Well, the Senate Finance Committee has finally come forward with a health reform proposal. Senator Baucus (D-Montana) has done so without any Republican support. Let’s see what we have here.
(1) Individual mandate – we agree; we have argued for this from day one as it places responsibility on the individual and we think that is a good idea. It has been our position (see ‘details of the plan’) that business should be removed from the health insurance equation all together.
(2) Government insurance plan, option, trigger, etc. – we have felt from day one that this is a non-starter. We already have two government options for the poor and the elderly (Medicaid and Medicare). We do not need a third government bureaucracy dealing with health insurance or health care. The ‘public plan’, ‘co-ops’, and the like should all be scrapped.
(3) Competition – all barriers to inter-state sale of health insurance should be removed so that complete competition and de-regulation of the health insurance market can be accoplished.
(4) Employer Contribution – this plan calls for a subsidy payment if businesses with more than 50 employees do not offer health coverage. We continue to feel that business should have this burden removed totally and that individuals should be solely responsible for obtaining and maintaining health insurance coverage.
(5) Health Insurance Exchange – not sure that this really offers any great advantages over the general market, especially if interstate barriers to sales of all health insurance products were allowed. In the end though, this brings us to the issue of tax payer subsidized insurance for illegals immigrants. While the House bill and this bill say it, there is NOT sufficient explanation regarding how VERIFICATION will take place. Without definitive verification of citizenship, statements of this type are meaningless.
(6) Costs to Government (read U.S. Taxpayers) – this bill is estimated to cost some $774 billion over 10 years according to the GAO; they indicate that this will be offset by fees and taxes, mostly on health insurance companies. However, with some control of premiums. this is essentially a pass through tax to the American tax payer. Why? Because health insurers will simply pass on the costs in their premium structure of these fees and taxes.
(7) Insurance Regulation – Supposedly prohibits higher premiums; doubtful as there is no way the industry can absorb $774 billion + in new costs without premium adjustments, even if we assume that there is a good deal of ‘fat’ in health insurance company pockets. This is not realistic.
(8) Denial based on health history – we have proposed from day one that federal legislation prohibit any type of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions; health, medical, or surgical history; as well as prevent any company from dropping coverage for a beneficiary if he or she was or became ill.
(9) Expansion of Medicaid – this is desirable only to a point in that it creates a mandate for state participation; various states may or may not be able to financially meet the goals of this provision and therefore, the threshold for use must be carefully assessed.
(10) Meaningful Tort Reform – without this, there can be no Real Health Reform. As long as physicians are forced to practice defensive medicine, getting a hold on costs will be difficult. The Democrats, as is well known, are tied hand and foot to the trial lawyers. They must find a way to break out of that enslavement and do the right thing. States with mandatory review panels, caps on pain and suffering awards and arbitration panels are leading the way. The feds should follow suit.
. . . obi jo
The unveiling of a compromise health care proposal has Senate Democrats pondering a daunting mathematical challenge: how to keep all 59 Democrats united and attract at least one Republican to pass an overhaul measure.
In trying to reach critical mass for legislative success, advocates of health care overhaul face an extremely delicate balancing act. With the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Democrats control 59 seats, meaning they need at least one Republican to join them if they are to proceed without employing a procedural shortcut that could cause havoc in the Senate.
Given the steep climb toward 60, Senate Democratic leaders have begun to make another argument to lawmakers. They are pressing colleagues to vote with the party on procedural matters related to health care legislation and against any filibuster — a 60-vote issue — even if they intend to oppose the measure in the end when simple majority rules.
Democrats in Senate Reach for 60 Votes on Health Care Overhaul – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/health/policy/17vote.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&
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