Saturday, December 12, 2009

Put Me On An Ice Floe Now

This defeats the entire reason to have insurance - no one wants to get financially wiped out by a medical crisis. Have these people completely lost their minds?

From The Plum Line:

The internet is buzzing today with the news that Harry Reid quietly inserted a loophole in the Senate health care bill that would let insurance companies put limits on medical care for folks struggling with costly illnesses — angering patient advocates, and in apparent violation of a promise made by Obama this fall.

But in an email to me, Reid’s spokesperson defended the move, arguing it was necessary to hold down premiums.

The news started making the rounds this morning after the Associated Press reported that a “tweak” to the Senate bill had been made, weakening a provision originally banning such limits. Advocates for patients protested that such a ban is a key consumer protection.

The current bill would allow insurance companies to place annual limits on the dollar value of medical care — provided those limits are not “unreasonable,” a term the legislation doesn’t define.

This seems at odds with Obama’s impassioned rhetoric on the issue. As Jane Hamsher notes, Obama vowed in August to stop insurance companies from placing “some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime,” because “no one should go broke because they get sick.”

Asked for comment, Reid spokesman Jim Manley justified the shift in an email:

“We are concerned that banning all annual limits, regardless of whether services are voluntary, could lead to higher premiums. We continue to work with experts on how best to accomplish our goals of preventing insurance companies from imposing arbitrary coverage limits while providing the premium relief American families need and deserve.”

Given Obama’s previous tough talk on the issue, the shift could create a bit of a headache for the White House, and it seems unlikely that such a politically sensitive move would have been made without tacit or overt White House approval. More when I learn it.

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