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Health Reform Summit Seems to Be Falling Short of Goal
Date:2/25/2010

y and gave Republicans enough votes to block most legislation.

Democratic lawmakers have been trying to decide whether to try to push through legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate by using the budget reconciliation process, which prohibits the use of a filibuster.

Health reform legislation would be enacted through a two-step process. First, the House would pass the Senate bill and send it to the president for his signature. Then, an additional bill would be passed by the Senate and House through the reconciliation process that would modify the Senate bill so that it reflects the changes proposed by the president.

With that scenario as a backdrop, Obama sought to recapture the debate by posting his own health-care bill on the White House Web site this week. The plan, which would cost just under $1 trillion over the next decade, would expand health insurance to 31 million uninsured Americans, reduce the federal budget deficit by $100 billion in the next 10 years and take steps to rein in soaring medical costs, according to the proposal.

The plan is similar to the Senate bill, including mandates that everyone buy insurance, prohibitions that keep insurers from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions and the creation of health insurance exchanges to foster competition.

There are, however, some notable new elements, including a proposal to give the federal government and state insurance regulators the ability to reject "unreasonable and unjustified" premium increases. The timing might be right for such a measure, Pollack said.

News reports last week revealed that Anthem Blue Cross, California's largest insurer, was hiking premiums by up to 39 percent on individual health insurance plans. The insurer said it was forced to do so because the economy was prompting many younger, healthier participants to drop their coverage, leaving them with too many older, sicker participants on
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