President Obama released his proposed health care reform proposal on Monday, despite Republican demands to scrap the whole thing and start over with Thursday’s “bi-partisan” health care reform summit.
The White House frames its plan as an opening bid for the summit and sticks fairly closely to the Senate bill, but eliminating the sweetheart deals with individual states and easing the tax burden on high-end (cadillac) health plans.
Key provisions include:
- Providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today, helping over 31 million Americans afford health care who do not get it today – and makes coverage more affordable for many more.
- Setting up a new competitive health insurance market giving tens of millions of Americans the exact same insurance choices that members of Congress will have.
- Bringing greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.
- Ending discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
- Reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years – and about $1 trillion over the second decade – by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.
- Eliminating the Nebraska FMAP provision and providing significant additional Federal financing to all States for the expansion of Medicaid.
- Closing the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap.
- The threshold for the excise tax on the most expensive health plans will be raised from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500 and will start in 2018 for all such plans.
- Improving insurance protections for consumers and creating a new Health Insurance Rate Authority to review and rein in unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.
There is nothing particularly surprising here. Certainly, targeting insurers with a Health Insurance Rate Authority is warranted, given the recent uproar over a 39 percent rate increase on individual plans in California and some other states.
Absent from the President’s proposal was the public option that he has supported in the past, while the individual mandate remains. He has challenged Republicans to bring their own ideas to the table for Thursday’s “bi-partisan” summit.
As for this “bi-partisan” summit, I’ll believe it when I see it. Every conciliatory measure taken in an effort to win Republican support has been met with failure, from single-payer to public option to reining in insurers. Within minutes of the White House plan being posted online, the familiar battle cry of “massive government takeover” began. It’s all too predictable.
The summit may well prove to be just another round of partisan showmanship in a winner-take-all bout. Then again, there’s always reconciliation.
The sad truth is that whatever health care reform might come to pass in the near future will fall woefully short. We will still have Americans going bankrupt or dying for lack of access to health care, and we will be forced to fight this fight all over again. Unless, of course, Washington can break the gridlock and put the country ahead of politics.
You can read the President’s 11-page proposal in its entirety at: whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting/proposal
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