Members of the Senate Finance Committee may have watered down the individual health insurance purchase mandate in their version of the health reform bill.
The committe is continuing to revise, or “mark up,” a modified version of the America’s Healthy Future Act bill, a health reform proposal developed under the direction of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.
One principle backed by both President Obama and America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, is that the health reform bill should include a requirement that health plans accept applicants with preexisting conditions, without charging them higher prices because of their health status, along with a requirement that individuals have health coverage, to protect health plans against the risk of antiselection.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, today proposed an amendment to the AHFA bill that would let states opt out of the individual health insurance ownership mandate and switch to other arrangements approved by state insurance commissioners as actuarially sound.
Alternatives to a health insurance plans could include reinsurance programs or “other policies that we haven’t thought of yet,” Grassley, the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said. “It’s a mistake to think that Washington has all the answers.”
Grassley said he proposed the amendment because he decided during the Senate’s August recess that imposing an individual health coverage mandate would create new problems.
“There is of course a principle of personal responsibility,” Grassley said. “We all one way or another pay for the health care for the uninsured. A mandate helps stabilize premiums, mostly by requiring younger people to buy insurance.”
Moreover, “it’s easy to see why the health insurers want the mandate,” he said. “It’s going to make them a heckuva lot of money.”