According to a Humana newsletter after a long and sometimes contentious day of debate, at 10:45 p.m. Sunday night the health reform bill passed the House. The vote was 219-212, with all Republicans and 34 Democrats voting no. Since the bill already passed the Senate on Christmas Eve, it will become law as soon as the President signs it – probably in the next two days.
Less than an hour after the House passed the reform bill, it passed a package of fixes in the form of a budget reconciliation bill. That vote was 220-211. The reconciliation bill will now go to the Senate. Senate leaders say they are likely to take it up later this week – perhaps as early as Tuesday. At this point there is no way to know if the process in the Senate will go fast or slow. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he has the votes to move the bill quickly, but the Republicans may challenge whether some parts of it are appropriate for the reconciliation process.
The Senate bill would:
Mandate everyone must get insurance
Result in about 30 million additional people becoming insured
Subsidize coverage for people who can't afford insurance; increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid
Raise money to pay for these things through new fees, taxes and cuts to Medicare Advantage
Change the payment formula for Medicare Advantage
Make many changes in the way insurance companies operate, from saying they have to sell insurance to everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions and health status, to selling insurance to individuals and small businesses through an exchange
Monday, March 22, 2010
According to a newsletter from Aetna Insurance the White House last week continued to rail against rising health insurance premiums to help build popular support for his health care reform package. But the effort to focus the blame for rising costs on insurers was questioned, in particular, by state insurance experts and economists quoted in a New York Times story last week (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/health/policy/09rates.html?scp=1&sq=State%20Insurance%20Experts%20See%20Flaw%20in%20Obama%27s%20Plan%20to%20Curb%20Health%20Premiums&st=cse). Insurance commissioners said that trying to hold down premiums before costs were under control would be very risky. This approach could mean solvency issues in some cases, they told the Times. To help educate Americans about the true drivers of rising health care costs, America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade association, last week launched a new national ad campaign (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O8CxZ1OD58). The ad demonstrates that health insurance company costs represent a small slice of the overall health care cost pie.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
A key focus of the media coverage of the healthcare reform debate was the House leadership's plan to use a legislative rule known as "deem and pass" or a "self executing rule," to pass the Senate bill without an explicit vote on the measure in conjunction with the reconciliation package of "fixes." Most media outlets noted that it has been used in the past by both parties, but not on landmark legislation, and that it has contributed to the growing partisan warfare on the healthcare issue.
Monday, March 8, 2010
According to a newsletter from NAHU the President's new healthcare reform plan will include ideas from Republicans. Some of the president's commentators suggest this is an effective strategic decision for improving his public realtions battle as well as improving the measure's prospects for a House passage. Americans are seen as disillusioned by the lack of agreement on healthcare between both parties. According to the "everyday americans" that were invited to the White House summit on healthcare they blame the Republicans' intransigence as well as the special deals Obama and the Democratic congressional leaders made in order to win votes. According to The Christian Science Monitor (3/3, Feldmann) Obama is not making any major concessions but simply incorporating small ideas from the Rebublicans to help his public realtions battle to show Americans he is working with both sides althought no Republican in the House or Senate was expected to sign onto the Obama plan on the basis of Tuesday's announcement.