WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is revealing details of
how the government will enforce the health overhaul law, an
announcement expected to focus on how insurance companies must
Administration officials were meeting privately Tuesday at the
White House with insurance company CEOs and state insurance
commissioners, the White House said in a written statement, with
Obama expected to attend at least part of the session. The
president was then expected to announce regulations for
implementing consumer safeguards enacted by the law, according to
administration allies who were briefed in advance and spoke on
condition of anonymity.
The events mark 90 days since Obama signed the health revamp
into law, one of his administration's chief victories so far.
The law's consumer safeguards, called the patients' bill of
rights, are limited steps that take effect this year. The main
provisions, including federal funding to help 32 million uninsured
people get coverage, won't come until 2014. The administration
worries that escalating premiums will force more people drop their
policies before the law is fully implemented.
Consumers who buy their policies directly face increases
averaging 20 percent this year, according to a survey released
Monday by the private Kaiser Family Foundation. Although most
Americans are covered on the job, about 14 million purchase
insurance on the individual market and have the least bargaining
power when it comes to costs.
Obama foreshadowed parts of his announcement last week, telling
a nurses' group that the patients' bill of rights would include the
elimination of lifetime dollar limits on coverage, a particular
problem for people dealing with hard-to-treat types of cancer.
Insurance companies would be prohibited from canceling the policies
of people who get sick, he added. And health plans would be
required to provide consumers with simple and clear information
about their choices and rights.
The law also calls for other safeguards to be put in place this
year, including allowing women to pick an ob-gyn specialist as
their primary care doctor and prohibiting insurers from denying
coverage to children on account of previous medical problems.
Protection against insurance denials would extend to adults in
2014, when most Americans would be required to carry coverage.