WASHINGTON BUREAU — The Senate Finance Committee has rejected amendments that could have created a government-run health insurance system, and it has accepted an amendment that could let agents participate in a proposed health “exchange” system.
Members voted 10-13 against a “public option” amendment proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and by an 8-15 margin against a public option amendment proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Baucus and Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., joined all Republicans on the committee in voting against both public option amendments.
The Senate Finance Committee is considering and revising the America’s Healthy Future Act bill, a “chairman’s mark” developed under the direction of Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D- Mont.
“We are pleased by the rejection of both the Rockefeller and the Schumer amendments containing public plan options,” says Tom Currey, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va. “But, we will continue our educational efforts. There are currently three other reform proposals with government-run options, and lawmakers need to understand the negative consequences. A strong private health insurance system is best equipped to provide options for families and businesses.”
America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, is also welcoming committee rejection of the amendments.
“The government-run plan is a roadblock to reform,” AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach says. “A new government-run plan would dismantle employer coverage, bankrupt hospitals, and add to the federal deficit. The same goals can be accomplished by enacting an overhaul of the market rules and new consumer protections so that nobody falls through the cracks of our health care system.”
AHIP members already have agreed to sell coverage on a guaranteed-issue basis and to eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions, if the government will discourage adverse selection by requiring individuals to have health coverage, Zirkelbach says.