Republicans are sure to come to President Obama's newly announced health care summit later this month armed with proposals for how to change Democratic health care reform bills. House Republicans late last year proposed an alternative that is summarized below. Which proposals are good ideas that should be seriously considered, and which should be scrapped?
1. Provide states with $25 billion to create high-risk pools or reinsurance programs. States would have to eliminate waiting lists for existing high-risk pools, and premiums would be capped at 150 percent of the state's average premium (down from 200 percent).
2. Protect those with pre-existing medical conditions by extending current provisions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
3. Prohibit insurers from imposing annual or lifetime spending caps.
4. Prohibit insurers from fraudulently canceling health insurance by creating an independent appeals panel.
5. Provide $50 billion to states that adopt reforms reducing the cost of health insurance and expanding coverage (subsidizing health insurance or expanding Medicaid eligibility wouldn't qualify).
6. Allow small businesses to pool together through association health plans to buy insurance.
7. Require health plan dependent coverage to go up to age 25.
8. Allow Americans to purchase insurance in any state.
9. Enhance health savings accounts by providing tax credits to low and moderate-income individuals for some contributions, and allowing taxpayers to use HSA funds to pay premiums.
10. Establish a statute of limitations on bringing a medical malpractice case; cap noneconomic damage awards at $250,000; allow the court to restrict attorney fees; clarify and limit punitive damages; and protect states with existing "functional medical liability laws."
11. Repeal the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.
12. Prohibit federal money from being used to pay for abortions, and create a conscience protection clause to allow health care providers to refuse to perform abortions based on moral or religious objections.
The full summary provided by the Republican staff at the House Ways and Means Committee in November can be found here.