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Part Two: Talking with Investigative Journalist Margie Burns on Health Care

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Welcome back for the second half of my interview with journalist Margie Burns. How close does any of the proposed legislation come to dealing with health insurance abuses, especially given the fact that we don't really know how widespread they are, besides for anecdotally?

The House bill, H.R.3200, includes Title I, Protections and Standards for Qualified Health Benefit Plans. Protections in the bill include the following, according to the Congressional Research Service:

prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions;

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providing for guaranteed coverage to all individuals and employers and automatic renewal of coverage;

prohibiting premium variances, except for reasons of age, area, or family enrollment;

prohibiting rescission of health insurance coverage without clear and convincing evidence of fraud.

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The bill imposes the following standards for qualified health benefits plans, again according to CRS:

requiring qualified health benefits plans to provide essential benefits;

prohibiting an essential benefits package from imposing any annual or lifetime coverage limits;

requiring services covered including hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health services, preventive services, maternity care, and children's dental, vision, and hearing services and equipment;

limiting annual out-of-pocket expenses to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family.

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The Senate bill, S.1679,

  • prohibits preexisting condition exclusions;
  • limits premium variances;
  • provides for guaranteed coverage of every employer and individual and automatic renewal of coverage;
  • limits cost-sharing for preventive care;
  • requires coverage of a dependent child until 26 years of age;
  • prohibits lifetime or annual limits on benefits; and
  • prohibits group health plans from establishing eligibility rules based on salary of the employee.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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