News digest: Health reform, its impact, and stubborn unemployment


Health care repeal gains ground.

The U.S. House voted 245-189 Wednesday evening to repeal the health care reform legislation, but what Republicans might offer as an alternative remains a question, The Wall Street Journal reported. Any proposals, according to House Speaker John Boehner, would be common-sense reforms that bring down the cost of health insurance for the American people and expand access to it, the article reported. The repeal is not likely to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate, the New York Times reported.

 Small business impact.

 A repeal of health reform would impact small businesses, said John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority, in a release. The repeal would cost them nearly $2.4 trillion in health-care costs and 178,000 jobs over the next 10 years, he said. Repealing the (Act) would send America 28 million small businesses back into a system that drains their coffers and threatens their ability to compete, he said.

After reform, health insurers report profits.

Watch for health insurers fourth-quarter reports  to offer a sign that health care reform isn’t hurting profits, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. New requirements, such as extending coverage to dependents up to age 26, offering more coverage of preventive services, and eliminating lifetime limits kicked in during the fourth quarter of 2010 and were expected to push up costs for insurers. But research from Goldman Sachs  suggests insurers will achieve double-digit profit growth because, despite the new rules, patient claims are down,  the article reported .

 Unemployment a stubborn issue, as Rockford can attest.

 With an unemployment rate of about 16 percent — one of the highest in the nation — Rockford was a centerpiece of a New York Times Sunday magazine feature by White House correspondent Peter Baker.  The interactive article presented data that President Obama will likely discuss during the State of the Union address next week: The economy added 1.1 million jobs in 2010 and is growing at 2.6 percent currently. The cost of TARP will likely be $28 billion, not the $700 billion originally expected. But the unemployment rate has hovered above 9 percent for 20 straight months.  When the underemployed or those who have given up looking for jobs are factored in, the rate rises to nearly 17 percent, the article reported.

 — Compiled by Hallie Busta