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Obama administration gets health reform under way
July 19th, 2010
WASHINGTON – Health care reform is being viewed more favorably following the Obama administration’s rollout of multiple regulations laying the groundwork for the law’s implementation.
New rules that affect health insurance include permission for young adults to stay on their parents’ policies and a prohibition on denying coverage to children who have pre-existing conditions.
The federal government has also begun taking applications for partial reimbursements to companies for the cost of providing health benefits to early retirees. And $250 checks to Medicare beneficiaries with high drug costs have begun to be sent out.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 48% of Americans had a positive view of health care reform in June, up from 41% a month earlier.
The survey suggests that while the economy and jobs remain the top the issues for the November midterm elections, health care reform is in the mix. Roughly a third of voters say that a candidate who voted for the health reform law will be more likely to get their vote, a third say less likely, and another third say it doesn’t matter.
To help consumers get information on insurance choices, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this month unveiled HealthCare.gov. The web site is said to be the first to provide consumers with public and private coverage options tailored for their needs.
“HealthCare.gov helps consumers take control of their health care and make the choices that are right for them by putting the power of information at their fingertips,” says HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “For too long, the insurance market has been confusing and hard to navigate. HealthCare.gov makes it easy for consumers and small businesses to compare health insurance plans in both the public and the private sector and find other important health care information.”
Earlier, the White House released a “patients’ bill of rights,” including a ban on lifetime coverage limits, a phaseout of annual limits, a prohibition on policy cancellations for people who get sick, and guaranteed choice of primary care doctors and pediatricians from a plan’s network.
Defying Republicans’ call for repeal of health care reform, President Obama said, “We’re not going back. I refuse to go back. And so do countless Americans.”
But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) labeled the bill of rights “a bill of goods that the American people aren’t buying.” He said, “There isn’t enough slick advertising, politically crafted events or artful sales pitches that will change that.”
The Kaiser survey found one thing that most Americans agree on: The differences that Republican and Democratic congressional candidates have over the new law are more likely to be driven by politics than by policy.
Meanwhile, support for individual elements of the law reported in earlier tracking polls has not slipped. Many remain very popular, including on a bipartisan basis.