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Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform 2010

Well, as most of you know by now, the House has passed the much publicized "health care reform" bill.
 Of course there is still a long way to go before it becomes official.
The House passed a revised version of last year's Senate bill. The Senate will now need to sign off on those changes. (i.e. another round with Republicans in the now-filibusterable Senate. Thank you Mr. Brown).

------------Read on for more info and opinion------------

Now let's see what kind of good this bill can accomplish.

Some highlights:

• Total out-of-pocket expenses would be limited, and insurance companies would be prevented from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurers would be barred from canceling coverage for sick people, as well as charging higher premiums based on a person's gender or medical history.
[This is a big step forward to controlling costs and expanding coverage to those who need it most. Let's be honest, it's when you're sick and needing care that you really care about health care and its costs, not when you're healthy.]

• New health insurance subsidies would be provided to families of four making up to $88,000 annually, or 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
[Another step to making it universal and affordable.]

• The Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole" would be closed by 2020. Under current law, Medicare stops covering drug costs after a plan and beneficiary have spent more than $2,830 on prescription drugs. It starts paying again after an individual's out-of-pocket expenses exceed $4,550.
[Fixing something that probably shouldn't have existed in the first place.]

And some of the bad:

• The Medicare tax would be imposed on investment income for individuals making over $200,000 and couples making over $250,000.
[I have always been against anything that taxes the rich to pay for the poor. Why should hard-workers be punished for doing their job well? (I do not consider bankers/finance-related personnel part of this category. I believe their earnings far exceed the value they add to society. But that's a discussion for another post).
Yes, I do believe in a tax-bracket system. In theory, yes the rich can "afford" to pay more, but I do not agree with the amount we are all taxed. (Example: If you make between $35,001 and $80,000 per year, you pay 30% of your income to the US government. Add that to state income taxes, sales tax, property tax, gains tax, among dozens others, the average American is giving half their salary away).]

• A 40 percent tax would be imposed on insurance companies providing "Cadillac" health plans valued at more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax would kick in starting in 2018.
[Similar to above, but instead of earning what I want, am I not allowed to spend it on what I want either? Sure, luxury taxes can be imposed (we already have them on cars, real estate, etc. and even the ridiculous 'sugar tax' was a form of this), but 40% on something that is a "right not a privilege", paying more up front to provide when you actually need it? I don't know about you, but if I was able to, I would rather rely on my on my own funds than expect the government to take care of me (see: Social Security).]

• Illegal immigrants would not be allowed to buy health insurance in the health insurance exchanges.
[Also just my belief, but I welcome any immigrant that wants to work hard and make a living in this country. And I would rather those people pay for health care, than have them get sick and have to pay for their care anyway. Or worse yet, they forgo treatment for fear of falling in debt (very possible), not being able to care for their families (also possible, especially if you're in debt), or being deported. (Memo me: another entry on immigration).]

• According to a preliminary estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation would cost $940 billion over the course of a decade.
[We have to keep a watchful eye out on spending. This can be true for all government spending, (yet another side post?), but specifically health care. As with any budget, numbers can be manipulated to promote a certain view and I also have doubts that Congress has the restraint to stay within its stated budget. The proposed cost is also reliant on several tax increases which may/may not actually pass in the future; especially if conservatives gain more seats as predicted in the coming mid-term elections.]
(via a whole bunch of CNN, CNN, BBC)

Overall, I think this was a step in the right direction, (I don't think anyone, regardless of their political affiliation, can tell you health care reform is not needed) but it is truly just a small step in the long road ahead.

I see several major factors blocking future reform:
1) Republicans. They must work with Democrats on future reform. They are known as a party of 'no' and, thus far, rightly so. Health care is needed. Promote your own ideas and participate in discussion.
2) Democrats. They must also include Reps. No more closed-door meetings, side-deals, or elitism in thinking they know 'what the people want'. President Obama, our champion of change, must continue lead the way in this. Righting decades of 'Washington politics' won't be easy, but I think the people of America are tired of it and will further stimulate its transformation (hopefully by voting for independent voices that will fight for their constituents causes and not simply vote along party lines).
3) The American people. Yes, you America! Please inform yourselves about the issues!
As with most things, I believe education is key. Actually knowing what is going on is important for Americans to support further legislation. No, this bill is not a government takeover of health care. (Yes, the GOP promoted this thinking. Politicians need to stop lying, but that is the least likely thing to happen on this list so I will not even consider it for a #4).

I could continue, but I'm tired of writing, and I'd be surprised if half of you even made it all the way to the end.

In summary:
Health care bill- mostly good. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor- bad. Doubts on government being able to keep costs low (not blowing up the deficit) and having the tenacity to further build upon this legislation and get health care to be truly universal and affordable.

Post in the comments if you want to partake in discussion!
(Or if you wish to insult my point of view... but I'd prefer the former).

Also, I just thought this site was funny:
"The morning after the House voted to pass a landmark health care reform bill opposed by all Republicans the GOP had a new goal in its sights: Fire Nancy Pelosi."

"This morning if you were to go to the GOP Web site, you are redirected to the site http://www.firenancypelosi.com/ which shows the House speaker in front of a background of flames and tells donors that if Republicans take 40 seats from the Democrats in November it means "No More Madam Speaker.""

1 comment:

choosum said...

what if they just go ahead and...hire kristen wiig!