White House Releases New ‘Patient’s Bill of Rights’ on Insurance
On Tuesday, the White House released health regulations under the new health reform law, which the Obama administration has dubbed the "Patient's Bill of Rights," following the president's meeting with insurers and insurance commissioners, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Obama said the regulations "will put an end to some of the worst practices in the insurance industry and put in place the strongest consumer protections in our history."
- Prohibit insurance exclusions for children under the age of 19 due to pre-existing conditions;
- Prohibit coverage recessions except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of facts;
- Prohibit lifetime limits on coverage renewed or issued on or after September 23 (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/22);
- Mandate that annual spending limits for health plans cannot be below $750,000 for plans issued or renewed starting September 23, $1.25 million in 2011 and $2 million in 2012 (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 6/22);
- Allow health plan members to select any available participating primary care provider; and
- Eliminate higher insurance costs for co-payments or co-insurance for emergency department services obtained out of a network.
The Obama administration said the new regulations should have only a limited effect on insurance premiums ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/22).
Republicans characterized Tuesday's announcement as a public relations effort intended to build support for the overhaul.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, "This shouldn't be called a health care bill of rights, but a bill of goods that the American people aren't buying. There isn't enough slick advertising, politically crafted events or artful sales pitches that will change that" (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/22).
Meeting With Insurers
At the earlier meeting with 13 insurance executives and six state insurance commissioners, Obama warned insurers not to significantly increase premiums now in anticipation of tighter regulations under the new reform law, Politico reports (Kliff/Haberkorn, Politico, 6/22).
Following the meeting, Obama said, "There are genuine cost drivers that are not caused by insurance companies," adding, "But what is also true is that we've got to make sure that this new law is not being used as an excuse to simply drive up costs" (Sack/Stolberg, New York Times, 6/22)
Â He also said that the health reform law "is not meant to punish insurance companies," noting that it will bring them millions of new customers (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/22).
America's Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Karen Ignagni, who attended the meeting, said that insurers had the opportunity "to give very tangible examples of what they're doing to reduce costs," but that some premium increases come as a result of rising health care costs.
Jane Cline, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said that Obama acknowledged Ignagni's point, adding that the president "recognizes that not all of the costs are within the control of the insurers" (Politico, 6/22).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.