President Bush met with the GOP House leadership earlier Wednesday, lending his support to the House patient protection proposal crafted by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Reps. John Boehner (R-OH), Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Ernest Fletcher (R-KY).
An amendment by Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) that would have exempted employers with 50 or fewer employees from liability under the bill fell by a 53-45 vote.
Also defeated (54-45) was an amendment introduced by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Don Nickles (R-OK) that would have barred the independent review boards created under the bill from ordering coverage of benefits that were “specifically excluded” or “expressly limited” in an insurance contract. The bill would also have established safe harbor standards for terms such as “medical necessity.”
An amendment later submitted by bill co-sponsor Senator McCain included a similar, but scaled-back amendment that would force independent reviewer boards to honor exclusions in the health plan, but did not include the safe harbor definitions from the Nelson bill. The McCain amendment passed by a 100-0 vote.
Thursday’s debate is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. with proposals from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and John Breaux (D-LA). Those amendments were introduced late Wednesday by the Senators, and purport to offer greater flexibility in states’ application of their patient protection laws.
Other amendments are expected on liability from Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), as well as one from Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska). The Snowe amendment is expected to include the “designated decisionmaker” language from the Frist/Breaux/Jeffords bill.
SEE ALSO :
The American Benefits Council offers ” Talking Points on Flaws of McCain-Kennedy “Designated Decision-Maker Language “.