THIS JUST IN: Senate health care bill reinstates annual caps – insurance companies can kick you out if you get cancer and treatment costs too much

UPDATE from McJoan over at Daily Kos. She found a very interesting paragraph in the AP story:

Adding to the puzzle, the new language was quietly tucked away in a clause in the bill still captioned “No lifetime or annual limits.”

You don’t say.

And another update from Jane Hamsher, who quotes President Obama on September 10th of this year:

They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.

Or not.

Wasn’t that the entire point of this reform effort? To make it so that people with serious diseases, like cancer, wouldn’t lose their insurance because the treatment was too expensive? Ezra Klein explains:

“A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer,” reports the AP. The Senate Finance Committee barred annual caps altogether. The merged Senate bill only erases “unreasonable” annual caps. What’s “unreasonable?” Hard to say.

Hill sources explain that this was inserted because CBO said premiums would “go through the roof” if insurers couldn’t cap benefits. The official quote from Jim Manley, Harry Reid’s spokesperson, says much the same thing. “We are concerned that banning all annual limits, regardless of whether services are voluntary, could lead to higher premiums,” he explained.

Two interesting revelations. The first, that this problem was solved in the Senate Finance Committee bill – mind you, that was the crappy conservative Democratic bill. But the revelation that’s just as large is that Senator Reid’s own staff admits that there are no serious controls in this legislation on how high insurance companies can raise your premiums. Obviously this is the case, since Reid’s own staff admitted that insurance companies might retaliate against getting rid of the annual caps by simply sending our premiums through the roof.

This is why Joe, Chris and I have been so upset about the way health care reform has been heading. We no longer trust the Democrats in Congress or the administration to do the right thing because they have proven that they cannot be trusted. What else is hidden in the bill that we won’t find out about until it’s too late? And what is the point of the entire bill if our premiums can still soar and the insurance companies can still kick us off if we get really sick? (Or in my case, shut down my prescription drug coverage for the year because I had a whopping (and I jest with the word “whopping”) $1500 in prescriptions that they had to pay in one single year.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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