New Obamacare regs confirm Americans will not have same insurance choices as Congress 

Department of Health and Human Services proposed regulations released Monday confirm that not all Americans will be given the same insurance choices as Congress under Obamacare. The 244-page proposed rule would allow states to include health plans on their insurance exchange with coverage below levels given to federal employees. The regulations would then allow employers to lock their employees into a health plan with coverage below that available to Members of Congress.

President Obama’s 2000+ page health care law requires the creation of health insurance marketplaces in all 50 states. Monday’s proposed rule was the first look states got at how they could create their own exchange before HHS could come in and create one for them. If a state fails to set up an exchange that satisfies HHS bureaucrats, the federal government is required to come in and set up an exchange for them. The rule released Monday would then lock states under federal control for at least one-year. Only 12 states have passed laws establishing a health insurance exchange. Even for those states with functioning exchanges, like Utah, it is still not clear if their exchanges will be approved by HHS.

Also still unclear is whether or not HHS will retain the authority to control health insurance premiums in the supposedly state-run exchanges and what a minimum health benefits plan must cover. Monday’s rules were vague on the first point and HHS will issue separate regulations on minimum benefits later this year.

States are also concerned about the authority the regulations give the federal government over Medicaid eligibility. The Heritage Foundation’s Ed Haislmaier notes that Section 155.110 of the proposed regulations states that “the Exchange remains responsible for ensuring that all Federal requirements related to contracted functions are met.” “Thus, it’s difficult to see how state lawmakers can retain control over Medicaid eligibility under these regulations, Haislmaier writes.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new rules at Frager’s Hardware Store near Capitol Hill Monday. On Friday, Frager’s co-owner John Weintraub told told Kaiser Health News, “I am not confident at all that Obamacare will lower my costs. It seems like whenever the government does get involved in something like this, it never works out.”

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