Some reading on the House reform bill…

As we start the Senate debate on health reform, some key items about the health reform that passed the House of Representatives:

Politico’s Jonathan Allen and Patrick O’Connor has the scoop on some of the behind-the-scenes back-and-forth around the House of Representatives, which highlights at least three California Representatives, starting with Representative Dennis Cardoza. The article points out an interesting footnote, that the last two Democratic votes for the bill were Californians, Rep. Maxine Waters (who waited to be the deciding vote #218) and afterwards, Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

The House bill is the focus of this week’s Health Wonk Review, hosted by Louise Norris at Colorado Health Insurance Insider, which features some of our posts, here and elsewhere.

Health Access supports H.R.3962, as we wrote in our letter supporting the health reform measure. Our letter does mention areas that we agree, and areas where it could improve. What it doesn’t mention is the anti-abortion Stupak amendment, which was added on the day of the vote. It’s an overreach, going beyond extending the current federal prohibition against federal funding of abortions, to impact any private health plans offered in the exchange.

The amendment is bad in its policy, but also in its politics. The House bill was a very good bill, in most cases better than in Senate counterpart. But the Stupak amendment is a major exception to that rule, and this makes it harder to rally aggressive support for the other House provisions.

There are other issues with the House bill that need to be worked out in a conference committee. Lisa Girion at the Los Angeles Times has an important story about how provisions in health reform might undermine state-based consumer protections. Health Access, which sponsored many of those HMO patients’ rights in the past two decades, is working with Senators and members of Congress to point out the issues, so that national health reform serves as a floor, not a ceiling, for consumer protections. Luckily, as the article indicates, some of our members of Congress, from Susan Davis to Jackie Speier to John Garamendi, were heavily involved in the state passage or implementation of those protections, and so have a base of knowledge and passion on this issue.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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