Friday, January 14, 2011

IOM Meeting

This excerpt from this morning's Politico Pulse about yesterday's open hearing on "essential health benefits" is noteworthy because it indicates that AHIP was not alone in advocating the FEHB Act's approach of identifying broad categories of benefits (which approach also is used in Affordable Care Act Section 1302 but the final decision is left to the HHS Secretary):
Many of the experts who weighed in argued that keeping the definition of essential benefits broad would be the best thing for the government, the consumer and the market. The purposely vague categories for EHB’s gives “more Americans the ability to choose with their feet,” said Katy Spangler, a top adviser to Senate HELP Committee Republicans. “The details would and should be left up to the market to avoid huge increases in premiums.” David Schwartz, health counsel for Senate Finance Dems agreed “We need to allow for these things to change over time. Too many specifics won’t provide enough flexibility in the market.” David Bowen, former HELP health policy director, said that while the creation of the bill was “fraught with melodrama, the pages around essential benefits were melodrama free,” —indicating an oh-so-rare degree of bipartisan support. “It’s nice to see both sides of the aisle agree on something,” John Ball, the committee’s chair, said.
At this afternoon's meeting, the parties advocating for precise descriptions will be speaking. In any event, this is encouraging.

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