A Preview of the Obama Health Care Plan

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Although we’ve been talking for more than a year about the “Obama health plan,” the fact is, there hasn’t been one–until now. The NYT got a preview of at least part of the proposal that the White House has promised to post on the internet tomorrow.

Where most of the discussion in recent months has been about the question of how to cover the uninsured, one new provision appears to be an effort to refocus the debate back on the question of controlling medical costs–something that Americans say is their top concern about the current health care system.:

President Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation’s health care system, White House officials said.

The president’s legislation aims to bridge differences between the bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year, and to frame his debate with Republicans over health policy at a televised “summit” meeting on Thursday.

By focusing on the effort to tighten regulation of insurance costs, a new element not included in either the House or Senate bills, Mr. Obama is seizing on outrage over recent premium increases of up to 39 percent announced by Anthem Blue Cross of California and moving to portray the Democrats’ health overhaul as a way to protect Americans from predatory insurers.

Congressional Republicans have long denounced the Democrats’ legislation as a “government takeover” of health care. And while they will likely resist any expansion of federal authority over existing state regulators, they will face a tough balancing act at the meeting with the president to avoid appearing as if they are willing to allow steep premium hikes like those by Anthem.