The Real Death Panels Are In The House Of Rep.


WENDELL POTTER: Because of my nearly 20 years of experience as an executive of two large insurance firms, I was asked to provide my perspective on the legislation at a hearing today of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. One of the bills would eliminate a provision of the reform law that requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of what we pay in premiums on actual medical care. The insurance industry tried without success to keep that provision out of the final bill, so they are solidly behind the effort to do away with it. As I am explaining to the lawmakers, there is a single-minded focus among the big for-profit insurers on being able to show Wall Street and investors two things every three months: that the companies made more money during the most recent three months than during the same period a year earlier, and that the portion of each policyholder’s premium devoted to covering medical expenses was less than it was the previous year. […] Another bill favored by insurers and sponsored by Republicans is similarly misguided. It would deny the Department of Health and Human Services the ability to enforce insurance reforms in regard to current plans, taking away important consumer protections. Among them: the prohibition on lifetime limits and the ban on rescissions — a practice that lets insurers take away your coverage mid-year, usually after you’ve gotten sick. That bill would also prohibit enforcement of the rule that allows young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. This week’s Census figures show that this provision has already helped 500,000 young people get insurance. Why would Congress vote to take away their coverage? Because of the GOP’s majority, there is a better-than-even chance that the House will pass these industry-friendly, anti-consumer bills. Our best hope is that the Senate will reject them, just as it did the earlier attempt to repeal the reform law entirely. MORE

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