CHN: Senate Rejects Enzi’s Attempt to Gut State Health Insurance Protections

Health care advocates are cheering after the defeat of a bill on the Senate floor that would have stripped away protections for people buying insurance individually or through their employers.   S. 1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization Act (HIMMA), was introduced by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and was considered by the Senate the week of May 8.  On Thursday, May 11, a procedural motion was defeated on the Senate floor-in effect, stopping the Enzi Bill (S. 1955) in its tracks. The vote on the “cloture” resolution (to end debate and go to a vote on passage) was 43 nays and 55 ayes (with 60 ayes needed to carry the resolution).
Though the bill’s alleged purpose was to make insurance affordable for small businesses, its reach was far greater than that.  States would no longer be able to mandate coverage of benefits, services, or categories of providers for individuals, small groups, or large groups.   More than 85,000 consumers would have been affected by the bill.
Many states require that insurance companies cover such services as diabetic supplies, mammography screening, mental health parity, minimum maternity stays and cancer screenings.  Many states also mandate insurance companies to cover visits to dentists, optometrists, psychologists and nurse practitioners.  Those protections would disappear under the Enzi bill.  In addition, the bill would have overridden protections that prevent insurance companies from charging older and sicker workers much higher premiums than younger or healthier workers.  The bill set a ceiling on, but no floor under, what states can do to protect insurance consumers.

Thousands of advocates flooded the Senate with calls in opposition to the bill.  Due to time constraints on the Senate floor schedule for the remainder of the year, it is unlikely the Enzi proposal will reappear this year.

Budget Report 2012 - Self-Inflicted Wounds