The Senate has passed its health care reform bill. Now a
House-Senate Conference Committee will be convened to attempt to
hammer out one bill from the Senate and House versions. The final
product will probably look more like the Senate bill.
I’m not happy with it because it allows the health insurance
industry to continue its death grip on our nation’s health care
system. I don’t understand why conservatives insist on protecting
the health insurance industry. In the first place the health
insurance industry does not provide any health care. None. Zip.
Zero. Instead it siphons off billions from the system for profits
and obscene executive pay. In the second place we have the added
burden of insurance bureaucrats looking over the shoulders of
doctors and making life and death decisions as to who is going to be
treated, based on the profit motive. And then we have the added
expense of insurance company paperwork.
It would be far simpler and more effective to cut the insurance
companies out of the mix altogether and put everyone under Medicare.
Oh, you say, Medicare is going broke and adding 30 million more
people to the system will break the bank. Not so fast! Let’s do a
little thinking here. Who does Medicare now insure? Only people over
the age of 65. Who are the people who are likely to need more
medical care? People over the age of 65. By bringing in the young
people Medicare would be more like an insurance company with
everyone paying premiums. I think a premium of $400 to $500 per
month for those under the age of 65 would cover everyone. It
wouldn’t be free and it shouldn’t be. But it would be a heck of a
lot better than shelling out $13,000 per year for health insurance.
However, that’s not going to happen. The conservatives have seen
to it that the health insurance industry will be doing just fine,
The bill that passed the Senate isn’t perfect, but then, no bill
ever is. It’s a giant step in the right direction. Once this bill
passes both houses again:
• Insurance companies will no longer be
able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
That’s a major plus for consumers.
• Insurance companies will no longer be
able to drop the insurance on people who become sick. Who could
possibly be against this?
• Workers won’t have to worry about losing
their insurance if they switch jobs or lose their jobs.
That’s been a long time in coming.
• Thirty million Americans will be new
customers of the insurance companies. People will be required to
carry insurance. Those who cannot afford it will receive help from
the federal government in paying the insurance premiums.
• The Congressional Budget Office claims
the reforms will not result in further borrowed money by the federal
government and furthermore states that the reforms will actually cut
the federal deficit. Sen. Kent Conrad says the bill will cut the
federal budget deficit by $130 billion over the first 10 years and
between $650 and $1.3 trillion in the next decade.
• According to Sen. Byron Dorgan the Senate
bill guarantees that Medicare services to senior citizens will not
be cut or affected in any way.
In fact, the bill improves the solvency of Medicare, he said.
• In addition, Dorgan said, "For the first
time in many decades, this bill finally provides fair reimbursement
to North Dakota and several other states which have the highest
quality health care, but the lowest reimbursements under Medicare.
This new fair payment system will mean a strengthened health care
system for senior citizens on Medicare. It will also mean a better
health care system for all North Dakotans because there will be less
cost shifting among individuals with private policies in order to
cover the shortfall in Medicare reimbursement."
• Conrad also said the Senate bill begins
to reshape the health care delivery system by placing greater
premiums on health care outcomes instead of compensating providers
for the number of procedures performed.
• The infamous "Doughnut Hole" in Medicare
Part D for prescriptions will be closed once the final bill is
passed. This will help 57,465 Part D enrollees in North Dakota.
Not one Republican in the Senate voted for these reforms.
The health care reform bill in the Senate was supported by the
American Association of Retired Persons, the National Committee to
Save Social Security and Medicare, the American Hospital
Association, the American Medical Association and many, many
consumer groups across the country.
Contrary to the lying radio and TV ads paid for by the health
insurance industry, there is no government takeover of health care.
No rationing of health care. No cuts to guaranteed Medicare
benefits. No benefits to illegal immigrants. And the legislation
includes strict limitations to prevent taxpayer funding for
abortions beyond what is in current law.
According to Harper’s Magazine, the health insurance industry
spent $1.5 million per day nationwide in 2009 attempting to defeat
health care reform. The industry spent about $2.2 million on lying
ads in North Dakota alone. Where did the industry get that money?
From people who have to pay outrageous health insurance premiums,