Monday, December 7, 2009

Health Care Reform Information

If you want a giggle go to the post below this one. I had to remove it in order to post this important health care reform informtaion.

This information came from "Move On".  The link was nearly as long as the article so I copied and pasted it.  If you find things you either agree, or disagree, with please continue to contact your legislators.    Go to the government site for their telephone numbers, addresses, and e-mail contact.  

A handwritten letter is best, but time is of the essence.  It only takes a minute to make a phone call and if you can't get through to the D. C. number, they all have local office telephone numbers you can call.

Here's Where We Are

The House of Representatives passed their bill last month. The Senate is aiming to pass its version before Christmas.
Overall, both pieces of legislation would do four major things:

  • Create a "Health Insurance Exchange." The bills create a one-stop marketplace where people can choose from various insurance plans, including the public option. The details aren't set yet, but initially the Exchange would likely be open to the self-employed, people without insurance at work, and small businesses.1 The key with the Exchange is that it brings "the bargaining power and scale that's generally accessible only to large employers" to individuals—and with that, lower costs and better options.2
  • Provide insurance to over 30 million more people. The House bill would expand coverage to 36 million people by 2019. The Senate bill extends coverage to 31 million.3
  • Outlaw discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and gender. Insurance companies will have to stop denying coverage to people with "pre-existing conditions." And they won't be allowed to charge women more than men for the same coverage.4
  • Eliminate coverage limits and price-gouging. The bills differ on some details, but in general would place limits on how much people have to pay for health care beyond their premiums. They both cap out-of-pocket costs and ban insurance companies from setting limits on how much health care they'll cover for a person each year.5
Of course, the devil is in the details, and much in these bills still needs work.

Here's what still needs to be fixed:

  • Both bills leave millions uninsured. The House bill leaves 18 million without insurance in 2019; the Senate bill, 24 million. Neither comes close to the vision for universal coverage so many of us fought for for years. We'll all need to fight to continue to expand coverage in the bills this year, and in the years to come.6
  • The Senate public option is weak, and conservatives are pushing to make it weaker. The public option is a core piece of reform that will create real accountability and competition for private insurance—and that's why it's at the center of such a huge fight. While the House bill creates a national public option, the Senate lets states opt out, denying their residents access to it. Plus, conservatives are working to weaken it even more. We're all going to have to fight hard for the strongest version possible.7
  • Many reforms don't start quickly enough. While some pieces of reform go into effect right away, the larger structural changes are not scheduled to go into effect until 2013 (House bill) or 2014 (Senate bill). This includes the Exchange, the public option, and subsidies—the major ways coverage will be expanded.8
  • Required insurance could still be too expensive for many. Both bills require virtually all Americans to have insurance. But the caps on how much we're expected to pay are way too high, and the subsidies are way too low. Many progressives are working to fix this, but it's going to be a significant fight.9
  • Reproductive rights are severely restricted in the House bill. An egregious anti-choice amendment in the bill virtually prohibits anyone purchasing insurance in the Exchange from buying a plan that covers abortion—even if paid for with their own money. We need to make sure the final bill doesn't include this rollback of reproductive rights.10 
  • The Senate bill could discriminate against lower income workers. The current Senate legislation retains a version of what's called the "free rider" provision, which essentially penalizes employers for hiring lower income workers. This provision needs to be fixed before the bill is finalized.
There's a lot going on in these bills, and we're all going to need to be vigilant to ensure the good pieces end up in the final bill, and the bad ones are fixed. It's going to be a rocky ride. But if we fight together, we'll come out stronger in the end.
Thank you, as always, for everything you do.
–Justin, Adam, Amy, Anna, Annie, Carrie, Christopher, Daniel, Danielle, Eli, Emily, Gail, Ian, Ilya, Ilyse, Joan, Jodeen, Kat, Keauna, Laura, Lenore, Marika, Matt, Matthew, Melanie, Michael, Nita, Noah, Peter, Scott, Stephen, Steven, Susannah, and Wes
P.S. Check out more about the House bill here and the Senate bill here or here, and see what the impact of reform would be in your state here. If you want to read the full bills, for the House, click here or here (PDF), and for the Senate, here or here (PDF).
1.  "A Health Insurance Exchange: The Fine Print," The New York Times, August 20, 2009

"Health Reform at a Glance: The Health Insurance Exchange,"  House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor, July 14, 2009

2. "Health Insurance Exchanges: The Most Important, Undernoticed Part of Health Reform," The Washington Post, June 16, 2009

3. "H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 20, 2009

"Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 18, 2009

4. "Top 10 Ways Health Insurance Reform Works for You," The Speaker of the House, October 29, 2009

"How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Your Family," Senate Democratic Policy Committee

"Meeting Women's Health Care Needs," The Speaker of the House

"Reports on Health Insurance Reform—Women," Senate Democratic Policy Committee

5. "Top 10 Ways Health Insurance Reform Works for You," The Speaker of the House, October 29, 2009

"How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Your Family," Senate Democratic Policy Committee

6. "H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 20, 2009

"Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 18, 2009

"REPORT: How the Senate Bill Compares to Other Reform Legislation," Think Progress, November 19, 2009

7. "Sen. Reid Announces 'Opt Out' Public Plan," The New York Times, October 26, 2009

"Carper: Conservative Democrats Not Likely To Support Senate Public Option," Talking Points Memo, November 17, 2009

8. "Top 14 Provisions That Take Effect Immediately," The Speaker of the House

"What happens before 2014?" The Washington Post, November 19, 2009

"Senate, House Democratic health bills compared," The Associated Press, November 18, 2009

9. "The Details of The New Merged Senate Bill," Think Progress, November 18, 2009

"REPORT: How the Senate Bill Compares to Other Reform Legislation," Think Progress, November 19, 2009

"Analysis: How the Senate health care bill stacks up with the House health care bill," Think Progress, November 19, 2009

10. "The Ban on Abortion Coverage," The New York Times, November 9, 2009

11. "The noxious 'free rider' provision," The Washington Post, November 25, 2009

"Senate Health Bill Improves Employer Responsibility Provision," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, November 19, 2009

"The Baucus Bill: The Worst Policy in the Bill, and Possibly in the World," The Washington Post, September 16, 2009


Looking to the Stars said...

Good post! A lot of info to digest. Thanks for doing all this work and sharing it. Your tops in my book :)

Hattie said...

The Move On info makes it a lot easier for me to understand what the Health Reform Bill is about. Thanks.

Leslie Parsley said...

Lordy, I'm going to have to come back tomorrow to go through all this. What a fantastic job you did here, Darlene. I can only imagine the time it took. No wonder your back hurts.

BTW, I saw your note on McCain. If you go back and scroll down about 5or 6 posts, there's a video of him slamming AARP on the Senate floor. That out to screw him with us old folks.

Paula said...

Good job, Darlene, and very timely.

Darlene said...

*Looking to the Stars- Thank you, but I didn't do any work other than cut and paste.

*Hattie - You are welcome.

*Leslie Parsley - Thank you, but you give me too much credit. All I did was cut and paste.

I think I saw McCain on C-Span wave his arms up and down like a robot doll and slam AARP when he was spouting nonsense on the House floor. What a hypocrite.

*Paula - Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like the whole thing has gotten too complicated - like they are setting up another zillion ways for people to cheat the system. I see lots of waste, fraud, & abuse coming up (even more than we're getting, today!) When it comes to providing healthcare, the single-payer system is looking better and better.
Cop Car

Darlene said...

*Cop Car - Amen! It was to be expected that when you get a bunch of self serving jerks working on it they would thoroughly mess up reform. I guess the U. S. will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Until the whole system fails we will never get the sensible single payer health care and I will be long gone.

Vagabonde said...

I have been reading all the posts you wrote while I was away. You have some funny lines and cartoons in there, and some good stories too. Now I have to go to all the links you mentioned to understand what is happening here. While I was in Europe I heard a lot from the Europeans about our health care problems – they think we are all crazy. It was hard to talk about it.

Kay Dennison said...

I am so not surprised!!! Yesterday I wrote about the travesty Ohio is trying to foist upon us elders. You can bet I'm writing a letter to the editor and calling my State reps and senator and holler my head off.

Thank you for gathering all this useful info!!!!!

Looks like I'll be calling "John-Boy"'s office, too as well as Sherrod and George's offices.

joared said...

They're going to have this bill so watered down, diluted and bloated with amendments there won't be much of a health care bill left.

Darlene said...

*Vagabonde - I think we are crazy, too.

*Kay - Good for you !!! Keep on hollering, Kay. Way to go.

*Joared - I know - isn't it sad and disgusting? Now Pelosi and Reid have caved on the Public Option. It's almost all over.

Xtreme English said...

Excellent resource! Thanks for posting, Darlene! (Any sign of the mule train?)