Health Reform Summary - February 8, 2010
Republished From: Healthcare Broker Portal
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February 8, 2010
Weekly Health Reform Briefing Summary
Lockton Benefit Group prepares this weekly Health Reform Briefing Summary to keep you apprised about the unfolding health reform effort in Washington, D.C.
Last Week's Events
Democrats made no discernable progress in advancing comprehensive health reform legislation. On Sunday, the President announced a bipartisan health reform summit with Congressional leaders on February 25. The President indicated that the half-day summit will be televised live from the White House.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) continued to meet behind closed doors to determine how best to advance comprehensive health reform. Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the House won't vote on the Senate bill as is. Reports indicate that Speaker Pelosi wants the Senate to pass a corrections bill by reconciliation. This would allow the Senate to pass a bill with a simple majority vote. After the fix, the House would then consider the Senate measure.
However, Senate staff is unsure whether reconciliation can be used for a bill that has not yet become law. President Obama has not yet weighed in on the issue, but reports indicate that he is in favor of the House passing the Senate bill with a reconciliation fix.
Beginning this week, the House will consider a bill that would strip health and medical malpractice insurance companies of their antitrust exemption. With comprehensive reform stalled, the House will consider a series of smaller, free-standing bills, such as mandated medical loss ratios for insurers and guaranteed renewability of individual policies. On a related note, over one hundred House Democrats sent a letter to Senator Reid urging the Senate to take up the public insurance option through reconciliation.
The Senate will spend most of this week considering a new bill focused on job creation. Senator Reid is trying to fashion a bipartisan bill that would provide tax credits for companies that hire new workers. The legislation could include an extension of the COBRA subsidy for involuntary terminations through June 30, 2010.
In a direct challenge to Congressional Democrats, the Virginia Senate passed a bill that would make it illegal to require that Virginia residents purchase health insurance. The bill is expected to be approved by the Virginia House of Delegates. Governor Robert McDonnell (R) has indicated that he supports the intent of the bill.
A report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicates that the federal government will pay for more than half of all U.S. health care spending by 2012. In 2009, health care spending represented 17.3% of the U.S. economy, a 1.1% increase from the prior year.