The vote on Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Act, HR 2 ( full text here ) takes place in the House of Representatives today.
According to most pundits and some members of the House themselves, the bill will fail. Even if it succeeds in the House, they say, the Senate will defeat it and if somehow it squeaks through the upper chamber, President Barack Obama will veto it.
I have no reason to doubt this is so and I'm not going to ask you to email or call your Congress person because I'll be doing a lot of that in the future and it wouldn't affect the vote of most Republicans and those 80-odd, newly-elected tea partiers. Hating Obamacare is a bedrock belief of theirs even if they know the vote is only symbolic. This time.
Instead, I want to remind us all that although Obamacare is a disappointment in many respects, the improvements that are contained in it are important to many Americans of all ages. Among the new provisions:
FOR PEOPLE TOO YOUNG FOR MEDICARE
• No lifetime cap on essential medical benefits
• Annual spending caps are now restricted and will be eliminated in 2014
• Insurers may no longer drop policyholders when they get sick
• Children can remain on their parents' policies until age 26
• Except in some grandfathered categories, children under age 19 may no longer be excluded for pre-existing conditions. Adults will be added to this provision in 2014.
• No copays or deductibles may be applied to Level A and B preventive care and medical screenings in new policies
Really now, what can account for anyone wanting to repeal these rules? First, they are the moral and right thing to do. Second, they ought always to have been part of the bargain we make with insurance companies.
Insurance of any kind, by definition, is a gamble. I have never liked that I'm betting against myself but better to pay than lose my home, car or my health care with no recourse.
And the gamble on the insurance companies' part is only fair. Sometimes they win and make a lot of money (so far in life, I've paid out many times over what I've collected), and sometimes they lose.
What is not fair, as we have lived with for decades, is stacking the deck against insureds with, I might add, the consent of government. Obamacare just levels the odds, if only a little, and prevents some of what can only be called cheating by the insurance industry.
FOR MEDICARE RECIPIENTS
• Copays and deductibles for preventive services and some screenings are eliminated
• A free, annual health examination has been added
• Some relief for people who fall into the “donut hole” in Part D, prescription drug coverage reducing costs to individuals up to $1800 a year
• Certain primary care physicians will receive a 10 percent increase in payment for services to Medicare patients
There are more detailed explanations of these changes at this pos t.
Here's what bothers me about this bill being voted on in the House today: it's just nasty. What kind of person wants children (or anyone) to be denied health care because they can't afford it? At least two people in Arizona have died recently because that state eliminated payment for organ transplants to Medicaid beneficiaries. Two people who, likely, would otherwise still be living.
What kind of person would have a physician say to a patient, “Well, we're halfway through your cancer treatment, but we are stopping now because your insurance company will not pay anymore”?
What kind of person thinks it is a good idea – or even legal (let alone moral) - to allow an insurance company to not pay its gambling debt by canceling a policy when an insured gets sick? That's not allowed even in a Las Vegas casino.
Are these really the kind of people we want representing us in Washington? Apparently so for a lot voters.
As measured by standard medical benchmarks, somehow all other developed countries provide better health care to all their citizens for approximately half the cost per person as the U.S. spends.
That “somehow” is simple to explain: in those countries, everyone – from birth to death – is covered in the same risk pool. Some people make it from cradle to grave with hardly any health care costs. Others use a lot of the system. It balances out.
There is a reason Medicare costs are soaring; the risk pool contains only the oldest and, therefore, more of the sickest people in the country. Medicare for All would solve this problem.
There is a reason we don't have Medicare for All; the government is controlled by big business, in this case the entire medical community of insurance, pharmaceutical and medical device companies who take home astronomical profits each year.
We don't have a health care problem in the U.S. We have a business/government problem. Until the billions of business money is removed from elections, reasonable health care hasn't a chance in our nation.