Obama Posts ‘The President’s Bill’ for Healthcare Reform
February 22, 2010
(ChattahBox)—–President Obama made good on his promise, in advance of a much anticipated televised showdown between Republicans and Democrats, and posted his version of healthcare reform on the White House Web site Monday morning. The so-called “president’s bill” is a merging of Obama’s ideas and portions of the health reform bills already passed in the House and Senate, but the bill was not crafted in negotiations between Democratic Congressional lawmakers. One provision that has been garnering attention in light of Anthem’s recent 39 percent insurance hikes; is a proposal to create a federal oversight panel with the power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies.
The New York Times noted that Obama is hoping to capitalize on recently publizied price gouging by insurance companies to demonstrate to the American public why healthcare reform is so desparately needed:
“By focusing on the effort to tighten regulation of insurance costs, a new element not included in either the House or Senate bills, Mr. Obama is seizing on outrage over recent premium increases of up to 39 percent announced by Anthem Blue Cross of California and moving to portray the Democrats’ health overhaul as a way to protect Americans from profiteering insurers.”
And Obama’s new proposal to curb excessive health insurance costs would put Republicans in the unenviable position of supporting cost increases for consumers:
“Congressional Republicans have long denounced the Democrats’ legislation as a “government takeover” of health care. And while they are likely to resist any expansion of federal authority over existing state regulators, they will face a tough balancing act at the meeting with the president to avoid appearing as if they are willing to allow steep premium increases like those by Anthem.”
President Obama’s bill also closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole,” but does not include a public option. Greg Sargnet’s The Plum Line breaks down Obama’s bill:
“*As expected, the plan has no public option — but this does not preclude a reconciliation vote on the public option later.
*The proposal boosts the threshold for the “Cadillac” tax on the most expensive health plans from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500. That’s actually a better deal than some labor officials were expecting, though some House Dems will still be angry that the tax is being included at all.
*The proposal also preserves the Senate bill’s state-based exchanges, and does not have a national exchange, as the House bill did.
*However, House Dems will be cheered by the fact that Obama’s compromise closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap.
*Also, the bill nixes Ben Nelson’s Nebraska deal and boosts Federal financing for Medicaid expansion in all states.
*And finally, as expected, Obama’s proposal creates a Federal panel to monitor and block exorbitant rate hikes and other unfair practices by the insurance industry.”
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer made clear to reporters, that if Republicans filibuster the passage of the healthcare reform bill in the Senate, lawmakers are prepared to pass portions of it by obtaining a majority vote under the reconciliation process.
The televised healthcare summit is scheduled for Thursday. Although the Republican caucus has not officially confirmed they would be attending, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he would be there.
Photo Source: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza