Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Senate Is about to Pass Health Care! Should We Be Saying Merry Christmas or Bah Humbug?

Due to some last minute changes in the Senate health care bill, most Progressive Democrats, including Howard Dean, (see my previous post " Howard Dean Says Kill the Bill! " )  have reversed their position and decided to reluctantly support the new Senate health care legislation.  I must admit however, I'm still a bit skeptical and as reports there are still many unresolved issues. 

The Senate bill would:

#1—Deny Americans the choice of a public option. In contrast, the House bill contains a national public option, the key to real competition, greater choice, and lower costs.

#2—Leave insurance unaffordable for some lower income and working people. Both bills require virtually all Americans to buy insurance. But even with the subsidies provided, some families could have to pay up to 20% of their income on health care expenses.

#3—Impose dangerous restrictions on women's reproductive health care. Unfortunately, both bills do this and the House provision is worse. Both versions would be a dangerous step and neither should be in the final bill.

#4—Tax American workers' health coverage to pay for reform. The Senate would pay for part of reform by taxing the hard-won benefits packages of some working Americans. The House, on the other hand, pays for reform with a small surcharge on only the wealthiest Americans—a far better approach I think.

#5—Allow insurance companies to remain exempt from anti-trust laws. Under current law, insurance companies are actually exempt from laws designed to prevent monopolies and price-gouging. The House bill would fix this, but the Senate bill leaves it in place.

Of course, these aren't the only problems with the bill. Most glaringly, both the Senate and House bill would leave millions uninsured,  a far cry from the vision of universal coverage so many of us have fought for.

Additionally, this latest version of the bill does nothing to rectify the "Health Factor" (a.k.a. previous existing conditions) issue as well as some of the other problems I've addressed previously. When the bill goes to committee, hopefully the House and Senate leadership, as well as the White House will get the message and rectify these key outstanding issues immediately.  But I'm not counting on it. As I said before, I'm unfortunately, still very skeptical of this bill.

As far as Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska is concerned,  making  "Backroom Deals"  is not the kind of  "Change " I was hoping for.  Nor is it the kind of   "Change"  I can believe in.

                                    And as far as Senator Joe Lieberman is concerned...

Democrats should have called his bluff and let him filibuster!

 - Just Thinking...

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