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Insurers score big win as parliamentarian blocks rate hike watchdog

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A Democrat’s proposal to create a government watchdog board which would vet insurance premium hikes is likely off the table after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the proposal isn’t suitable to be added in reconciliation, the budget measure Democrats are using to move health care reform forward in the Senate.

The announcement hands a victory to the managed US healthcare industry, which claims that it needs double-digit rate hikes to maintain profitability. The proposal to create the national rate authority came after an announcement from Wellpoint, which said it was raising the premiums of some Blue Cross members in California by 39 percent. (Wellpoint isn’t alone in its double-digit rate hikes — Michigan, Connecticut and Maine have all seen hikes of more than 20 percent in the past year.)

It was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The insurance industry also received an earlier victory with regard to premiums when the Government Accountability Office ruled that a requirement that insurers spend 85-90 percent of premiums on medical expenses would effectively doom the insurance industry. As such, Democrats changed the “cost-benefit” ratio cap to 80 and 85 percent, the range currently enjoyed by insurance carriers.

Feinstein’s proposed insurance premium regulatory board would have dramatically transformed the for-profit insurance landscape, effectively turning health insurers into regulated utilities, like electric power generators.

The California senator told Huffington Post Wednesday that the Senate parliamentarian — who sets the rules for the controversial procedure Democrats are using to pass health care reform — found that her National Insurance Rate Authority runs afoul of reconciliation rules.

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“I’m crushed it’s out,” she was quoted as saying. But “I’m going to make one last effort with the parliamentarian.”

Feinstein’s original proposal would have:

· Required companies to justify unreasonable premium increases, using a process to be established by the Health and Human Services Secretary.

· Give the Secretary authority to deny or modify health insurance rate increases that are found to be unjustified.

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· Required the Secretary to determine whether states have the capability to conduct rate reviews. To assist the Secretary, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners will submit a report that examines current state authority, capabilities, and recent rate review actions.

· Establish a Medical Insurance Rate Authority to advise the Secretary. It will have seven members — two consumer representatives, one insurance industry representative, one physician, and three additional experts.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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John Oliver perfectly explains the Mueller report in a way all Americans can understand

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The overwhelming majority of Americans have not read the 400-plus-page report from special counsel Robert Mueller. As it stands, it's unclear how many elected officials have either. It's become a problem for Democrats, who would like to impeach the president but can't get the American people to pay attention long enough.

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver has a solution. In his Sunday show, Oliver outlined a vital piece of the report that outlined just one of many obstructions of justice at the hand of President Donald Trump.

After he outlined what impeachment is, he showed Trump talking about the law that claims it's for "high crimes and misdemeanors." According to Trump, he has to be accused of both because it says "and." An annoyed Oliver corrected the president's incorrect assessment.

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John Oliver unleashes epic supercut of Fox News host who can’t stop bragging about learning German in high school

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Fox News host Brian Kilmeade took German as his foreign language in high school. If you didn't know that, then you likely don't watch Fox News, because the host has made a claim several dozen times.

HBO host John Oliver spent a few moments out of his Sunday episode of "Last Week Tonight" to mock Kilmeade for his desire to remind people of his three years of classes frequently.

Kilmeade has talked about it so many times that his co-hosts began preempting his comment every time the country of Germany is mentioned, or the German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears on the screen.

Watch the hilarious mockery below:

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Trump thinks he can create his own healthcare law that will take the issue off the table for Democrats

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One of the significant issues Republicans lost on in 2018 was their nearly decade-long crusade to unmake the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

This week Trump will announce that he's running for president again, and he promises a surprise announcement while there. While it's unclear what he intends for the surprise, one thing he is talking about is a better healthcare law than the Democratic one.

According to The New York Times, Trump is "vowing to issue the plan within a month or two, reviving a campaign promise with broad consequences for next year’s contest."

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