Insurers Lobbying on the Fine Print May Erase Consumer Protections

One of the provisions of the health reform law that insurers hate most requires that they spend at least 80 percent of what we pay them in premiums for actual medical care. That provision alone is a major reason why insurance companies and their allies invested so heavily in Republican candidates last year.

The insurers knew that if their candidates won—and most of them did—they would have a better than even chance of getting Congress to weaken that provision to …

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A Canadian-Style Single-Payer Health System in Vermont?

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Chances are you’ve never heard of Peter Shumlin, who last month was sworn in as the 81st governor or Vermont. That’s about to change. If Shumlin makes good on a signature campaign promise, he might end up as well-known and beloved in the United States as Tommy Douglas is in Canada.

OK, maybe you’ve never heard of Tommy Douglas, either. A former Baptist preacher and member of the Canadian parliament, Douglas is considered the father of Canada’s …

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N.C. Consumer Advocates Seeing Red Over Bait and Switch by One of the Blues

RALEIGH, N.C. — Health insurers are demonstrating once again — this time in state capitals — that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing for consumers when health care reform is up for debate.

President Obama and Congressional leaders learned the hard way that insurance executives were playing them like a Stradivarius in promising to be good-faith partners on reform. In the end, though, the politicians realized that insurers had been carrying out a duplicitous PR strategy from …

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An Illuminating Expedition to the World of the Uninsured

As Congressional Republicans seek ways to starve the new health care reform law of necessary funding — and Democrats try to keep that from happening — it’s easy to lose sight of the reasons why reform was pursued in the first place.

For a reminder, lawmakers might want to spend a few hours in Nashville this weekend. I’m betting they would behave differently when they got back to Washington on Monday.

If they arrived in Nashville by Friday afternoon, those …

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Insurers’ ‘Friends’ Will Influence Public Option Debate in Connecticut

As I noted Friday, health insurers in Connecticut will call on some of their longtime allies to help turn the public and state lawmakers against the idea of creating a state-run public option.

Legislators in Hartford are taking up the idea of doing just that today, as three legislative committees hold a joint public hearing on SustiNet, which they actually created in theory but didn’t fund in 2009. If implemented, SustiNet would provide a health care benefits package starting in …

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Fear and Loathing Over a Public Insurance Option in Hartford

This coming Monday morning, state lawmakers in Hartford, the nation’s insurance capital, will begin debate on implementing something insurers pulled out all the stops to kill at the national level — the so-called public option that would have created a government insurance program to compete with private carriers.

The setting has more than a bit of irony, since it was Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman whose opposition to the public option effectively assured it would not be part of the health …

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The Insurers’ Real Agenda for Change

The media had lots of health care news to obsess about last week. A federal judge ruled the health care reform law unconstitutional, and Senate Republicans tried in vain to repeal the law. But most of the press paid virtually no attention to a potentially much more important development — a multi-pronged effort by five major insurers to strip from the law key regulations and consumer protections that aren’t to their liking.

The insurers do not want the bill repealed …

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Obama’s View: Not A Lot Left to Debate in Health Care Law

By devoting just two minutes to health care reform in his State of the Union address — and not mentioning it until half way through the remarks — President Obama was signaling Americans that he believes the reform debate is over, that Republicans would be wasting precious time by “refighting the battles of the last two years.”

While noting that “anything can be improved” and that he would welcome ideas to improve the bill he signed into law last March, …

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