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Obama to target rate increases in health plan

US: President Barack Obama will propose giving the US government new power to block health insurance companies from attempting “excessive” rate increases when he posts his plan for how to overhaul the healthcare system, the White House said on Sunday.

Gearing up for a bipartisan meeting it hopes will help seize back control of the healthcare debate, the White House will unveil its own plan on Monday for how to overhaul the $2.5 trillion US medical care system.

Obama will add a measure targeting insurance companies, a White House official said, something that had not been included in Democratic healthcare overhaul bills reached after months of debate and compromise in the House of Representatives and Senate. The White House has been targeting health insurers with particular vehemence as it makes its case for the overhaul in recent days, seeing corporate profits as a relatively easy target for public anger in the face of flagging voter interest in the healthcare fight.

Obama’s plan will be posted on the White House’s website at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Monday to allow ample time for review before Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress meet Republicans on Thursday for a televised conference on the proposed overhaul, one of Obama’s top domestic policy priorities.

“As bad as things are today, they’ll only get worse if we fail to act. We’ll see exploding premiums and out-of-pocket costs burn through more and more family budgets,” Obama said on Saturday.

White House officials have said little on the record about what exactly will be posted, as they wait for official word from the president, beyond saying they expect it will combine the best features of the House and Senate bills.

Washington, Monday, Reuters

 

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