Governor Tom Vilsack proposes new regulations for insurance companies, regulations Vilsack says would help make health insurance coverage more affordable for very small businesses. And the Governor also wants to force small business to provide health care coverage to all employees, or none at all, as some businesses today cover some but not all of their workers. Vilsack says loopholes are being used by some employers to “cherry-pick” which workers get insurance. He says that means the number of covered workers shrinks, and it raises insurance rates as a result.”We hope this is the beginning of a discussion and a debate in the legislature that will lead hopefully to more help and assistance,” Vilsack says. Another Vilsack proposal will forbid insurance companies from rating companies based on the number of employees in businesses with fewer than 10 workers. Instead, insurance rates would have to be based on the health of the workers.State Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss. Voss says she’s hearing that insurance companies often base the premium rates for very small businesses based on what may happen in the future with the four or five workers, not what sort of health they’ve had in the past. Vilsack says he’s optimistic legislators will act on these proposals since health care was a big issue in the 2004 campaign. “This is a specific opportunity for legislators to go on record to help small businesses, to make them more competitive,” Vilsack says. The state’s Insurance Division is exploring ways to open state-run plans which provide health care coverage to Iowans who cannot get private insurance, hoping it might help some Iowans get cheaper rates by expanding the number of people in the special system. Vilsack talked about the health care issue this morning (Monday) during a news conference staged at a business in Des Moines that employs 10. “We are taking several steps to make it a little bit easier for small companies and small businesses in the state of Iowa to purchase health care insurance,” Vilsack said. The democratic governor’s ideas must be endorsed by a legislature that’s narrowly divided between democrats and republicans. Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a republican from Dows, says he’s willing to review Vilsack’s ideas. Iverson says he’s a little bit hestitant to force insurance companies to change the way they calculate premiums for small businesses, but Iverson says he’s willing to consider the idea. Senate Co-President Jeff lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, agrees. Lamberti says legislators are willing to look at anything that would make health insurance more affordable and more accessible.
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