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As Health Reform Summit Looms, Battle Lines Are Drawn
Date:2/25/2010

care stops paying for prescriptions after the plan and beneficiary have spent $2,830 on prescription drugs and starts paying again only after out-of-pocket spending hits $4,550.

The plan also would retain a tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance policies but would delay its implementation until 2018 -- and then only under a higher threshold, $27,500 for family plans.

Obama's proposal also would provide additional funding to states to expand their Medicaid rolls and would do away with the controversial deal granted to Nebraska that would have had the federal government paying the full cost for that state's new Medicaid enrollees.

There would be no government-run plan -- the so-called public option -- nor would employers be required to provide insurance. However, businesses with 50 or more employees whose workers need public subsidies to buy insurance on their own would pay assessments for not doing so.

Republicans have been vocal in their opposition of wholesale reform, with some charging that the reforms are too expensive and too bureaucratic. Devon Herrick, a health economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas, said that a dramatically scaled back reform effort -- such as a uniform tax credit that could be used for purchasing insurance, the ability to buy insurance across state lines and insurance portability, or the ability to maintain health insurance after leaving a job -- would better serve the nation.

"If the president's proposal were to become law, it could substantially restrict the type of health plans Americans would have access to," Herrick said.

Many organizations disagree. The American Nurses Association, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Consumers Union, Families USA and Service Employees Union International, among others, sent a letter to congressional leaders urging the enactment of "meaningful health-care reform."

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