14th December 2017
Home » Bisnis Online » The health care reform bill: what kind of health care coverage will Americans get?
September 5th, 2017 Cat: Bisnis Online

250x250 LogoWe’ve been hearing about health care reform and ‘universal health care’ for more than 15 years. When President Clinton came in to office in 1992, Mrs. Clinton was tasked with developing a health care system which would cover all Americans. Ultimately, the project reached a dead end, not for lack of effort, but because politics operated as usual and insurance companies were dead set against such health care coverage, for a number of reasons, particularly as it might affect their profits.

Last year, during President Obama’s campaign, health care coverage for all was a major issue once again. Of concern to all Americans, this issue probably played a significant role in ‘getting out the vote’. Congress has spent the past year, attempting to put together a bill with health care options that will provide coverage for everyone, regardless of income.

The result? A bill that exceeds 2,000 pages. The legislative process in America is nothing if not slow and cumbersome. As of this writing, the news bytes we get tell us virtually nothing about what sort of health care coverage we can expect. News stories don’t get that specific, focusing instead on the latest bickering over this or that point. We learn that a member of Congress or the Senate is wavering on his or her vote, due to side issues such as being up for reelection, or holding office in a state with a large contingent of insurance companies, exercising their ‘influence’ on that politician. The average citizen might be left out of this new rendition of health care reform. Here’s just one example: in order to fund this health care reform package, benefits to Medicare recipients will be cut by $400 billion over the next ten years, a stipulation present in both the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Now, as for the process in making the bill law: if a majority of legislators do not support the legislation, the law provides what’s known as a filibuster. This means that a member of the House or Senate can prevent any debate over specific portions and issues in the bill deemed objectionable and requiring discussion in order to reach workable resolutions on each point.

So what does it take to filibuster? Well, one option would be for a House or Senate member to stand up and insist on reading Sarah Palin’s new book, not just once, but over and over, until everyone but the reader is asleep or says, “Uncle!”. This ploy should be an embarrassment to every American. Incidentally, if the filibuster is successful, the health care reform bill dies an ignominious death and we have no difference in our current health care coverage options. We taxpayers would then have paid our representatives for a year’s worth of bickering, with nothing to show for it. Should this become the case, our insult-to-injury quotient might be heightened, knowing that these same representatives are provided with the finest health care coverage money can buy – our money!

One thing that every politician is good at is making ponderous speeches. If the bill does make it to the debate stage, there will be plenty of speeches and possible amendments. With these amendments, there would be another vote, requiring a majority in favor. So it’s easy to see that it could be a good long while before you and I have a different form of health care coverage.

So what are the few facts we know about how this new health care coverage might work? Purchasing health insurance would be mandatory, with some exceptions made for those below the poverty line. It remains to be seen how poor you need to be to receive low cost or subsidized health insurance. Insurance providers could no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. A person who became ill while covered could not be dropped due to their illness.

There’s yet another big sized ‘fly in the ointment’: employers are now facing dramatic hikes in the amount they must contribute to unemployment, forcing many small business owners to curtail new hires. How would higher unemployment rates affect our health care coverage? It’s entirely possible that laid off workers, receiving unemployment, would be required to purchase health insurance they could not afford.

If the filibuster option doesn’t succeed, debate proceeds and a health care reform bill is finally passed, what will we have? ‘Who knows?’ is probably the honest answer right now.

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