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Good News For Consumers, Courtesy Of Late State Rep.

The late Rep. Cathy Harvin of Summerton, S.C.

New S.C. Law Protects Choice Of Doctor For Seriously Ill

By JIM DAVENPORT – Dec 29, 2010
By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolinians with serious medical conditions get a new benefit Saturday with a health insurance law that bars insurers from charging them more for at least 90 days when they drop doctors from their provider networks.

Health insurers will be required to continue coverage for several months for serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease and pregnancy at no extra cost when their in-network doctors drop out of an insurer’s network. The in-network coverage lasts for 90 days or until the end of the policy’s term, and during that time the insurer cannot impose higher deductibles or premiums. It affects all group or individual health insurance policies in the state.

The bill was pushed by the late state Rep. Cathy Harvin, a Summerton Democrat who died from complications of breast cancer Dec. 4, and was supported by the South Carolina Medical Association. Harvin’s colleagues said doctors being dropped from health insurer’s networks sometimes made Harvin’s own cancer fight more expensive.

“She was penalized because of those very issues,” said Sue Berkowitz, executive director of the advocacy group South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

That personal experience drove Harvin to push the legislation, said House Democratic Leader Harry Ott of St. Matthews.

Under current law, consumers can pay higher deductibles and out-of-network charges when an insurer and doctor part ways and the patient wants to continue seeing the same care provider.

Berkowitz said people are caught in the middle. “Why should you be penalized because the insurance company doesn’t want to pay the doctor the rate he says he needs to operate his business?” she said.

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So Much For The Mandate To Repeal Health Care Reform (For Now)

From U.S. New & World Report:

Majority Either Like Health Care Law Or Want It More Liberal

By Robert Schlesinger

Posted: December 29, 2010

You may have noticed the CNN/Opinion Research poll released earlier this week, which had this all too familiar top-line: 54 percent of voters oppose President Obama’s healthcare reform law. But drill down a bit and you’ll find another number familiar to those who have paid attention–but one generally lost amid the noise of the conservative healthcare narrative of backlash against government overreach. Only a relatively small minority of Americans dislike the new law because it’s too liberal.

From the poll:

“Do you oppose that legislation because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think it is not liberal enough?”

Favor 43%

Oppose, too liberal 37%

Oppose, not liberal enough 13%

No opinion 7%

Or to put it another way, 56 percent of Americans either like the law or would prefer that it was more robust.

As Steve Benen notes:

So, when you see the top-line results and see that 54% oppose the law, this is not to say that 54% have bought into the right-wing demagoguery and think Republican criticisms have merit. On the contrary, one could look at the same results and say that a 56% majority either support the law or want it to be even more ambitious in a liberal direction.

When Republicans try to gut the Affordable Care Act next year, insisting that the country is with them, it’s worth remembering a pesky detail: they’re wrong.

That said while Democrats can take comfort in poking that hole in the right-wing view of healthcare—and the fact that approval for the law has inched better overall—they should look with concern on the fact that public disapproval is growing against the individual mandate.

That is a place where the GOP may be able to bring along the bulk of the public (who of course don’t realize that the mandate was a Republican idea in the first place).

ACA Imposes Transparency On Premium Rate Hikes

New proposed Affordable Care Act regulations announced today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will bring new transparency and scrutiny to proposed health insurance rate increases.  These proposed rules allow HHS to work with States to require insurers to publicly disclose and justify unreasonable rate increases.

“Year after year, insurance company profits soar, while Americans pay more for less health care coverage,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The Affordable Care Act is bringing unprecedented transparency and oversight to insurance premiums to help reign in the kind of excessive and unreasonable rate increases that have made insurance unaffordable for so many families.”

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