law, yet the House has yet to finalize the package of “fixes” that will alter the final implications of the legislation.

Health Care Reform Negotiations

House Democrats Pass Health Care Reform Package: The House of Representatives approved the Senate health care reform bill Sunday night by a vote of 219 to 212. The vote marks the climactic finale to a year-long debate over health care reform. In the final vote, 34 Democrats joined all House Republicans in voting against the measure. Shortly thereafter, the House also passed a package of “fixes,” by a vote of 220-211, that was sent directly to the Senate for its approval through reconciliation. On Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the Senate health care reform bill, called the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Republicans Force Senate to Send the Reconciliation Bill Back to the House: Shortly after the President signed the Senate bill into law, Senators began deliberations on the reconciliation bill. Reconciliation protocol restricts Senators to 20 hours of debate on the measure, but it does not limit the number of amendments that can be filed. In an expression of opposition to the bill, Republicans filed 29 amendments to the reconciliation package.

After 10 hours of continuous debate, Republicans were successful in eliminating two provisions related to college financial aid in the non-health care portion of the bill. The Senate parliamentarian ruled early Thursday morning that those two provisions violated the chamber’s rules, sending the legislation back to the House for a new vote. As a result, on Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted on the reconciliation bill without those two provisions and sent the bill  back to the House for a vote on final passage. The House vote will likely come Thursday evening.

What Does This Health Care Reform Legislation Mean: While the health care reform bill extends insurance coverage to 32 million more Americans by 2019, the legislation has other far-reaching implications that will be phased in sooner, during a multi-year implementation period.

Several features of the new health care overhaul bill that would take effect in 2010 under the measure passed Sunday include:

* New product requirements beginning 6 months after enactment, including:
o Coverage for dependents up to age 26
o No lifetime maximum benefit limits
o And no cost sharing on preventive care for certain policyholders
* Temporary federal high risk pools;
* Tax credits for small employers; and
* Prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions for children (beginning 6 months after enactment).

Most Americans will have until 2014 to purchase insurance or pay a penalty. Other elements of the bill that will not take effect until at least 2014 include insurance marketplaces called “exchanges”; rules requiring insurers to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions, and an expansion of state Medicaid programs.

A number of experts question whether health care reform will really drive down insurance premiums. America’s Health Insurance Plans ( AHIP), the trade group representing health insurers, outlines a series of concerns related to the legislation including a lack of provisions that address underlying health care costs, improve quality of care or ensure a stable risk pool. In addition, AHIP expressed concerns regarding new taxes on health coverage, which will likely increase premiums.

Additional Activities

Obama’s Executive Order on Abortion Funding: On Sunday afternoon, prior to the final House vote on health care reform, President Obama agreed to issue an Executive Order that would uphold the ban on federal funding for abortion . In so doing, he secured about a half-dozen votes from anti-abortion Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), who previously opposed the legislation. On Wednesday, President Obama signed the Executive Order banning the government from spending federal money to pay for abortions through plans offered on the insurance exchanges created under the measure.

States Filing Lawsuit to Fight Provision of Health Care Reform Bill: In response to the new health care reform legislation, states across the country have filed lawsuits asking the courts to declare the law unconstitutional and to bar its enforcement. On Monday,Attorneys General in 13 states, led by Florida, filed a joint lawsuit claiming that the new health care reforms violate state government rights in the U.S. Constitution and will force massive new spending on hard-pressed state governments. Joining Florida in the suit are Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

At the same time, the Attorney General in Virginia filed a separate suit contending that Congress has exceeded its power in mandating that people buy health insurance. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli argues that the new law’s requirement clashes with Virginia law that exempts citizens from federal fines imposed for not having health insurance.

Senate Voting to Extend COBRA Until May 5:  Senate Democrats plan another short-term extension of unemployment aid this week, setting up a face-off with Republicans, who are vowing to fight the extension if the $10 billion cost isn’t offset with spending cuts. The bill, currently set to expire on April 5, would extend a series of emergency programs – including funding for unemployment insurance benefits and COBRA health coverage for the jobless  – and would hold off a deep cut in reimbursement rates for doctors who serve Medicare patients. The long-term extension has already passed in both the House and Senate, but the two measures are not expected to be reconciled and sent to the President’s desk until after the Easter recess.

President Obama Heads to Iowa to Speak on Health Care: President Obama headed to Iowa on Thursday to increase support for his health care legislation. This was President Obama’sfirst trip out ofWashington since signing health care reform legislation earlier this week. He spoke at the University of Iowa, in the city where he first announced his health care proposal during the Presidential campaign.

Public Opinion

Most Americans Want Republicans to Fight Health Care Reform Bill: In a recent CBS News poll, 62 percent of Americans said they want congressional Republicans to continue challenging the bill, while 33 percent said they should not. Disapproval of the bill has remained steady, with 46 percent saying they disapprove, including 32 percent who “strongly” disapprove. A majority of Americans continue to say that they find the bill to be confusing and do not understand what it means for them or their family.

American’s Split on Health Care Reform Passage: In a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans said they were angry or disappointed with the recent passage of health care reform legislation. When asked to reveal party affiliation, 79 percent identified themselves as Republicans.

Polling Shows Support for State Lawsuits Against Government: National polling reveals significant opposition to the individual mandate. In a newly released Rasmussen report , 53 percent of those polled oppose the new mandate requiring every American to buy or obtain health insurance. Further, 49 percent of voters are in favor of their state suing the federal government to fight the mandate. Fifty-one percent say individual states should have the right to opt out of the health care plan entirely.

Looking Ahead

After this week’s final health care reform vote, President Obama plans to travel the country in the next few months to discuss the new law. Republicans have begun their own discussions of the law, with an eye towards the November elections.

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