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March 17, 2005

House Committee Votes to Gut State Health Regulations

Following up on my previous post on H.R. 525, the bill to exempt small business health plans from state insurance regulations, the House Education and Workforce Committee voted 25-22 on a party-line vote to approve the legislation, fending off amendments by Democrats to require such plans to AHPs to offer coverage for a variety of medical conditions and preventive care, such as contraceptives, autism, diabetes, and pregnancy, childbirth and well-child care. (Source: BNA Labor Report)

Instead, the GOP majority voted to leave health plans free to discriminate against coverage for those conditions, and even fended off an amendment, brought by Republican Charlie Norwood of Georgia, that would prevent such plans from charging higher premiums based on past health history. So health plans will be free to accept only the healthiest patients and leave sick people without access to any insurance, good for insurance profits but terrible for those workers and for taxpayers who are likely to see those costs showing up at public hospitals eventually.

The House may have crafted a bill so extreme that Senate moderates won't accept it and, hopefully, derail the whole thing. But make no mistake, this bill is one of the nastiest attacks on health care for working Americans coming out of Congress.

Posted by Nathan at March 17, 2005 09:23 AM