Washington President Barack Obama on Monday unveiled his 10-year, $1 trillion health plan, which would would bring health insurance to more than 31 million Americans who now lack it.
Government insurance wouldn’t be included in the plan, a problem for Democratic progressives. And Republicans are still skeptical about where the money would come from.
Here’s a look at Obama’s plan:
Does the president’s plan replace the bills that had passed in the House and Senate?
No. Obama’s plan is separate from the bills that passed last year in the House and Senate, but it follows the general framework of the Senate bill.
Like the bills approved last year, the proposal would require most everyone to be insured or pay a fine. An exemption exists for low-income people.
Obama’s proposal would stop unpopular insurance industry practices such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging women more.
The purpose is not to start over with a new health care blueprint, but to restart the debate that stalled after the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate last month.
The plan is not a bill.
Will the Obama plan be submitted to Congress?
It’s more likely to be used as a guide to negotiations over modifying the existing legislation, since the highly partisan atmosphere would make it very hard to start the legislative process from scratch again.
The plan is supposed to be the starting point for Obama’s televised, bipartisan health care summit Thursday.
What are the key differences between this plan and the bills in Congress?
One new item is a proposal to create a “Health Insurance Rate Authority” to assist and oversee state efforts to review “unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.”
What would this “Authority” do?
The Obama proposal is vague on details, but some have suggested that the “Authority” is being modeled off a bill that was proposed last week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in response to news of insurance premium increases as high as 39 percent in her state. Feinstein’s proposal would require insurers to justify rate increases, and would give the federal government the authority to reject or modify “unreasonable” rate hikes.
Don’t states already regulate health insurance?
States do regulate insurance, but the effect is uneven and not always effective. In many states, regulators cannot actually evaluate and reject rate increases before they take effect.