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Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi

House Democrats target insurance industry with health bill amendment


By Jennifer Lubell
Posted: November 4, 2009 - 9:15 am ET
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Congressional Democrats appear to be cracking down further on insurance companies in a supplementary document to the House health reform legislation that was released late Tuesday.

The document, otherwise known as a “manager's amendment,” sought to tie up loose ends in the legislation before it's considered on the the House floor later this week.

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In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the manager's amendment would build on the comprehensive reform bill introduced last week, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Pelosi listed “key improvements” the amendment brings to the bill, such as providing $1 billion in new resources to states to rein in “price gouging” by insurance companies, and expanding on a provision that would remove insurance companies' anti-trust exemption.

The new language takes other measures to further promote competition, bring down costs for Americans, and expand oversight to further prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, Pelosi said.

A yet-to-be resolved issue on abortion that has held up proceedings on the bill did not appear to be addressed in the manager's amendment. Democrats have been grappling with language to ensure that federal funds would not be used for abortions.

The manager's amendment would also exempt certain physician-owned hospitals that care for a higher share of Medicaid patients than their local competitors from the bill's proposed restrictions on expansion and development of these types of hospitals.

The legislation's Democratic sponsors, who have their eye on approving the bill before Veterans Day, insist their bill would benefit consumers and control healthcare spending, despite GOP proclamations that the legislation would cost more than $1 trillion and add to the federal deficit.

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The manager's amendment would also exempt certain physician-owned hospitals that care for a higher share of Medicaid patients than their local competitors from the bill's proposed restrictions on expansion and development of these types of hospitals.

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