Health Insurance Reform Weekly Easy To Insure Me Health Insurance Quotes

House and Senate
Things were quiet last week in Washington due to the 30 plus inches of snow the area received. On Feb. 9 House leaders announced that due to the heavy snow in the area they would suspend votes in the House for the remainder of the week. Congress will not be in session this week due to the President's Day recess and will reconvene the week of Feb. 22.

As a result of the congressional schedule, the timeframe for a floor vote on the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust legislation will be pushed back until the week of Feb. 22 at the earliest. Reports have stated that the antitrust bill is part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) strategy of moving smaller pieces of health care legislation quickly to help build momentum for a comprehensive health care reform bill. The Speaker also continues to urge House Democrats to pass the Senate bill as long as it is accompanied by a separate "reconciliation" bill that would 'œfix' key provisions in the Senate bill (e.g., raising the threshold for the Cadillac tax and dropping the Nebraska Medicaid provisions) to satisfy some members of her caucus.

The Senate remained in session last week, despite the weather, although Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated that the Senate would not conduct any votes. On Feb. 11, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) released the highly anticipated 'œjobs bill' '“ The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.

Senators Baucus and Grassley issued a joint statement, emphasizing that this bill was drafted with bipartisan input. They further stated: 'œWe also agree that, once properly reviewed, the package should be considered in a deliberate, but expeditious manner. Any efforts to needlessly delay Senate completion of consideration of this package through partisan means will undermine our goal of timely action in the current economic climate. Action on the expired provisions is long overdue. Timely action on incentives for economic activity and job creation also is needed.'
Hours after details of the 'œHIRE' legislation were released, Majority Leader Reid publicly stated that he was scrapping the bill. Reid told reporters that when the Senate returns from its recess on Feb. 22, 'œwe will move to a smaller package than has been talked about in the press.' Reid went on to state that some of the tax provisions included in the legislation '“ key to garnering Republican support for the deal '“ 'œconfuse' the bill. Reid went on to say that, 'œwe don't have a jobs bill. We have a jobs agenda.'

The draft 'œHIRE' legislation addresses a number of key health care issues:

* The bill extends, by three months, the eligibility period for premium subsidies for state continuation coverage and COBRA continuation coverage to include persons who are unemployed on or before May 31, 2010. The bill also clarifies that these subsidies are available to persons who are involuntarily terminated from their jobs after previously losing their employer-sponsored coverage due to a reduction in hours. The premium subsidies originally were enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the 'œstimulus bill.'

* The bill provides for a seven-month Medicare physician payment fix (sometimes known as the 'œdoc-fix'), maintaining physician payment rates at their current levels through Sept. 30, 2010. Under current law, in the absence of congressional action, physicians are scheduled to face a steep rate reduction on March 1.

* The bill provides for a one-year extension of both Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (section 626) and Medicare Cost Plans (section 627).

* The bill includes numerous provisions addressing Medicare fee-for-service reimbursement issues.
White House Health Care Reform Summit
In a pre-Super Bowl interview on CBS, President Obama said that he would like to host a televised health care summit with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on Feb. 25. While specific details are not yet available, the summit represents the Obama Administration's latest strategy to jumpstart the health care reform debate and seeks bipartisan cooperation following the loss of the Democrats' supermajority in the Senate. Republican leaders expressed interest in the summit, and House Republican Leader John Boehner (OH) issued a statement saying that, "The best way to start on real, bipartisan reform would be to scrap those bills and focus on the kind of step-by-step improvements that will lower health care costs and expand access." In response, White House officials insisted that the President is not interested in starting from scratch on health reform.

This week Democratic and Republican congressional leaders also met with President Obama at the White House to discuss the jobs bill, health reform, energy, trade and other legislative priorities.

Following the meeting, the President spoke with reporters and he made the following comments about health reform: 'œI'm going to be starting from scratch in the sense that I will be open to any ideas that help promote these goals. What I will not do, what I don't think makes sense and I don't think the American people want to see, would be another year of partisan wrangling around these issues; another six months or eight months or nine months worth of hearings in every single committee in the House and the Senate in which there's a lot of posturing. Let's get the relevant parties together; let's put the best ideas on the table. My hope is that we can find enough overlap that we can say this is the right way to move forward, even if I don't get every single thing that I want

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