More insurance and benefits groups seem to be warming up today to the idea that Congress will enact a health reform bill that they can live with.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., drew the attention of health and benefits groups earlier today by releasing a health reform bill draft that includes many provisions sought by consumer groups, such as a guaranteed-issue provision and a ban on benefits caps, while leaving out any provision that could create a government-run, “public option” health insurance program.
The bill would impose a 35% excise test on “high cost” health plans, and it would cap flexible spending account contributions at $2,000 per year.
At press time, no Republicans had promised to back the bill, and some liberal Democrats were attacking the draft, arguing that the concessions to Republican are too great, especially in light of the lack of Republican support for the draft.
But the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va., has congratulated Baucus on the release of the proposal.
“We share the chairman’s goal of spreading comprehensive health insurance to millions of Americans not now covered,” NAIFA President Thomas Currey says in a statement about the bill. “We are particularly pleased to note that the chairman has opted to move away from a government-run health insurance plan. We believe that in doing so Chairman Baucus recognizes that the chance of actually achieving comprehensive reform this year increases. We pledge NAIFA’s help in crafting a final proposal that will be supported by all Americans.”
Currey notes that, in addition to leaving out a government plan provision, Baucus has left out a long term care insurance provision included in some of the other major health reform proposals.
“In doing so, the chairman’s proposal recognizes that there are better ways to address long-term care needs,” Currey says.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, also has welcomed release of the Baucus draft.
“Senator Max Baucus has led an unprecedented and rigorous bipartisan process to enact health care reform this year and challenged all stakeholders to contribute to this process,” AHIP President Karen Ignagni says. “The introduction of legislation in the Finance Committee is a very important step in the health care reform process.”
This year, “health plans have stepped up and proposed robust insurance market reforms to ensure nobody falls through the cracks and a complete overhaul of administrative processes that will improve efficiency, reduce paperwork, and free up time for doctors to focus on patient care,” Ignagni says. “We also advocated and support a new reinsurance mechanism to assist in the transition to new market rules.
“We are committed to working with policymakers and stakeholders to find savings in the Medicare program, including Medicare Advantage, but it is important to ensure seniors’ health care choices are protected.”
Ignagni has expressed concern about the Baucus co-op proposal, calling it “government-created” and “untested.”