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Obama's Proposal for Health Reform; No New Malpractice Ideas

You’re going to hear a lot this week about health reform as President Obama today released his plan in preparation for Thursday’s televised bi-partisan meeting, which is the administration’s effort to get reform back on track.  There’s not much new in Obama’s version of a bill, much of which takes proposals from the House version’s column A and combines it with the Senate’s column B.  Most of the ideas are centered around reeling in the insurance industry and paying for an additional 30 million or so uninsured.  There’s no mention of new tort reform initiatives.

Regarding tort reform, the President lists the following among Republican ideas passed by Congress: “Advances medical liability reform through grants to States:  Provides grants to States to jump-start and evaluate promising medical liability reform ideas to put patient safety first, prevent medical errors, and reduce liability premiums.”  Keep in mind that “passed by Congress” does not mean it has yet been signed into law.  You may recall the idea is to offer states to apply for grants to study the concept of tort reform.  The grant total proposed for all states combined is $25 million, which, in the grand scheme of health care reform, is equivalent to about a dime.

Click here for the full listing of President Obama’s ideas.  Here’s an overview of what’s new:

The President’s Proposal puts American families and small business owners in control of their own health care.

  • It makes insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today.  This helps over 31 million Americans afford health care who do not get it today – and makes coverage more affordable for many more.
  • It sets up a new competitive health insurance market giving tens of millions of Americans the exact same insurance choices that members of Congress will have.
  • It brings greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.
  • It will end discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • It puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years – and about $1 trillion over the second decade – by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.

The President’s Proposal bridges the gap between the House and Senate bills and includes new provisions to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse.

It includes a targeted set of changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate-passed health insurance reform bill.  The President’s Proposal reflects policies from the House-passed bill and the President’s priorities.  Key changes include:

  • Eliminating the Nebraska FMAP provision and providing significant additional Federal financing to all States for the expansion of Medicaid;
  • Closing the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap;
  • Strengthening the Senate bill’s provisions that make insurance affordable for individuals and families;
  • Strengthening the provisions to fight fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid;
  • Increasing the threshold for the excise tax on the most expensive health plans from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500 and starting it in 2018 for all plans;
  • Improving insurance protections for consumers and creating a new Health Insurance Rate Authority to provide Federal assistance and oversight to States in conducting reviews of unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.

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