I’m not quite sure what to make of this latest, nearly $900 billion Healthcare Reform bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other key Democratic House leaders, without yet having read the fine-print within the nearly 2,000-page bill proposal.
At least, at first blush, it looks like the Pelosi House bill is somewhat less Byzantine and convoluted than the previous “Opt-Out” Senate bill from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Max “No-Public-Caucus” Baucus, but I’m not sure if that says much? Specifically, I haven’t come across press reports of the Pelosi House bill incorporating any of the Senate buzz-word floaters like “Opt-Out,” “Opt-In” and “Trigger” yet. So this could be a positive step up in making this Pelosi bill somewhat more decipherable compared to other previous bill proposals, but at 1,990 pages, it would be advisable to buy a case of Vivarin to get through the fine print of this Tolstoy-sized epic.
Most notable unknown left open to speculation: Does this mean the Pelosi bill proposal has a better chance of passing a first vote in the House, even if some of conservative “Blue Dog” Democratic representatives and Republicans vote against it and their Big Healthcare minders threaten to pull their pull their big-buck contributions?
Under the bill, NPR reports most Americans would be required to have insurance by 2013 through their employer, a government program or the new exchange. Federal subsidies would be available to lower-income individuals and families to help them pay for the policies. (It also means if you among the ranks of the 47 million or so Americans without health insurance, you may have to wait 3 or 4 more to secure aid under the projected trigger date.)
As changes are phased in, a temporary government program would help people turned down by private insurers because of poor health or a pre-existing condition. The plan would also expand Medicaid, the health program for the poor.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the plan will cost $894 billion over the next 10 years, according to House Democrats, but we all know the track record of the federal government ever staying within its projected budgets. It would be paid for by cuts in planned Medicare spending and an income tax surcharge of 5.4 percent on individuals making at least $500,000 annually and couples making at least $1 million.
The bill “reduces the deficit, meets President Obama’s call to keep the cost under $900 billion over 10 years, and it insures 36 million more Americans,” Pelosi said at a news conference on the west steps of the Capitol, according to NPR.
Still, there is eye-opening caveat: Pelosi promised the plan will lower costs for patients, but it still leaves 4 percent of the population – about 12 million people – without coverage, according to NPR. Now, I’m still wondering why there is such a large percentage/number of Americans left uninsured and why it falls short under this proposed “Universal Healthcare” plan?
House Democrats have also not worked out disputes over thorny issues regarding abortion services and health care for immigrants, issues that must be settled before the bill can come to a vote.
Perhaps a recognition over pubic outrage regarding For-Profit/Big Health Insurance carriers being able act with almost complete impunity when it comes to denials of medical claim procedures and a systemic pattern of policy revocations for persons found to have “preexisting conditions,” the Pelosi bill indicates there may actually be a compulsion to act in the “Public Interest.”
According to The Associated Press, the bill would strip the health insurance industry of its 64-year-old antitrust-exempt status covering market allocation, price fixing and bid rigging. Democratic officials said the bill also would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to look into the health insurance industry on its own initiative.
If Congress proves to have the teeth to strip the antitrust-exempt status from Big Insurance, it could mark a significant turning point in the quarter-century pattern of unchecked deregulatory actions made in favor of Corporate Big Business in this country. But it has to be kept in mind that promises made in this bill or any other House/Senate compromise bill may only hold as long as the coming 2012 election cycle and will not likely be enacted until 2013. In other words, there could be some lofty pre-election-year point scoring being attempted here, but maybe that’s the cynic in me speaking?!
NOTE: Under a proposal from our nonpartisan citizens advocacy organization, Trans-American Alliance for National Consensus (TANC), a 23-page position/research paper, “Rx for U.S. Healthcare Reform” (http://www.transamericanallliance.org), is advocating the expansion of a little-known, 25-year-old sub-classification of NONPROFIT “Social Managed Care Plan” organizations (aka “Social HMOs”) offering “Medicare-minimum” base-rate premiums ($96.40 per month in 2009) with enhanced health insurance coverage/care services for Seniors.
TANC’s plan places more of the taxation burden for the STARTUP of this broadened nonprofit “Social HMO” structure and a Pulbic-Option aid component to come from a new special 5% or 10% corporate tax on the producers/distributors of “Unhealthy/Addictive Consumable Products” (tobacco, alcoholic beverages, fast food chains, sweetened non-alcoholic beverages, candy/confectionary products, and packaged snack foods) – the biggest burdens on the U.S. healthcare system. TANC has also proposed a 1-2% general corporate tax (outside of the producers of “unhealthy/addictive” products) to help cover the startup costs (which TANC is projecting at no more than $200 billion) for these “Social HMOs,” which will expeditiously become SELF-FINANCING/SELF-SUSTAINING health insurance organizations from direct “Medicare-minimum” base-rate premium sales and billings to both under-65 and over-65 American consumers.
What do you think is “more” fair, placing the taxation burdens of healthcare on upper-income individual taxpayers or on corporations (as TANC proposes above)? I’m just really curious on the Moosers’ takes on this — inquiring minds need to know!