Friday, October 30, 2009

Senate should model its health care reform bill on House's version

The House of Representatives has introduced a health care reform bill that accomplishes what this legislation is supposed to do -- greatly reduce the number of uninsured while reducing budget deficits. It includes a public option, but not one as strong as I would like --i.e., the option plan doesn't pay doctors and hospitals based on Medicare rates -- but at least one is in there. The problem with it is the public option probably will cost more than the average private plan because it might only attract the sickest people.

Still, it's far superior to the Senate plan. The bill would generate enough taxes (the chief one being a surcharge on the part of annual income exceeding $1 million for couples and $.5 million for individuals -- after all the tax breaks that benefited the wealthy during the Bush administration it's fitting they pay a heavy share of health care reform) and Medicare savings so that the net effect of the bill would be to reduce the deficit by $104 million over the next 10 years.

It requires employers, except for small businesses, to either offer health care benefits to their employees and pay a large portion of the cost of that care, or face a severe penalty. By the year 2019, it is expected this bill would provide health insurance to 96 percent of all Americans who are not elderly and living here legally. It would allow young people up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' policies. It would provide immediate help to those who have been denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

The Senate should come up with a bill as fiscally responsible and one that gets as close to universal coverage as this one.

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