Stakeholders Target Opposition, Keep Up Support for Reform
Several interest groups are launching campaigns attacking provisions they oppose in the Senate and House health overhaul bills, but the groups are maintaining their general support for reform efforts, the Washington Times reports (Miller, Washington Times, 10/14).
America's Health Insurance Plans has ramped up its criticism of Senate health reform legislation, after months of stating its general support for reform efforts, Roll Call reports (Palmer, Roll Call, 10/14).
Until recently, the group had worked with the Senate Finance Committee on its bill, but its support lessened in reaction to the committee's lowering the penalties for U.S. residents who do not comply with a requirement to have health insurance.
The insurance industry says there must be a strong incentive for consumers to purchase coverage and expand the insurance pool, particularly because health reform legislation would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions (Johnson, Wall Street Journal, 10/14).
On Sunday, AHIP released a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers saying that under the Senate Finance Committee proposal, insurance premiums would rise by $4,000 by 2019 for the average U.S. family.
On Monday, AHIP started a $1 million television ad campaign in several key states that warns Medicare beneficiaries about potential cuts to Medicare Advantage plans (Washington Times, 10/14). The group also is planning to run ads citing findings from the PwC report (Wall Street Journal, 10/14).
In addition, several health insurance companies have hired outside lobbying groups to hold one-on-one meetings with senators to discuss other provisions they oppose (Roll Call, 10/14).
Medical Device Industry
The medical device industry is actively lobbying lawmakers and administration officials to eliminate a provision in the Senate Finance Committee bill that would charge the industry $40 billion in fees over a decade, CQ HealthBeat reports (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 10/13).
Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, said, "This is a really devastating proposal for a large number of our membership," adding that it is "bad for patients, bad for jobs, and bad for research and development" (Musgrove, Washington Post, 10/14).
Michael Mussallem, chair and CEO of Edwards Lifesciences and board chair of AdvaMed, did not indicate how much the industry might be willing to pay in fees under the overhaul legislation (CQ HealthBeat, 10/13).
Officials with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America say they are actively lobbying key senators to keep a measure out of the final health reform bill that would extend the same rebates under Medicaid to drug coverage for those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (Washington Times, 10/14).
Before the Medicare prescription drug benefit took effect, drug costs for dual eligibles were covered under Medicaid and were available to the government at reduced rates. Dual eligibles' prescription drugs are now covered under Medicare, which does not receive the same discounts as Medicaid (California Healthline, 8/26).
According to the Times, PhRMA is considering radio, TV and print ads that promote findings that applying the same Medicaid rebates to dual eligibles would lead to premium increases of as much as 50% for Medicare beneficiaries and result in losses of up to 100,000 jobs in pharmaceutical companies (Washington Times, 10/14).
On Wednesday, a group of 30 labor unions is running a full-page newspaper advertisement opposing the Senate Finance Committee health reform bill because of a provision that would impose a tax on high-cost "Cadillac" plans, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Babington, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/14).
Chuck Loveless, legislative director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, called the Senate Finance bill "deeply flawed," adding, "Our feeling is that unless we speak out now, the basic structure of the Finance bill could very well be the bill that goes to the floor" of the Senate.Unions also are advocating for a public health insurance option to be included in the final Senate legislation (Hunt, CongressDaily, 10/14). 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.