Health Care Legalese

As the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a health care bill last Friday night, that panel made its share of changes and additions to the overall health legislation.  Two other committees in the House have done the same.

But don’t hold your breath on seeing those amended plans in cyberspace anytime soon unfortunately, as Democrats try to combine the three bills into one in the weeks ahead.

If you would like to take a look at all of the amendments that were considered in the Energy & Commerce markup, you can do that at http://bit.ly/EKTfz – there are pdf links to all amendments and votes.

There were three key admendments approved by Democrats near the end of Friday’s markup session, one from the Blue Dogs (Ross), one from the Progressives (liberals) who were mad about the Blue Dogs deal (Baldwin) and another that sought to gain more liberal support by addressing limits on premium increases in the Health Exchange plans (Schakowsky).

The Schakowsky amendment would for the first time limit annual health insurance premium increases in an effort hold down on health care costs.

That would be achieved by limiting premium increases – in plans that were part of the Health Insurance Exchanges – to 150% of medical inflation.

Backers say that 24 states already have some kind of such mechanism in place to hold down on premium increases.

Rep. Schakowsky said her plan would have either the Health Choices Commissioner or a state insurance commissioner “review rate increases above the threshhold before the increases can take effect.”

“This is about reining in out-of-control insurance premiums that price people out of health care,” Schakowsky said.

You can see the text of her five page amendment at http://bit.ly/kvBr3 .

Her amendment, designed to attract the votes of liberals irked by the Blue Dog deals earlier in the week, would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription prices for seniors and the disabled.

Another amendment designed for liberals came from Rep. Tammy Baldwin ( http://bit.ly/1008eL)

Among other things, it includes expanded electronic transacations in Medicare, which backers said would save millions of dollars in paperwork.