Health Inc.

Administration Seeks Power To Stop Insurance Rate Hikes

The Obama administration has been hammering health insurers over rate increases. Now it wants the feds to have the power to do something about them.

The administration's highly anticipated proposal for health overhaul set to be released Monday morning would create a seven-person board that would establish what sort of premium increases are reasonable, the Washington Post reports. The federal government, in collaboration with the states, would then be able to reject excessive rate hikes.

The idea follows a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. Many states have the authority to take action on excessive increases, but often don't follow through, says the Wonk Room blog. The blog also rounds up some recent requests for rate increases and the amounts approved in

Other planks in the president's overhaul plan started to leak out Monday. The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn wrote Obama's health team will include fraud-fighting ideas advocated by the GOP in the Democrats' plan.

Jettisoned from the Obama package: the so-called "Cornhusker kickback," a sweetheart Medicaid deal cut with Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska to win his vote for the Senate health bill in December. Now, instead of the feds paying the full freight for an expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska, Washington would pay a larger proportion of Medicaid costs in every state.

"The political logic of each move is clear enough," Cohn writes. "The former is designed to demonstrate bipartisanship; the latter is designed to eliminate a legislative deal that turned off so many voters."

We won't have to speculate too much longer about what the administration is going to lay on the table before the bipartisan health summit set for Thursday. The proposal should be posted online at 10 a.m. Monday. We'll update this post when it goes live.

Update: See our quick review of the proposal here.

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