Thursday, September 17, 2009

Senate Finance Committee Plan Goes Far To Achieve Reform But New Taxes Raise Affordability Concerns

/PRNewswire/ -- Scott P. Serota, president and chief executive officer of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), issued the following statement regarding the chairman's mark released yesterday by Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and members of the Senate Finance Committee:

"We strongly support healthcare reforms that expand coverage to everyone, improve quality, and rein in costs. This chairman's mark achieves many of these goals.

"The mark addresses many necessary insurance reforms, the foundation of which is a proposal advocated by BCBSA to guarantee coverage to everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. We commend Chairman Baucus for including in his mark a personal responsibility requirement to obtain and maintain coverage -- the linchpin to making insurance reforms work.

"We also support the mark's age rating provision which allows discounts to young people to encourage them to purchase coverage. Age rating provisions in other bills would preclude these discounts and would result in major premium increases to young people causing many to forgo coverage. Making insurance affordable for young people, who account for as much as 40 percent of those without insurance, is critical to reducing the number of uninsured and will help to lower the cost of health insurance for everyone, including older Americans.

"We strongly support the goal of making coverage affordable. However, we are greatly concerned that burdensome new taxes and fees aimed at insurers and other healthcare industry stakeholders would severely undermine the reforms that the chairman's mark aims to achieve. These unprecedented new taxes would make coverage much less affordable for individuals, their families, and employers.

"We look forward to continuing a vigorous and productive discussion with the Senate Finance Committee. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve meaningful and sustainable change in our healthcare system, and BCBSA will continue to advocate for reforms that expand access to everyone, improve quality, and rein in costs."

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