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The 'Big 3' Fixes for the Weakened Senate Health Reform Bill to Block Full Insurance Co. Take-Over of Health System
Date:12/15/2009

ndustry of the last twenty years," said Flanagan. "If health reform is going to be worth anything to consumers, Senators must fight back on these three points. Without them, health reform is little more than a scheme for health insurers to increase profits at the expense of patients and taxpayers."

The three changes that the U.S. Senate must make to HR 3590 are:

1. Remove Provisions that Would Pre-empt More Protective State Laws

For 60 years, states have been responsible for the oversight of health insurance. States have traditionally been the laboratories of innovation in health care and insurance reform. States also have a greater ability to respond quickly to local needs.

However, provisions in the current bill could replace hard-fought "Patients Bill of Rights" laws with new, weaker federal protections.

For example, section 1333 on page 219 of the Senate bill allow health insurers to avoid strong state patient protection laws under so-called "nationwide plans" and multistate "compacts." Under these provisions, health insurers that sell policies in more than one state would only be regulated by the state where the policy was "written or issued." Therefore, if an insurer "issues" all of its policies from Wyoming, then the laws of Wyoming would control policies sold to consumers in states with more protective laws like California, New York, Texas or Virginia.

Insurers would certainly elect to issue their policies from the states with the weakest laws. As a result, new federal minimum coverage requirements would become the norm. Coverage of AIDS/HIV testing, reconstructive surgery, home health care services, and child delivery and mastectomy minimum hospital stays, for instance, would likely be lost.

The Senate health reform bill should be modeled on existing federal health care laws, which provide for a federal-state partnership rather than federal pre-emption of more protect
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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