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New health insurance rules issued

The Obama administration Tuesday issued new regulations to protect Americans from the insurance industry as the president challenged Republicans who are trying to repeal his health care overhaul.

"They want to go back to the system we had before," Obama said. "I refuse to go back."

The insurance rules, all of which are set out in the new law, were put in the bill to provide consumers with early protections until the insurance market is more fully overhauled in 2014. The regulations include the following:

*With some exceptions, insurance plans after September will no longer be able to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.

*Insurers will not be able to rescind coverage except in clear cases of fraud.

*They will be prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on what they will pay for care.

*Insurers will not be able to impose annual limits of less than $750,000 on coverage of essential benefits including maternity care, emergency services and pharmaceuticals.

*And insurers will be prohibited from requiring their customers to get prior approval before they get emergency care outside the provider network.

Employer-provided plans that do not make major changes to their benefits or dramatically increase cost-sharing with employees will be exempt from some of these new mandates as "grandfathered" plans.

Administration officials estimated that as many as 200,000 children and adults could benefit from the new protections, not counting several million who could gain easier access to emergency care, according to an analysis accompanying the proposed new rules.

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