Healthcare Monday

A big week for insurance reformers: Healthcare reform might not be shaping up to be the deciding issue of November's midterms, but the changes taking effect this week will be sure to generate some buzz on Capitol Hill, as the parties continue to spar over the value of the new law. 

A central feature of the bill was the so-called "patients bill of rights," including provisions:

• prohibiting insurers from setting lifetime limits on coverage,

• allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plans up to age 26,

• banning insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions,

• preventing insurers from dropping coverage after patients get sick, and 

• requiring plans to cover comprehensive preventive services.

Those five provisions take effect Wednesday.

Along those lines… Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Sunday that Democrats should embrace the health reform law, rather than fleeing from it. 

“Some, particularly House members in districts that, you know, can often get gerrymandered and become tough districts are distancing themselves from the health care bill,” Kaine said on CNN's “State of The Union." “I don't tell people how to run their races, but I've been on a ballot seven times and won seven races, and in my experience, you ought to be proud of what you're doing and promote the accomplishments."

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) isn't on board: "When President Obama and Nancy Pelosi pressured Chet Edwards, Chet stood up to them and voted no against their trillion dollar health care bill," says a newly launched Edwards campaign ad.  

And neither is Mike Huckabee… The former Alabama governor said the patient's bill of rights is unfair to insurance companies.

"How would you like to be able to call your insurance agent for your car and say, 'I want you to insure my car,'" Huckabee told an audience at the Value Voters Summit in Washington Friday. "'Well, tell me about your car.' 'Well, it was a pretty nice vehicle until my sixteen year-old boy wrecked it yesterday.'

"Now how much would a policy cost if it covered everything? About as much as it's gonna cost for health care in this country."

Repeal, or replace, or what? Republicans opposing the health reform law might soon be faced with the dilemma of specifying their policy alternatives.

"During the health care debate there was just as much division within Republicans as there was between the parties," Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a GOP strategist and former head of the CBO, told the Associated Press. "It will be more visible now that Republicans may be in charge of one house because those divisions will come to the surface."

Why seek a solution if you don't see a problem? Capitol Hill leaders have largely ignored the latest Census numbers revealing that one in seven Americans lives in poverty, while one is six lacks health insurance. The reason?

"The reluctance of political leaders on both sides of the aisle to directly confront the fact that growing numbers of Americans are slipping into poverty reflects a stubborn reality about the poor: They are not much of a political constituency," writes The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher.

Death panels, revived: Christine O'Donnell, the GOP contender to replace former Sen. Joe Biden (D) in Delaware, warns that Democrats want to ration care to the elderly. 

"We've watched the tentacles of big government weasel their way into every part of our lives," O'Donnell told a conservative audience at the Values Voters Summit in Washington Friday. 

"Bureaucrats and politicians in Washington think they should decide what kind of light bulbs we use, what kind of toilets we flush, what kind of car we drive. … They even want unelected panels of bureaucrats to decide who gets what life-saving medical care and who is just too old or it's too expensive to be worth saving."