Health Reform Headlines: Administration Lays Groundwork for Health Care Fight
President Obama said he’s open to efforts to “tweak” the new health care law, but said he was “not willing to just refight the battles of the last two years.”
In a speech to Families USA, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, he said the country can’t go back to the days when insurance companies could deny, cap or limit coverage:
“I’m willing to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, to make care better or to make their health care more affordable. I’ve even suggested we begin by correcting what was a legitimate concern, a flaw in the legislation that placed unnecessary bookkeeping burdens on small businesses. I’m open to other ideas, such as patient-safety innovations and medical malpractice reform. But here’s what I’m not open to…I am not willing to just refight the battles of the last two years. I’m not open to efforts that will take this law apart without considering the lives and the livelihoods that hang in the balance…We are moving forward.”
The report…argues that individuals and families purchasing coverage through the exchanges in 2014 will save 14-20 percent over what coverage would cost them if the law had never been enacted. These savings come from market reforms and regulations-it does not include the tax credits that will effectively reduce premiums for some individuals by more than half…
The reports claims are likely to be challenged by Republican opponents of health care reform. The report is based on projections contained in a November 30, 2009 analysis of the ACA.
Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, released a statement Friday that disputed the claim. “The new law will expand coverage to millions of Americans, but fails to address the health care cost crisis,” she said. “The document released today overstates the cost savings associated with certain provisions of the new law and ignores major provisions that will raise premiums…While tax credits are important to help people pay for coverage, tax credits do not bring down the growth of medical costs or reduce health insurance premiums.”
There are new questions raised about a HHS report out last week. Ahead of the House vote to repeal the health care vote, HHS reported as many as 129 million Americans – half of those under age 65 – could be denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing medical conditions.
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press writes:
The new estimate by the Health and Human Services Department is more than twice as high as a figure that supporters of the law were using last year.
It just might need an asterisk.
Most of those millions of people are covered by health insurance at work and don’t face any immediate risk of being denied care for their pre-existing medical problems. And as a rule, those who take a new job and sign up in their employer’s health plan are already protected by a 1990s law
Johanns’s 1099 Repeal Has 60 Co-Sponsors
Support for repealing that 1099 provision — the mandate requires that small businesses file a 1099 IRS form for every transaction over $600 — gained support this week.
According to Politico’s PULSE:
Sen. Mike Johanns’s bill to repeal the 1099s has 60 cosponsors, including 15 Dems.
That’s a pretty strong indication for bipartisan support,” he told PULSE on Thursday evening. “Now I’m anxious to find the right vehicle to get it passed and get it done.” What’s changed? “The president has now mentioned it on a number of occasions that it just makes sense to get rid of this requirement. That’s helpful, no question about it.
Both Republicans and Democrats have favored repeal of the mandate because it burdens small businesses with increased paperwork and costs.
A ruling in the 26-state lawsuit could come as soon as Monday.
And the separate lawsuit filed in Virginia will be expedited. According to the New York Times:
A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., announced Wednesday that it would expedite its consideration of a lower court ruling against a key provision of the Obama health care act. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said it would hear arguments between May 10 and May 13 in the Obama administrations appeal of a ruling last month by Judge Howard E. Hudson of Federal District Court in Richmond. Judge Hudson ruled that Congress had exceeded the boundaries of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution by requiring citizens to obtain commercial insurance.
Donald Berwick Renominated To Head CMS
President Barack Obama renominated Donald M. Berwick this week to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, six months after bypassing the Senate and granting a recess appointment. Berwick was initially nominated last April, and after the recess appointment, could serve through this year without Senate confirmation.
The Washington Post reports:
Berwick has wide support in the medical community but some Democrats had feared Republicans would use his confirmation hearings as an opportunity to reopen the divisive health care debate. Republicans have raised concerns about Berwick’s views on rationing care and other issues.