Healthcare Monday: Reform was the focus from the start

Florida made headlines last week when a federal judge ruled that a similar suit against the individual insurance mandate could proceed. Earlier in the month a Michigan judge dismissed yet another suit on the topic, ruling that Congress does indeed have the right to require individuals to purchase healthcare coverage or face a fine. 

Common message: This issue, it seems, is headed for the Supreme Court.

White House not too worried about the lawsuits

"This is nothing new," Stephanie Cutter, assistant to the president for special projects, wrote Friday on the White House blog.

"We saw this with the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act —constitutional challenges were brought to all three of these monumental pieces of legislation, and all of those challenges failed," Cutter said. http://bit.ly/crc3MM

Good news for Part D beneficiaries

Costs for most seniors enrolled in Medicare's prescription drug benefit won't jump nearly as high next year as initially thought, an independent group reported this week. 

Avalere Health, a Washington-based policy group, estimates the average monthly premium for Part D's top 10 plans (by enrollment) will rise 0.2 percent in 2011 — a far cry from the 10 percent hike the same group estimated last month. http://bit.ly/dtFEhG

A bipartisan push to repeal healthcare reform?

That's what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is predicting. 

"About bipartisanship after the election, I predict there will be a good bit of effort," Graham said Sunday on "Face the Nation." 

"There will be a bipartisan effort to extend the Bush tax cuts and not let them expire. [In] 2012 and 2014, Democrats in swing states are going to get the message from independent voters to come to the middle. So I think we're going to have some bipartisanship when it comes to replacing the healthcare bill with a more moderate approach." http://bit.ly/9hiigA

The big question Graham and other repeal supporters face: How to get rid of the unpopular elements of the bill (e.g., the individual mandate) without also getting rid of the popular reforms (such as the prohibition on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions), which are inextricably linked to each other? 

Insurance battle heats up in the Northwest

Washington state's leading insurance regulator is ordering a top insurance company to resume selling its child-only healthcare plans. 

On Sept. 27, Washington's Regence BlueShield — the largest individual insurer in the state — announced it would stop selling policies only for children beginning Oct. 1.

But the decision didn't sit well with state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who told the company Friday that it has to resume that coverage.

"Regence is in clear violation of state law that prohibits insurers from denying insurance to people on the basis of age,” Kreidler said in a statement.

Kreidler said the change "had a serious impact on Washington families and could’ve had a devastating impact on the insurance market."

"Frankly, Regence deserves the backlash from its decision. It overreacted and now finds itself in violation of the law."

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