Health Reform Demands That Lawmakers Read the Bills
(c) Dana Summers
4 details you and your congressman need to know about pending healthcare reform legislation
It would have bordered on legislative malpractice for the House to have rushed to pass its bill last week as its leadership hoped to do, considering that most members still have not read the 1,017-pager, known as H.R. 3200.
Now a slew of negative TV spots are asking lawmakers, "Have you read the bill?"
Good idea; maybe the public should, too. The August recess is the perfect time for both legislators and the public to do this required summer reading.
Reading H.R. 3200 is not like curling up with
Here are just four things that promise to radically change some people's health experiences -- and everyone's relationship with the government--even if you are now among the happily insured.
Health choices commissioner
The commissioner of health choices would ensure that deadbeats who did not seek out insurance would be randomly assigned to an exchange plan or to an expanded version of
Recommendations for the essential benefits your insurance would cover, which would change with new knowledge and technology, would
rest largely with the secretary of health and human services'
This will be a tough job, as we've already seen during the recent dust-up
Defining essential health benefits will figure into the real long-term cost of health reform.
With new advances and an aging population, costs could easily swell beyond the trillion dollars the Congressional Budget Office calculates. Or costs -- and patients' options -- could shrink if the defined essential benefits constrain coverage of more-expensive services. Costs to individuals could in turn rise if they chose to pay on their own.
The commissioner of health choices would perform random and targeted audits of health plans across the country and fine or shut down any that flunk federal requirements. And American citizens found lacking in federally acceptable insurance would be fined 2.5 percent of their income for that period, up to the cost of the national average premium.
That does not mean companies could not decide to cancel what are otherwise unacceptable plans.
In the House bill, companies would have to cover workers with federally compliant plans or pay the feds 8 percent of any payroll
Money from the young and the old
One squeeze on the young: H.R. 3200 legislates that they pay premiums that are no less than half of what older people would pay. Now, kids out of school can buy health policies for a small fraction of what their parents can, but that won't be allowed.
The bill adds a new benefit to
Offered free every five years, or more frequently if the patient has a chronic, progressive, life-limiting, or terminal disease or is in a nursing home, it gives beneficiaries information about living wills and a range of end-of-life services like palliative and hospice care.
Some might say this is a not-so-subtle response to the fact that
As any doctor knows, patients surprise you all the time. Giving up on them calls for pretty sound and well-informed judgment.
And that is what we want of our lawmakers.
Before they cast what will be historic votes expected in the fall, I'd suggest that each member take a proctored, multiple-choice test on these bills, with their grades posted on the Web.
Those who flunk, step aside.
The United States does have the best healthcare available in the world, but only for the people who can afford it.
That does not translate to having the best healthcare system in the world. Understanding this difference is key. One can say that a Ferrari
or Porsche is the best car in the world, but it doesn't help anyone who is not driving one of these unaffordable cars. Let us all understand
that the "best" stuff is not available to everyone, and that is exactly the point of this reform.
Comment by Mike C. of TX
Social Security and Medicare are government programs that are broken.
Politicians have been dipping into these accounts since their inception. But what they have shown us is that they cannot manage our money.
In case they haven't noticed we are in a recession and people have lost jobs and are having a hard time finding new ones because there is no incentive for business to grow or expand.
It's quite the opposite with all that is going on between national healthcare and cap-and-trade. The incentives are being offered overseas, not in this country. No one is in business not to make money and they will uproot and take off before the government soaks every last penny from them.
This is about government control and the only ones that will be the losers are American citizens.
Comment by Sue of IL
The particulars of healthcare reform are irrelevant. What matters is the cost of $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
The country is in a deep recession and there is not a trillion dollars available for new spending. It makes about as much sense as an
individual that is out of work thinking it is a great time to buy a new home. Increasing taxes to pay for this extraordinary spending will
have nothing but negative economic consequences and must be avoided.
Comment by Bill Weronko of IL
I am wealthy and with the best health insurance money can buy. I will probably pay additional taxes to subsidize universal health insurance with a public option.
Why do I want universal health insurance?
Because there is nothing special about me that justifies me having good reliable health coverage while others don't. Because every man, woman, and child should know that they are not alone if they have to battle serious illness. Because it is the right thing to do.
Why do I want the public insurance option?
Because with it the number of people involved in government health insurance programs will allow the government to bargain for less
expensive quality health services. That will bring the cost of healthcare down.
Comment by Janet of VA
The American Medical Association has long desired to maintain rationed healthcare in order to keep supply shorter than demand.
While physicians deserve to be rewarded for work, let's not pretend that the current system is a "free market" system.
Insurers, providers, and practitioners collude to keep prices high, deny coverage to tens of millions of Americans, and force citizens literally into bankruptcy at the first illness.
The current blood money system must be destroyed.
A new system that provides basic and emergency needs must be made available to all citizens. Healthcare is rightfully a national
responsibility. The only people who wish to ration it are those whose pockets are lined by this artificial shortage.
Comment by Tony R. of NC
It is always those who have health insurance (at least today) who oppose others having access.
It is interesting to see the importance of an "insider" for so many Americans. To be an insider there must be those who are outsiders.
Kind of like immigration. Those who are Europe's descendants and hell bent on keeping others out -- even those who were born on this
continent both the north end and the south end. Maybe more of Congress needs to be replaced for not having the backbone to do what is in
the country's best interest.
Comment by Christine of MD
Not Enough Healthcare to Go Around
by Michael D. Tanner
We tend to talk about healthcare in the philosophically abstract. "Is healthcare a right or a privilege?" goes the refrain. In reality, it is neither. Healthcare is a commodity -- and a finite one at that. There are only so many doctors, hospitals, and, most important, money to go around. ...
Healthcare Reform's Effect on You
by Bernadine Healy M.D.
Some elements might change before a final healthcare bill is in hand, but enough common threads have emerged for people to look beyond the headlines for an idea of how the new healthcare system will affect them personally. For starters, consider these seven ways in which your healthcare experience is apt to change ...
Lack of Competition in Healthcare Insurance Market
by Kent Garber
Should healthcare reform include an option for Americans to buy insurance from the government? President Obama has made it a priority, arguing that a government plan would make the insurance market more competitive and help lower costs. Republicans aggressively oppose this, asserting that a public plan would all but destroy the private market.
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Health Reform Demands That Lawmakers Read the Bills: 4 details you and your congressman need to know about health reform
(c) 2009 U.S. News & World Report