House Republicans Roll Out Alternative to Democratic Reform Plan
It includes many policy proposals that Republicans have been pushing for years (O'Brien/Romm, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/3).Â The New York Times reports that the bill "has no chance of passing."
In the opening section, the legislation asserts that it would lower health care costs and expand 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."
The House Republican bill would:
- Make it easier for insurers to sell coverage across states;
- Allow small businesses to ban together and increase their purchasing power through "association health plans" that would be sponsored by trade and professional associations and chambers of commerce;
- Offer $50 billion in federal "incentive payments" over the next decade to states that reduce the cost of insurance or the percentage of uninsured residents (Pear/Herszenhorn, New York Times, 11/4);
- Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits at $250,000 (Dennis, Roll Call, 11/3); and
- Increase incentives for people to use health savings accounts (Werner, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/3).
Under the GOP health care plan, states would be required to subsidize high-risk insurance pools to cover people denied coverage by private insurance. States would be required to come up with a "stable funding source" for the pools.
Premiums paid by people with pre-existing conditions could only be 50% higher than average premiums for standard insurance in a state. States would be offered $15 billion over 10 years to help pay for the high-risk pools, which would exclude undocumented immigrants (Dennis, Roll Call, 11/3).
In addition, like the Democrats' bill, the GOP legislation would extend the time young adults could stay on their parents' health plan. The Republican bill extends coverage to age 24, while the Democrats' bill would allow children to remain on their parents' plan until age 26.
Also similar to the Democrats' bill, GOP legislation would ban insurers from imposing annual or lifetime caps on spending for covered benefits.
It also would prohibit insurance rescission unless insurers can prove that a patient intentionally hid "material facts" about a medical condition (New York Times, 11/4).
Unlike the House Democrats' bill, the GOP legislation does not include coverage mandates for individuals and employers, a public health insurance plan or a ban on insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions (Rhee, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 11/3).The GOP bill also would not expand Medicaid, impose new taxes, or provide subsidies to low- and middle-income U.S. residents to help them purchase coverage (New York Times, 11/4). 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.