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Monday Happenings

A lot going on today…

Went to a CQ Forum this morning, where Senator Rockefeller gave the keynote talk on his recently released perspectives for reform. One of his main points was that, post-reform, it will be important to pursue public education campaigns and explain legislation during the 2010-2014 implementation period, particularly so to those who are anticipating immediate changes to the system. He also gave insight into some of the amendments he hopes to submit on the floor including:

-Increased regulation to promote insurance industry data accumulation, reporting, and transparency
-Increased Medical Loss Ratio floors for health insurance plans to 85%
-Health insurance rebates to the federal government if plan premiums are above a certain level
-Make self-insured plans (50-60% of private plans) accountable to state and national regulations (as they are currently exempt)
-Improved outreach and enrollment measures, as the CBO estimates that only 14 million of the 22 million newly eligible for Medicaid will actually enroll

I later attended a lunch press conference where Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), gave a shout out to California Medi-Cal Managed Care. In addition to referencing a report that I have discussed, she explained how she was persuaded by the cost-containment aspects of a public plan option that are already operating at the county level in the Golden State. Looking at ‘the two-plan’ counties in California that contract with HMOs to provide care to the Medi-Cal population, she commented “The interesting thing is that cost growth in the counties where there is a public and a private plan is indeed slower than in counties with two privately run plans.” Though a small sample, she said that “It’s one of the things that’s given me a sense that it could be something that could ultimately slow the growth rate of costs.” She then went on to heavily advocate for the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans as an effective cost-containing measure.

Oh ya, and Harry Reid has officially put the Public Option with a State Opt-Out into the Senate bill, which the CBO will score this week.