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Ezra Klein talks to AHIP

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A CONVERSATION WITH AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS.

I gave Robert Zirkelbach, AHIP's director of Strategic Communications, a call to talk through the proposal his organization released today and get more specifics on their stance towards community rating, public plans, and affordability questions. Our chat is transcribed below. ...

... Ezra: And let me make sure I understand this proposal, as currently formed. So somebody could come onto the individual market, and they could say, "listen, I lost my job recently; I lost my health insurance; about four years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer; it's in remission." This proposal, as far as I understand, does not have anything saying that the care would be affordable, just that it couldn't be straight-forwardly denied. Right?

AHIP: Well, affordability has to be a top priority. I mean, we need to ensure that there are adequate tax credits for moderate-income folks. There needs to be a strong safety net for the lower-income individuals. And, we have to tackle the cost-drivers that are driving up the cost coverage. We need to find a way to make sure that healthcare coverage is affordable for everybody.

Ezra: But, so without something more concrete about that in this proposal, I guess my question is, what are we actually looking at here? Because it seems to me that the question that you related from the folks you spoke to in the Campaign for an American Solution -- what they were saying is, "I'm worried that I'm not going to be able to access healthcare coverage, not just that I won't be able to have insurance sold to me at some price, but that price will be something I can't afford." And we have to solve that.

AHIP: Well, the affordability issue is up there with ... you know we heard questions, concerns about affordability just as much as we heard concerns about preexisting conditions. Both of those issues have to be a priority.

Ezra does a very good job with this; but so far as I know he has not so much as looked at the text of HR 676, much less spoken with Conyers.

Maybe he could stop by later today and speak with Katie Robbins.

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Submitted by jawbone on

anyone high risk in some way, such as preexisting conditions. So, profit will be kept private and cost socialized.

Gee, just like with the Big Banker Boyz....

AHIP: Well, affordability has to be a top priority. I mean, we need to ensure that there are adequate tax credits for moderate-income folks. There needs to be a strong safety net for the lower-income individuals. And, we have to tackle the cost-drivers that are driving up the cost coverage. We need to find a way to make sure that healthcare coverage is affordable for everybody.

What's not to like for the for-profit insurance companies?

It's not like they're highly unionized and Congress will ask them for a Plan....

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Submitted by amberglow on

"... the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, containing some of the best and most comprehensive health-care plans in the nation. They pay premiums, but the federal government (read taxpayers) subsidizes 72 percent to 75 percent of the cost of their health plans.

An example of an older senator's premium for both him and his wife: $290 a month.

...

And government-provided and government-subsidized health coverage for members of Congress doesn't stop there. In the Capitol, there is a physician's office with 13 top doctors and other health professionals ready to serve the needs of any member. This is a luxury not available to most North Carolinians -- even those lucky enough to have affordable health insurance at work.

The final jewel in the congressional medical crown? The National Naval Medical Center, with a taxpayer-funded, government-run Executive Clinic where "[w]orld-class care is delivered to the nation's leaders -- members of the Executive Branch, the U.S. Congress, Supreme Court justices, flag and general officers of the armed services, and eligible family members."

Obviously, what's good for those at the top of the heap in Washington isn't what those members who voted against SCHIP think is good for uninsured children in North Carolina.

Perhaps eliminating the taxpayer-funded federal health-care subsidy for members of Congress would inject a little reality into this debate. ..." -- http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/colu... -- The health care lawmakers get