Policy-ish

GOP Plan Resurrects Ideas From Health Bills Past

Even though Halloween is safely past, the health bill House Republicans plan to offer as an alternative to the Democrats' proposal is creeping up on us with a strong feeling of deja vu.

That's because the 230-page draft contains a laundry list of material the GOP has trotted out for years but has never quite gotten through Congress. (To see a PDF of the bill, click here.)

For instance, Association Health Plans—a way for small businesses to join forces to offer insurance—are in here, although they've been shot down many times before over concerns that they would have lax oversight compared to their competitors.

The bill also would free insurance companies to sell across state lines — an idea popularized in recent weeks by Rush Limbaugh.

It would also impose limits on medical malpractice claims, while Democratic bills only go so far as to request studies on the matter.

What does the GOP bill have in common with the proposals from Democrats? Well, the Republicans would end insurers' caps on lifetime health benefits and prevent companies from denying coverage for questionable preexisting conditions. Who could forget the agonizing story this summer of the woman who was denied breast cancer treatments because she failed to disclose to her insurance company that she once had acne?

Some other things we do know about the GOP bill is that it would not reduce Medicare spending, would not raise taxes, and would not add to the national deficit. It says so right in the preamble.

What we don't know is whether the GOP bill would do anything to improve health-care access or offer insurance coverage for those who need it at a cost they can afford.

We're still wading through the draft obtained by Health Policy Correspondent Julie Rovner and anticipating a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

Take a listen to her first piece of the day on it below, and stay tuned for more.

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