Passage of health reform bill by House Dems cheered, jeered

This weekend the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962, arguably the most controversial and disruptive of the pack of health reform bills moving through Congress. As expected, the bill split health industry stakeholders, with health insurance plans expressing dismay that the legislation had passed.

In the wake of the bill's passage, the CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans issued a statement contending that the new legislation "fails to bend the healthcare cost curve" and "will cause millions to lose their existing coverage." This theme follows on previous challenges by AHIP, including a recent study that it says proves that the House Democratic plan would raise premiums for all.

Meanwhile, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association issued a similar statement, saying the group was "disappointed  that after months of rigorous debate and despite several analyses illustrating the very real unintended consequences of certain reform provisions." Like AHIP, the group argues that the new legislation will raise premiums, notably for employer-funded plans.

On the other hand, medical trade groups seem to be happy with the vote. For example, the American Medical Association issued a statement enthusiastically supporting the bill, which it says will "empower patient and physician decision making," as well as kicking off substantial insurance market restructuring, prevention and wellness initiatives and liability reforms.

The Medical Group Management Association has proven to be a fan as well, noting that the legislation addresses four of its six core healthcare reform principles. It continues to push for the passage of companion bill H.R. 3961, which would eliminate the 21.2 percent reduction in Medicare physician payments that otherwise will take place on January 1, 2010.

It's probably too early for groups in favor of the bill to celebrate, however. Despite widespread media attention given to the passage, nobody knows how things will come out in conference between the House and Senate. It's a real cliffhanger.

To learn more about the pending legislation:
- read this AHIP release
- read this Blue Cross Blue Shield release
- read this AMA release

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