Calif. Reps Lead the Fight Against Interstate Sales of Health Plans
Twenty-nine California representatives are among the 31 House Democrats calling for congressional leaders to scrap a health care reform proposal that would allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The letter urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to eliminate or modify the provisions in the House and Senate reform bills.
The letter argues that the provisions could threaten consumer protection laws in 17 states by allowing insurers to ignore industry regulations in every state except where their company is based.
For example, if interstate policies became available in California, consumers might lose the ability to appeal coverage denials to panels of outside physicians, according to the Times.
Experts also note that the provisions could weaken state rules requiring insurers to cover breast cancer reconstructive surgery, HIV testing and other services.
Supporters of the provisions argue that interstate insurance sales could curb premium costs, foster greater competition and offer more choices for consumers (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 12/17).
In addition, observers note that the Senate reform bill (HR 3590) includes certain clauses designed to regulate interstate insurance sales. For example, the bill would:
- Require individual states to opt in to interstate compacts;
- Require insurance companies to abide by a set of federal standards; and
- Require insurers to comply with certain regulations of the state where their policyholders reside (Hilzenrath, Washington Post, 12/17).
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who authored the letter, said she would not vote for a health care reform bill unless lawmakers eliminate or amend the interstate insurance sales provisions.Observers say the large number of opponents might prompt congressional leaders to reconsider the provisions (Los Angeles Times, 12/17). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.