What is ObamaCare?

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user zenashots.

For months, opponents of the Democrats’ health reform plans have railed against “ObamaCare.”  Well, President Obama has finally put his own stamp on health care reform.

Just this morning he released details about the plan he favors going forward. So what does ObamaCare look like? It turns out it’s a lot like the Senate version of health care reform, passed back in December.

President Obama’s plan has a health insurance exchange, but no public plan. It has an individual insurance mandate, but no strict mandate for employers to provide coverage. Like the Senate bill, President Obama requires employees to contribute to the cost of providing coverage if their employees are receiving some type of federal subsidy for their coverage.

There are some changes though. President Obama would increase the threshold for taxing so-called Cadillac health plans from $23,000 in the Senate bill to $27,500. And that tax wouldn’t kick in until 2018. The President’s version of health reform also includes more insurance protections for consumers and gives the Health and Human Services department more oversight of the health insurance industry.

Given that the administration has spent the last few weeks complaining about insurance company rate hikes, these provisions shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Finally, the President’s plan borrows a few ideas from Republicans. The President hasn’t ceded any major policy turf to the GOP here, he simply included some of their ideas on curbing waste, fraud, and abuse.

The plan is the first time the President has definitively staked out his position on health care reform. Now this plan will serve as the starting point for the bipartisan health care summit scheduled for Feb. 25. Stay tuned for more developments out of that meeting.

— Mary Ellen Schneider (on Twitter @MaryEllenNY)

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Filed under Health Policy, health reform, IMNG, Practice Trends

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