48 Amendments To Protect Health Insurers’ Interests

On Thursday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) speculated that “if there’s anything which is clear, it’s that the insurance industry is not running this markup, but it is running certain people in this markup.” Indeed, in the last two and a half years, the health insurance industry has spent at least $585,725,712 lobbying Congress to protect its investments in Medicare advantage, defeat competition from a public option (or even a cooperative), and preserve policies that allow it to attract a disproportionate number of healthy applicants.

An analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund of all 534 amendments has identified at least 48 amendments that directly reflect the industry’s wish list. And while the information below does not demonstrate a direct quid-pro-quo between an insurers’ contribution and a senator’s amendment, it raises an important question: Why are some senators so intent on protecting an industry that is partly responsible for creating the current health care crisis?

Watch a video compilation of senators arguing on behalf of the industry:

Industry ask: “We have strong concerns about the proposed funding cuts in Medicare Advantage.” [AHIP Letter, 9/21/2009]

Industry gets: At least 14 amendments that protect the 14% subsidy private plans receive for participating in the program.

Amendment Provision
Kyl D1 Strike Title III. Title III includes the cuts in Medicare Advantage payments via new competitive bidding rules for Medicare Advantage plans.
Roberts D9 Amend Title III to strike all provisions that reduce or have the effect of reducing financing for Medicare.
Kyl-Crapo D6 Kyl-Crapo D6—The amendment would strike the MA payment cuts under subtitle C of Title III

Insurers ask: “We have strong concerns about the proposal for new, untested government-created health insurance cooperatives.” [AHIP Letter, 9/21/2009]

Insurers get: At least 9 amendments eliminating the mark’s network of cooperatives.

Amendment Provision
Kyl C1 Eliminate the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) Program.
Hatch C7 Strikes the Federal Government-funded Health Care Cooperative under Title I, Subtitle E and direct savings to reduce the deficit.
Cornyn C18 Before the CO-OPs can operate or receive federal funding, the state must have implemented all the insurance reforms required by America‘s Healthy Future Act.

Industry asks: “We are concerned that the new national benefit standards – taking into account both the actuarial value requirements and provisions that provide unlimited access to any and all services – would impose higher costs.” [AHIP letter, 9/21/2009]

Industry gets: At least 4 amendments loosening benefits standards.

Amendment Provision
Enzi C1 The amendment lowers the actuarial value of the bronze plan to 60 percent and maintains the out-of-pocket limit specified in the Chairman‘s mark.
Kyl C11 Prohibits the federal government from limiting consumer choice by setting actuarial values of health insurance plans.
Cornyn C10 Gives states the authority to allow individual and small group health insurance plans that do not meet the actuarial standards described in Subtitle C, if the state determines this would result in more affordable coverage options for their residents.

Industry asks: “Without system-wide cost containment provisions, the proposed new taxes on high cost plans and the proposed new taxes on key components of health expenditures would cause many Americans to spend more on coverage….We are concerned that these provisions will increase costs.” [AHIP letter, 9/21/2009]

Industry gets: At least 8 amendments loosening benefits standards.

Amendment Provision
Grassley F1 This amendment would strike the fee on health insurance providers contained in the Chairman’s Mark.
Kyl F1 Eliminate all industry fees. Offset by reducing value of the affordability subsidy..
Cornyn F3 Cornyn F3 – Strike insurance industry fee.

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