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Begich proposes additional health care plans

Posted: November 20, 2013 - 10:43pm

JUNEAU — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has proposed creating a new tier of insurance policies with lower premiums under the federal health care law as a way to address affordability concerns.

The Alaska Democrat said his proposed “copper plans” would cover the services listed as essential health benefits under the law, and ensure at least half of medical costs are covered.

The five levels of plans available through online insurance marketplaces are bronze, silver, gold, platinum and catastrophic. Catastrophic plans have high deductibles and are available only to certain people, including those under 30, according to the federal website Platinum plans have higher premiums and cover 90 percent of expected costs, while bronze plans have lower monthly premiums but cover only 60 percent of average costs.

Begich said most of the plans being canceled because they don’t meet the law’s requirements cover about 40 percent of costs. In a letter to President Barack Obama this week, he said his plan would give Alaskans “access to comprehensive health plans closer to what some were purchasing prior to the law’s implementation.”

While offering lower premiums, the copper plan also would require higher out-of-pocket expenses. Begich told The Associated Press Wednesday there’s a need for more options. He said he had a sense this would be an issue, but that need has become more apparent now that people are enrolling in plans.

Begich, who is expected to face a tough re-election fight next year, has defended the health care law as helping to address what had been a broken health delivery system. But he also has supported a number of ideas aimed at making it better.

Last week he signed onto legislation from Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., which would allow people to keep their existing policies through 2015. Begich said his copper plan idea would build off that and offer a longer-term solution for people wanting more affordable coverage options while also helping ensure that risk pools are more balanced.

Begich also supported extending the open enrollment period to account for the rocky rollout of the federally run online exchanges. He said Wednesday his biggest concern there was making sure people weren’t penalized if they had trouble enrolling online. The White House pushed back from mid-February to March 31 the date by which people must sign up for insurance to avoid penalties under the law. Begich said he was satisfied with that, and with what he says have been significant improvements in the website since the Oct. 1 launch, he doesn’t see a need to extend open enrollment beyond the scheduled end of March 31.

In his letter dated Tuesday, Begich also urged Obama to consider proposals to allow for easier enrollment and comparison shopping on the exchanges. He asked that states like Alaska, which refused funding to set up their own marketplaces, have money made available to them to do so now.

Begich’s main Republican rivals for his seat — Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, Joe Miller and Dan Sullivan — see his proposals as too little to rescue what they see as a bad law.

“I believe we should come back to the idea of individual responsibility in health care,” Treadwell said. He said the law makes people pay for something they don’t need, amounts to a huge tax increase, and is beginning to subsidize large groups of people who weren’t asking for a subsidy. Treadwell also sees Begich’s support of Udall’s bill as Begich “scrambling to cover his record there.”

Miller, a tea party favorite during his 2010 run against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a fellow Republican, said he would support legislation “that increases patient choice and introduces true free market principles, which is the only real solution to controlling costs and increasing access to care.”

In a statement, he said Begich “has been on the exact wrong side of this issue since day one.”

Sullivan said Begich “is trying to fix the Obamacare train wreck with duct tape and Band-Aids.”

“None of Mark’s proposals would solve the problems that Obamacare has created for Alaskan families,” Sullivan said in a statement.

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fish907 11/21/13 - 07:01 pm
Great Idea Senator

Great idea Senator Begich. How does a higher deductible and copay make a plan more affordable? Must be the same math that you geniuses in government use when determining that raising the federal debt ceiling doesn't result in an increase of the federal debt. Brilliant.

dragonfly 11/22/13 - 04:11 am
Just How Stupid Do You The Voters Are Senator Begich?

Senator Begich it isn’t just the roll out of the website the entire ACA is unraveling. The president’s fix will increase premiums and several states are not going along with this. The fix would only be good until Oct. 2014 just before the midterm elections. Is that why you signed onto legislation that would allow people to keep their existing policies through 2015? Your plan would not begin to compensate the millions of people who are going to lose their employer group insurance. The president does not have the constitutional right to re-write the law even if he approved of your plan. Republicans voted for their congressional delegates to repeal Obamacare not to vote for a phony fix.

Let’s be honest Senator Begich it wasn't just the president lying about the ACA every one of the Democratic senators that are up for reelection lied in the most egregious way to their constituents and that include you. All twelve senators voted against Senator Mike Enzi's bill three years ago that would allow individuals to keep their health care plans. Not only did you ignore the warnings of Republicans but that of the CBO (congressional budget office) as well. The ACA which is a major piece of legislation that would affect every single American in a personal way and one sixth of our economy had absolutely no Republican input. It was passed with bribes and shady backroom deals. The original cost estimate has tripled.

It has already been proven in a brief by the DOJ that the president and Congress knew that millions of people would lose their health insurance. This was their ultimate goal and you either knew this or you are incompetent.

The latest report states that 5 million people have already lost their individual insurance plans. It is estimated that 50 to 100 million with employer based group health insurance plans will lose their coverage before the 2014 elections. Not only can’t you keep your health care insurance, and access to hospitals but you may lose your doctor as well.

Many voters now realize that the ACA was a way for Obama to redistribute wealth through health care. Where was your concern about the financial assault it would place on middle class American and the additional cost to taxpayers for government subsidies? The president now wants to add to this by giving the unions subsidies which will only add more of a burden on taxpayers. The highest percentage of those enrolling are signing up for Medicaid.

The Democrats have so little respect for the people that they launched Obamacare knowingly putting the private and personal information of those who signed up at risk of a security breach. This in itself is reprehensible. Not one computer experts testifying said that they would trust putting their personal information into the website and that it was never properly tested as it was being built.

Senator Begich you need to be held accountable and this is done at the ballot box.

The 2014 election is critical to the direction this country will take and all twelve of these senators need to be replaced by candidates that are worthy of our trust, respect the rights of individuals, are fiscally responsible and will uphold the U.S. Constitution.

The question voters need to ask is if the ACA collapses will the Democrats then force us into a one payer system of socialized medicine giving the government even more control of our healthcare where doctors and hospitals are forced to work for the government and healthcare is substandard and rationed.

If Republicans hold the majority in the House and a Republican president is elected in 2016 under the new Senate Rules it will only take 51 Senators to repeal Obamacare but it is more likely to collapse before then.

Raoulduke 11/22/13 - 05:25 am

I would say as far as politician voting.The majority of Alaskan's are at the Forrest Gump level.

Seafarer 11/23/13 - 03:06 pm
Tea Potty Talk

It simply amazes me how the tea despots listen to their gods, Beck and Lamebob, and then regurgitate exactly what they say! Have you sheep no minds of your own? Alaska used to be full of free thinkers, until the Pipeline brought in the low-brows. Now they want everything like they had at "home". Well, screw every one of you. At least Democrats are doing something, as opposed to rethuglicans doing nothing to help this country except whine and denigrate. Have you no fresh ideas that helps the masses? Are you so dedicated to your "club" you wouldn't help your neighbor? What has happened to your humanity?

I know where your humanity went: The almighty holy You would sell out your families if you could make a few bucks. You have already shown you can easily sell out your country. You can no longer be called Patriots. You would and have ruined lives with your despotism. All you care about is your idea club. Your ideas will bring America down...and you're doing it quite fast. Start thinking (or remembering) we are the UNITED STATES! Not what you have turned into the Divided States.

KenaiKardinal88 11/24/13 - 04:09 pm
Anchorage Liberal Begich Should Resign

Begich votes with Obama all the time. Obamacare is a disaster. Only 100% repeal is in order. Unless Begich votes for 100% repeal, then he should be voted out of office.

Begich is only in office because of the lies about Ted Stevens.

Raoulduke 11/25/13 - 09:20 am

KK88-You probably DO NOT,or will not remember.Ted Stevens ADMITTED his OWN GUILT.

Kenai4life 11/25/13 - 10:27 pm
Treadwell 2014!

Begich sealed his fate the day he voted for Obamacare, and reenforced his demise when he stood by as Obama and crew lied to us all. Ranting about the tea party and the bully GOP is simply an attempt to distract from what's truly going on in DC.

He's done!

beckster 12/02/13 - 10:17 pm
Talk is cheap

Well done is better than well said. - Benjamin Franklin

AnyoneButBegich 2014

Raoulduke 12/03/13 - 08:51 am
D.C. happenings

I would look no farther than Juneau,and would find the same political CORRUPTION. Some people claim you need to travel as far as Washington D.C. to find.PETRO-POLITIC'S=CORRUPTION period.Keep voting for the rehashed politician's,and there will be CHANGE.No there won't! You get to keep the status quo.You remember the Pledge Signing,Country Shutdown,Legislature,and Super Committee Obstructionist TRAITORS.

beaverlooper 12/03/13 - 05:48 pm
At least Begich got elected.

Of all the people who have been sent to the U.S. congress since statehood,besides the original 3, only 2 have been elected to their 1st term .Begich and a crooked banker ,the first Murkowski. Murkowski was the bigger idiot. As Raoulduke says " stupid is as stupid does".

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