Quick View of the Current Status of Health Care Reform

Sen. Ron Wyden and Sherrod Brown are both working hard for a strong
public option.  They are interviewed here but beware the rethuglican
ODOR (Obstruction, Delay, Obstacles, Roadblocks)

From MoveOn.org:  The health care debate has so
many moving parts that it’s hard for anybody to keep them straight. So
we decided to put together an overview of where we’re at–both good and
bad–and what we’re all going to need to keep fighting for.

Neither of these bills is close to perfect. But we’re entering the
home stretch where we risk losing a lot of what’s good in these bills
and where we have a huge opportunity to strengthen the parts that need
work.
Here’s where we are:

The House of Representatives passed their bill last month. The Senate is aiming to pass its version before Christmas.

Overall, both pieces of legislation would do four major things:

    * Create a "Health Insurance Exchange." The bills create a
one-stop marketplace where people can choose from various insurance
plans, including the public option. The details aren’t set yet, but
initially the Exchange would likely be open to the self-employed,
people without insurance at work, and small businesses.1 The key with
the Exchange is that it brings "the bargaining power and scale that’s
generally accessible only to large employers" to individuals–and with
that, lower costs and better options.2

    * Provide insurance to over 30 million more people. The House
bill would expand coverage to 36 million people by 2019. The Senate
bill extends coverage to 31 million.3

    * Outlaw discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and
gender. Insurance companies will have to stop denying coverage to
people with "pre-existing conditions." And they won’t be allowed to
charge women more than men for the same coverage.4

    * Eliminate coverage limits and price-gouging. The bills differ
on some details, but in general would place limits on how much people
have to pay for health care beyond their premiums. They both cap
out-of-pocket costs and ban insurance companies from setting limits on
how much health care they’ll cover for a person each year.5

Of course, the devil is in the details, and much in these bills still needs work.
Here’s what still needs to be fixed:

    * Both bills leave millions uninsured. The House bill leaves 18
million without insurance in 2019; the Senate bill, 24 million. Neither
comes close to the vision for universal coverage so many of us fought
for for years. We’ll all need to fight to continue to expand coverage
in the bills this year, and in the years to come.6

    * The Senate public option is weak, and conservatives are
pushing to make it weaker. The public option is a core piece of reform
that will create real accountability and competition for private
insurance–and that’s why it’s at the center of such a huge fight.
While the House bill creates a national public option, the Senate lets
states opt out, denying their residents access to it. Plus,
conservatives are working to weaken it even more. We’re all going to
have to fight hard for the strongest version possible.7

    * Many reforms don’t start quickly enough. While some pieces of
reform go into effect right away, the larger structural changes are not
scheduled to go into effect until 2013 (House bill) or 2014 (Senate
bill). This includes the Exchange, the public option, and
subsidies–the major ways coverage will be expanded.8

    * Required insurance could still be too expensive for many.
Both bills require virtually all Americans to have insurance. But the
caps on how much we’re expected to pay are way too high, and the
subsidies are way too low. Many progressives are working to fix this,
but it’s going to be a significant fight.9

    * Reproductive rights are severely restricted in the House
bill. An egregious anti-choice amendment in the bill virtually
prohibits anyone purchasing insurance in the Exchange from buying a
plan that covers abortion–even if paid for with their own money. We
need to make sure the final bill doesn’t include this rollback of
reproductive rights.10

    * The Senate bill could discriminate against lower income
workers. The current Senate legislation retains a version of what’s
called the "free rider" provision, which essentially penalizes
employers for hiring lower income workers. This provision needs to be
fixed before the bill is finalized.11

There’s a lot going on in these bills, and we’re all going to need
to be vigilant to ensure the good pieces end up in the final bill, and
the bad ones are fixed. It’s going to be a rocky ride. But if we fight
together, we’ll come out stronger in the end.

P.S. Check out more about the House bill here and the Senate bill here or here, and see what the impact of reform would be in your state here. If you want to read the full bills, for the House, click here or here (PDF), and for the Senate, here or here (PDF).

Sources:

1.  "A Health Insurance Exchange: The Fine Print," The New York Times, August 20, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5241&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=3

"Health Reform at a Glance: The Health Insurance Exchange,"  House
Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and
Labor, July 14, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5665&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=4

2. "Health Insurance Exchanges: The Most Important, Undernoticed Part of Health Reform," The Washington Post, June 16, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5664&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=5

3. "H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 20, 2009
http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?inde

x=10741

"Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 18, 2009
http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?inde

x=10731

4. "Top 10 Ways Health Insurance Reform Works for You," The Speaker of the House, October 29, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5669&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=6

"How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Your Family," Senate Democratic Policy Committee
http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdo

c-responsiblereform.cfm

"Meeting Women’s Health Care Needs," The Speaker of the House
http://www.speaker.gov/news

room/legislation?id=0327

"Reports on Health Insurance Reform–Women," Senate Democratic Policy Committee
http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdo

c-responsiblereform.cfm

5. "Top 10 Ways Health Insurance Reform Works for You," The Speaker of the House, October 29, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5669&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=7

"How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Your Family," Senate Democratic Policy Committee
http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdo

c-responsiblereform.cfm

6. "H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 20, 2009
http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?inde

x=10741

"Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 18, 2009
http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?inde

x=10731

"REPORT: How the Senate Bill Compares to Other Reform Legislation," Think Progress, November 19, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5670&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=8

7. "Sen. Reid Announces ‘Opt Out’ Public Plan," The New York Times, October 26, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5673&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=9

"Carper: Conservative Democrats Not Likely To Support Senate Public Option," Talking Points Memo, November 17, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5675&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=10

8. "Top 14 Provisions That Take Effect Immediately," The Speaker of the House
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5676&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=11

"What happens before 2014?" The Washington Post, November 19, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5677&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=12

"Senate, House Democratic health bills compared," The Associated Press, November 18, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5667&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=13

9. "The Details of The New Merged Senate Bill," Think Progress, November 18, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5668&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=14

"REPORT: How the Senate Bill Compares to Other Reform Legislation," Think Progress, November 19, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5670&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=15

"Analysis: How the Senate health care bill stacks up with the House health care bill," Think Progress, November 19, 2009
http://thinkprogress.org/20

09/11/19/senate-house-compa

rison/

10. "The Ban on Abortion Coverage," The New York Times, November 9, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009

/11/10/opinion/10tue1.html

11. "The noxious ‘free rider’ provision," The Washington Post, November 25, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5671&id=18172-9225915-B

AcDFFx&t=16

"Senate Health Bill Improves Employer Responsibility Provision," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, November 19, 2009
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/ind

ex.cfm?fa=view&id=3003

"The Baucus Bill: The Worst Policy in the Bill, and Possibly in the World," The Washington Post, September 16, 2009
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8

5672&id=18172-9225915-B

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About ItheMissingLink

Longshoreman at the Port of Seattle. US Navy veteran 9 patrol FBM nuclear submarines
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