Insurance News

House Republicans Offer Health Overhaul Plan

Posted on: November 6, 2009

House Republicans unveiled their health reform proposal Tuesday night.

Their alternative health care bill “would reward states for reducing the number of uninsured, limit damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and allow small businesses to band together and buy insurance exempt from most state regulation,” The New York Times reports. “In its opening section, the Republican bill, which has no chance of passing, promises to lower health care costs and expand insurance coverage ‘without raising taxes, cutting Medicare benefits for seniors, adding to the national deficit, intervening in the doctor-patient relationship or instituting a government takeover of health care.'”

Unlike the Democratic bill, the Republican version “would not require people to obtain insurance or require employers to offer it. … It would not expand Medicaid or offer federal subsidies to low- and middle-income people to help them buy insurance.” The proposal also “would not explicitly prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing medical conditions, even though many Republicans have said they agree with Democrats that the federal government should outlaw such denials” (Pear and Herszenhorn, 11/3).

Kaiser Health News has a copy of the legislation (Pianin, 11/4).

Roll Call reports that “[p]eople with pre-existing medical conditions would pay up to 50 percent more than average for insurance coverage under” under the Republican plan. According to a draft of the plan released earlier on Tuesday, “states would face a massive, partially funded mandate to subsidize high-risk insurance pools to cover people denied coverage by insurance companies with ‘a stable funding source.’ Those rates would be capped at 50 percent higher than average premiums for standard-risk insurance in a given state” (Dennis, 11/3).

NPRsays the Republicans hope to offer the bill “as an alternative when floor debate begins, possibly by the end of this week” (Rovner, 11/4).

CongressDaily: “House Majority Leader (Steny) Hoyer today criticized the Republican alternative, saying it would not expand insurance availability and provides ‘no guarantees for common-sense reforms Americans want, such as eliminating [denial for] pre-existing conditions.’ Hoyer said the Republican bill would allow health insurers to sell across state lines and ‘very possibly gut consumer protections and encourage a race to the bottom where insurance companies will go to the states that require the least amount of protection and therefore the cheapest policies.’ He said allowing individuals and small businesses to pool together to force insurers to bring costs down ‘will lead to cherry-picking and discrimination against certain Americans'” (Hunt and House, 11/3).

© 2009 MediLexicon International Ltd

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