Obama Puts Premium Increase Limits In Health Care Plan
The calculated strategy last year of allowing Congress to be at the center of the health care debate can be judged by the results. For the first time in our history each house passed a major bill that in the whole moves the debate, and the needs of the nation down the field to some form of resolution. That is a good thing.
The absence of a bill for the President to sign however is the part that reeks. Getting an ‘A” for effort does not mean much when health care is denied to many, premiums rise faster than smoke out a chimney on a cold morning, and coverage is denied for pre-existing conditions.
It is now the time, despite some who claim otherwise, for President Obama to get fully immersed in the health care debate. Today he did just that by putting his health reform plan on the table.
One of the key proposals gives the US government new power to block health insurers from imposing excessive premium increases.
It is the first time that Mr Obama, who has made healthcare a key priority, has put forward proposals himself.
He will on Thursday hold bipartisan talks at the White House on the issue.
The Republican reaction to Mr Obama’s efforts has so far been critical, with House Republican leader John Boehner saying the proposals took the same approach as that of previous Democratic bills.
“The president has crippled the credibility of this week’s summit [on Thursday] by proposing the same massive government takeover of healthcare based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected,” he said in a prepared statement.
Mr Obama’s proposal “helps over 31 million Americans afford healthcare who do not get it today – and makes coverage more affordable for many more,” the White House said on its website.
It gives the federal Health and Human Services Department – in conjunction with state authorities – the power to deny substantial premium increases, limit them, or demand rebates for consumers.
Mr Obama’s latest plan requires most Americans to carry health insurance coverage, with federal subsidies to help many afford the premiums.
It bars insurance companies from denying coverage to people with existing medical problems or charging them more.
A tax on high-cost health insurance plans objected to by House Democrats – and trade unions – is to be scaled back.
Mr Obama says reform of the healthcare system is crucial for the US economy to rein in costs over the long term.
The plan would put “our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100bn [£64.5bn] over the next 10 years – and more than $1tn [£644bn] over the second decade – by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse”, he said.