Here at Nefouse and Associates we know how everyone enjoys watching C-Span especially when it comes to health insurance. So I have watched it for you and will give you the update.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified on the impact of the 2010 health care law. The Secretary job is to interpret, clarify and install the health care law. She was asked specific questions by Senators about the law.
The chairman of the committee helped right the law so he was very happy to praise the law and not ask any difficult questions.
The next Senator was Mike Enzi and his questions were geared towards the child stand alone policies. Under the law children under 19 are guaranteed issue and many carriers have pulled out of this market. So the Senator goes on to ask what is the Secretary doing to address the issue. The Secretary responded that the states should force carriers to cover these markets. The Senator asked specific questions about parents gaming the system by waiting until the child needs care to take out a policy. The Secretary did not give a clear answer on this.
Senator All Franken was up next. He really tried to simplify the health care law by comparing it to a 3 legged stool. There was not a lot of substance there. Almost to the point you wanted to ask him had he done his homework? The Senator did speak about Medical Loss Ratio and how it was his idea.
Senator John McCain was very prepared for this hearing. He asked about all the waivers that had been given to companies and why not make them permanent. The Secretary assured the Senator that these companies just need time to adapt to the health care law. The Senator then asked about waivers for Medicaid so states could reach their budgets. The Secretary stated certain areas of Medicaid would not be eligible for waivers. Then The Senator ask if Malpractice caps could be introduced and if the Secretary would support it. She said Yes.
Senator Jeff Bigaman talked about the Work Force Commission and how those resources would help stream line health care services. The Secretary spoke of the potential role this commission would have.
Senator Michael Bennett addressed the costly issue of readmission of Medicare Beneficiary. This was addressing the cost of Seniors on Medicare having multiple admissions to a hospital. He stressed the issue of Transitional Care and a more Effective delivery model. The Secretary spoke on progress of these areas.
Senator Pat Roberts spoke about his past history with the Secretary and her family. Then he addressed the head of the CMS and then talked about Independent Advisory Boards with regards to the Emergency Access centers in his home state. The Senator was making statement rather than asking about questions. There was no explanation on why this board needed to address ER access and who is even on this board.
Senator Jack Reed was stressing that the Mandatory coverage aspect of the law was pushed by the Insurance Industry. He was stressing maybe even blaming the insurance industry for this mandate. The Secretary then “schooled” the Senator on how a Private Insurance Market stays Solvent and without the mandate the market would incur adverse selection.
Senator Richard Burr talked about the cost of the reform law. He pointed out that CMS had recently released a $200 billion short fall on the health care reform. The Secretary very calmly recognized that loss and did not dispute that. The Senator then asked a tough question about the Medical Device Tax that will lead to increase cost. The Secretary did not agree the tax would increase the overall costs.
Senator Bernie Sanders talked about community health centers and how investing into them will lower cost down the road. The Secretary agreed.
Senator Kay Hagan talked about children being allowed to stay on a parents group health plan until 26. She spoke about her personal experience and then the Secretary talked about her personal experience of finding her adult child a health insurance policy.
Senator Patty Murray spoke about how the law is going to make premium increases more transparent. The Secretary went on to explain that premium increases have to be justified by the carriers and the federal Gov. is giving resources to review those areas. The Secretary also explained how more information about the insurance company was going to be public record. So you can look up how many claims have denied by a carrier and so on.
So there you have a hour and half of testimony summarized into a blog posting.
I thought the Secretary was prepared for this hearing she did a good job explaining certain aspects of the law. Where I feel she is letting the country down is on the cost of the law. There was only one Senator that asked about the cost. Only 3 Senators really asked tough questions the rest were set up questions for the Secretary to explain. There is 2,700+ pages of this law and then 1,000’s more pages clarifying the law. The Senate should have asked much deeper questions.