Klobuchar, Franken provisions included in Obama health care plan

Two of the biggest legislative priorities for Minnesota Democrats like Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz aren’t anywhere to be found in the summary text of the White House health care plan released this morning, an omission that caused quite a few jitters on Capitol Hill. However, administration officials confirmed this afternoon that both provisions are indeed included in President Obama’s plan.

Linda Douglass, director of communications for the White House Office of Health Reform, said in a media conference call this morning that the Senate’s health care plan was the basis of the administration’s plan. Officials later said anything from the Senate’s plan not specifically addressed in the 11-page summary should be assumed to be included.

One of those omissions in text (but that remains included in President Obama’s plan) was a provision that includes a quality-of-care value index as part of the Medicare reimbursement formula.

Currently, high-value medical providers like the Mayo Clinic in Rochester can receive far less money than hospitals in Texas or Florida for performing the same procedures, despite having far better patient outcomes. The so-called value index would attempt to change that, by giving more money to providers who deliver better results at a lower cost.

Officials said Franken’s medical loss ratio amendment, which would require 85 percent of health care insurance premiums on large group plans to be spent on actual medical costs, is also included in the administration’s proposal despite not being featured in the text. The requirement for small and individual plans would be 80 percent.

Both those provisions were included in the Senate’s health care bill, which passed that body on Christmas Eve.

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