Health Care Law Allows States to Tailor Benefits
January 6, 2012
The Obama administration, in a big surprise on the contentious new health care law, declared on Friday that it would not delineate a uniform set of “essential health benefits” that insurers must provide for the tens of millions of Americans. Instead, the law will let each state to indicate the benefits within extensive categories.
This would permit considerable variations in terms of benefits from one state to the next. Such variations would be similar to the present-day differences in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs.
By allowing states to have the discretion in outlining crucial benefits, the Obama administration will be deflecting one of the strongest arguments made by Republicans on the health care overhaul supported by President Obama, which is the imposition of a stiff, bureaucrat-controlled health system on Americans and jeopardizing the quality of care. Health care overhaul opponents claim that the federal government is imposing a one-size-fits-all standard for health insurance and abusing state authority to control the industry.
This condemnation spurred various legal challenges to the new law, and helps clarify why there is a deep chasm when it comes to public opinion on the health care overhaul. Next year, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the government can oblige Americans to buy health insurance.
The law is seen to be one of the central issues in the coming 2012 presidential election, with Republican candidates being appraised on the strength of their resistance to it. The administration’s announcement follows its decision to get rid of a program created in the law to make available long-term care insurance, a move that clearly upset liberal backers of the program, which have been fiercely advocated for by the late Senator Edward Kennedy.