SFGate.com/Bloomberg, December 20, 2011

The Obama administration avoided a potentially brutal lobbying battle over the medical benefits insurers must cover under the U.S. health-care overhaul when it decided last week to hand the decision off to states. The Dec. 16 ruling, coming less than a year before the presidential elections, gives states the power to set coverage levels for the policies uninsured people will buy through regulated marketplaces, called exchanges, starting in 2014. Business groups will argue for a narrow set of benefits to save costs while consumer advocates push for more coverage. The decision shifts the debate to statehouses and away from the White House, and lets President Barack Obama say he’s giving governors and legislatures more flexibility within their own communities to confront rising medical costs and control changes brought about by the 2010 health-care law.

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