Friday, October 15, 2010

Finally Friday -- Morning News

There are several accounts of the court ruling that came down yesterday stating that the health reform challenge can go forward on the issues of the individual mandate (requiring that everybody buy insurance) and Medicaid expansion. Here's the NY Times. Here's WaPo. Here's the Wall St. Journal. Here's Politico. The ruling was not a decision on the merits of the legal challenge; it's just about jurisdiction and procedure, although the judge certainly sounds skeptical about the legality of Congress requiring people to buy insurance. This contradicts a ruling in Michigan last week. There will be a split of the courts on this, and it will go to the Supreme Court, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urges states to push insurers into offering child-only policies despite the elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions. She says insurers have reneged on a previous commitment. So although she can't force them to offer these policies, she urges states to put pressure on insurers, as she is doing as well.

Finally, in Connecticut, Anthem is raising rates as much as 47%. The insurance Commissioner blames this on health reform, but there is no indication whatsoever that the provisions of health reform that have kicked in really cost anywhere near this much. And we know Anthem has been raising rates hugely each year for the last 5 years, at least -- our policy has gone from $440 per month in 2005 to $1165 per month today -- and health reform had nothing to do with that. The mandate to cover kids to age 26 existed in Connecticut before reform. Coverage of kids' pre-existing conditions already existed in group plans. In short, the changes so far have been modest, and Kathleen Sebelius has already criticized many insurers on a national basis for falsely stating that reform is the reason for rate increases this year. But the law leaves a lot in the hands of state Insurance Departments. And as long as we have an insurance Commissioner who's opposed to reform and refuses to crack down on these crazy rates, this will continue to happen.

And that's my morning news round-up. Have a great day! Jennifer

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