The New Preventive Services The GOP Can’t Bring Itself To Take Away

Yesterday, I explained why the new regulations about which preventive services insurers will be required to cover at no additional cost did not include family planing services without really delving into the specifics of the rules themselves. Luckily, Tim Jost has looked at the regulations and as he points out, this is the simplest rule yet:

— Insurers will begin following the new rules starting September 23, but we expect to see relatively few changes at first. Grandfathered plans — i.e. all existing insurance plans — aren’t required to follow the new rules, although laws in many states already require insurers provide the preventive treatments. “Over time, however, plans will lose grandfathered status and the benefits and costs will rise.”

— The lists of preventive services is available here and it includes most screenings, laboratory tests, and vaccinations.

Plans may also use “reasonable medical management techniques to determine the frequency, method, treatment, or setting for an item or service” if consistent with the recommendation or guideline.

— The three federal departments estimate that premiums will increase on average about 1.5 percent, with some of the increase resulting from a transfer of costs to insurers from individuals who will face reduced cost-sharing, and some due to increased demand attributable to the absence of cost-sharing.

These kinds of benefits make the entire Republican premise of repeal so completely intangible. As I will never tire from pointing out, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) took credit for the provision on Monday and the pro-repeal crowd has been remarkably silent about the new regulations. They like to discuss the law in the broad terms of deficits, entitlements, and rationing and use rhetoric that has no connection to the very tangible benefits of affordable cancer screenings and vaccinations. They’ll cling to their terms even as the law is slowly implemented, but I suspect that as the benefits increase, support for repeal will tapper off to the point where its mere mention will be seen as inappropriate. Of course health reform has its costs and the law has its problems, but eventually, people won’t want to give up what the Republicans want to take away because they’ll actually have it.