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Obama warns insurers not to use reform to boost rates; unveils patient bill of rights

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Health care reform

Obama warns insurers not to use reform to boost rates; unveils patient bill of rights

Reuters: Today, during an address in the East Room of the White House following a meeting with executives of leading health insurance companies and state insurance commissioners, "President Barack Obama warned insurance firms … not to use his healthcare overhaul as an opportunity to enact big rate increases and said the federal government would work with states to monitor them."

"'Insurance companies ... shouldn't see it as an opportunity to enact unjustifiable rate increases,' Obama said …" He also "said companies must publicly justify any rate increases on both the federal health Web site and their own sites, adding that there are 'genuine cost drivers that are not caused by insurance companies'" (Zengerle and Lambert, 6/22).

The New York Times: "Obama convened the White House session [which marked] the 90th day (Tuesday was actually the 91st) since he signed the health bill into law. He also used the occasion to unveil what his administration is calling 'a new Patient's Bill of Rights' — a set of regulations governing how the industry implements some of the most consumer-friendly provisions of the health care bill" (Sack and Stolberg, 6/22).

The Hill: The White House "released a five-page fact sheet (.pdf) on new healthcare reform regulations issued today by the departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor. The regulations concern annual and lifetime limits on benefits, rescissions and pre-existing conditions for children."

"'For most plans starting on or after September 23, these rules stop insurance companies from imposing pre-existing condition exclusions on your children; prohibit insurers from rescinding or taking away your coverage based on an unintentional mistake on an application; ban insurers from setting lifetime limits on your coverage; and restrict their use of annual limits on coverage,' the fact sheet states" (Pecquet, 6/22).

The Associated Press: Additional consumer safeguards include "[g]uaranteed choice of primary care doctors and pediatricians from a plan's network" with"no referral needed for women to see an ob-gyn specialist" and "[n]o prior approval needed to seek emergency care out-of-network. … The new rules apply to most health plans, except in cases where they are 'grandfathered' under the law" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/22).

USA Today: During the East Room ceremony, "Obama also invoked the politics of health care, all but daring Republicans to campaign for repeal of the health care bill in congressional elections this fall" (Jackson, 6/22).

Wall Street Journal: "Republicans have called for a repeal of the health law, saying its price tag of nearly $1 trillion over 10 years is too high and warning that the new government restrictions and programs in the law will throttle private enterprise" (Adamy, 6/22).

The Chicago Tribune: Obama "pledged to defend the law against what he said was a Republican platform of rolling back important consumer protections.'We're not going back,' he said at an event in the East Room this afternoon. 'I refuse to go back. And so do countless Americans'" (Levey and Memoli, 6/22).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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