- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
White House releases ‘patients’ bill of rights’
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama unveiled a package of consumer benefits Tuesday to build support for his health care overhaul within a divided nation and warned Republicans about trying to repeal his landmark law. “We’re not going back,” said a defiant president.
Marking the first 90 days since the bill was signed, the White House rolled out new regulations that explain how several provisions of the law will be carried out, including a ban on insurers denying coverage to children in poor health.
With polls showing Americans split over the health insurance expansion, Obama told an invited audience at the White House that Republicans who seek to reverse such protections do so at their own political peril. “We’re not going back,” the president emphasized. “I refuse to go back. And so do countless Americans.”
The White House called it a “patients’ bill of rights,” but Republicans dismissed Tuesday’s announcement as a public relations effort.
“This shouldn’t be called a health care bill of rights, but a bill of goods that the American people aren’t buying,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican. “There isn’t enough slick advertising, politically crafted events or artful sales pitches that will change that.”
However, many Republicans agree with at least some of the consumer protections, which were among the least controversial elements of Obama’s $1 trillion, 10-year overhaul legislation.
The law’s major benefit — expansion of coverage to some 32 million uninsured — doesn’t come until 2014. So Obama is doing his best to showcase its modest early benefits.
The safeguards announced Tuesday apply to most health plans renewing on or after Sept. 23. They include:
— Guaranteed coverage for children with pre-existing health problems. The administration estimates that about 540,000 children with health problems are uninsured, and some 51,000 are likely to gain coverage. It’s still unclear whether families will be able to afford the premiums. The law does not limit what insurers can charge.
— A ban on lifetime coverage limits. More than 100 million people are enrolled in plans that currently impose such limits, the White House said.
— Phasing out annual coverage limits. Starting this year, plans can set annual limits no lower than $750,000. Such limits rise to $2 million in 2012, and will be completely prohibited in 2014.
— Prohibiting insurers from canceling the policies of people who get sick. Unintentional mistakes on application forms cannot be used to revoke a policy. Most health insurance companies have already complied voluntarily.
— Guaranteed choice of primary care doctors and pediatricians from a plan’s network. No referral needed for women to see an OB-GYN specialist. No prior approval needed to seek emergency care out-of-network.
The new rules apply to most health plans, except in cases where they are “grandfathered” under the law.
Starting in 2014, adults with a history of prior medical problems will be guaranteed health insurance as well. In the meantime, the administration is setting up a special high-risk pool starting July 1 to provide affordable coverage to uninsured people with health problems. But a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office confirms previous estimates that the $5 billion allocated to the program won’t be enough to meet needs.
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Allowing states to innovate could reduce dependency on bureaucracy
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq