Democratic Leadership in the US House on Thursday unveiled its health care plan–the Affordable Health Care for America Act(HR 3962). Sixth District Congressman and House Majority Whip James Clyburn is playing a significant role in working for passage of the bill and says he believes it will pass the House.
The plan includes a high-risk pool for those who don’t have health insurance.
(Hear Clyburn here :17 sec)5clyburnplan1
Clyburn says he’s not sure how many changes the legislation will undergo in a House-Senate conference committee since there are big differences between the bodies concerning funding.
The plan features guaranteed coverage and insurance market reforms. Insurance companies will no longer be able to refuse to sell or renew policies due to an individual’s health status, including catostrophic illness.
The proposal also prohibits insurance companies from excluding coverage of treatments for pre-existing health conditions. The bill also protects consumers by prohibiting lifetime and annual limits on benefits, and limits the ability of insurance companies to charge higher rates due to health status, gender, or other factors. Under the proposal, premiums can vary based only on age, geography and family size.
The bill would close the so-called “donut hole” for prescription drug coverage. Currently the government pays roughly for only the first $3000 of drug purchases each year by senior citizens, and won’t pay again until the patient has reached more than $6000 in drug expenses.
The House plan includes a public option. Clyburn considers the proposal to be a hybrid between the original House version, the so-called “robust public option,” which would save $118 billion, and the “negotiated rates” version from the Senate, which would save $25 billion.
Clyburn says the House version extends health care to 36 million people who aren’t currently receiving it, while that figure for the Senate plan is only 25 million. Even though insurance companies have been nervous about the affects of a new health care plan, Clyburn asserts that reaching more people will benefit insurers.
(Hear Clyburn here :14 sec)5clyburnplan4
Read the plan summary here: