Health Overhaul The Battle Continues

Health care fight still rages

By ALAN FRAM (AP) 

WASHINGTON — The fight over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul hasn’t ended, it’s simply shifted to a wider arena.

All sorts of special interests — business, labor, medical, consumer and ideological — are now focused on how the new law shaping the nation’s health care system will be carried out. They’re also turning lawmakers’ votes into ammunition for this year’s congressional campaigns and beyond.

It all shows how lobbying grinds on, well after Congress has spoken on an issue.

Supporters and opponents alike hope to influence the drafting of regulations to implement the 2,500-plus pages of health care legislation. Agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services are in the early stages of writing those rules, a process that can take months or even years.

“If people don’t like the outcome in Congress, they have another bite at it at the agency, to try to alter the rules so they’re more favorable to their policy point of view,” said Jim Burroughs, a public policy professor at George Mason University.

Among the anxious players:

_ Health insurers want to protect their bottom lines as the government creates new insurance pools this year for people with serious medical problems. Later, they’ll focus on state exchanges where insurers will compete to sell policies to consumers beginning in 2014. Their concerns range from the legal documents insurers will need to provide customers to specific definitions of who will qualify for the programs.

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