*Taking the fight to insurance companies, President Barack Obama is trying to revive his stalled health care overhaul.
Obama will propose giving federal authorities the power to limit rate hikes by health insurers – part of a new blueprint for remaking the health care system that the White House will unveil Monday. Days before a health care summit with congressional leaders of both parties, it may be Obama’s last chance to salvage his signature issue.
The insurance rate proposal would give the federal Health and Human Services Department – in conjunction with state authorities – the power to deny egregious premium increases, roll them back, or demand rebates for consumers, said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity because details have not yet been officially released.
Recent premium hikes of as much as 39 percent sought by Anthem Blue Cross in California have given Obama a new argument for his sweeping health care remake, stalled in Congress since Democrats lost their 60th Senate seat in a special election last month in Massachusetts.
The proposal for tighter oversight of insurers is modeled on legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and will be part of a broader plan the White House plans to post on its Web site at 10 a.m. Monday, ahead of Thursday’s health care summit.
Obama’s latest plan is expected to require most Americans to carry health insurance coverage, with federal subsidies to help many afford the premiums. Hewing close to a stalled Senate bill, it would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more. A tax on high-cost health insurance plans objected to by House Democrats – and labor unions – would be scaled back. The expected price tag is around $1 trillion over 10 years.
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