The stimulus is working. Economy is picking up. People are beginning to see the signs on the roads, along with the workers, telling us that the government is trying hard to put people back to work. But it won’t be easy. The previous Administration left us with 14,000,000 unemployed since the beginning of 2008, a year and a half. Until the Obama economic team put the stimulus into effect–over the “no” votes of every single Republican in Congress–people were being laid off at the rate of 600,000 a month! Now things are turning around. And now the Democratic Administration is doing something about health care.
So let’s take a serious look at health care because there are several bills some from the House and one, so far, from the Senate. You will have a difficult time finding any provisions in any of the bills coming out of Congress that would talk about euthanasia, or rationing, or losing our health industry. These are bills that offer some excellent new opportunities for the American people. It must be said that anyone who is paranoid about these bills has not read them, doesn’t believe Democrats on some pathological basis, has an economic axe to grind, or is simply a Neocon Republican. In other words, someone wedded to idea of big corporations bossing people around to the point of lying to them to get them to act as they wish.
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act from the House Committee on Education and Labor, …starts out by saying that you will continue your coverage as it is. But here is a benefit in the plan that will help you. If you are laid off, or if you are a small businessman and you must sell your business, you can get insurance and get it at a reasonable rate. You may get it from an insurance company. Or if you can’t, you will always be able to buy insurance from the government at a price that is commensurate with your circumstances. But if you have insurance now, if you lose it, you don’t have to worry and while you have it, there is a good chance that your costs will go down.
The Education and Labor bill has been rated by CBO, to cost $611 billion over ten years and it will eventually be revenue neutral. This is what all the economist have been saying. That over time, because we now pay $6,800 per person, we will eventually bring that down to about $3,000 per person, plus the increases over time, which should be something like…no more than…4% per year. So in ten years your costs still will not be what they are now. By the way, about $61 billion a year is nothing. We are already on track to save about $11 billion of that per year in efficiencies guaranteed by the pharmaceutical companies.
Let’s take some of the more ridiculous charges from the Right Wing nuts as we go along. Governor Palin, although my guess is that her attention span is not of such duration she could read any of the bills, has said that there will be euthanasia—though I’m certain she can’t spell it. Not true. What she is trying to hype into a problem for the really intelligence-challenged is the provision that says that if you have a relative that is up there in age, rather than working alone on a living will or not thinking of it, the government will help you with a certain payment amount to make sure you have a living will. What does this mean? It means that if you fall into a coma or if you are being kept alive on life support, your family and doctors will know for certain what you would like to have done. But a better outline is right here in the summary at this location. It’s only 4 pages. Easy reading.
Will your insurance company go broke and you lose your insurance? Will you be forced onto some kind of dreary, institutionalized, Dickensian welfare program? Of course not. Who in the world would legislate such a thing? If your health care company can’t compete, it will be because some other private company was more efficient, and the company you work for decided on a new insurer. But this legislation says that all companies will have what many states now require…a basic insurance plan. Then you may opt for a more expensive one or one that covers Viagra. But all will have good, solid, standard features. This isn’t going to force any serious companies out of business. Only the stupid or greedy ones.
The House Ways and Means Committee has a slightly different bill. It has all the provisions of the Education and Labor bill, but adds a few technical details, mostly to do with accounting, and tax benefits or assessments. Clarifies the income parameters for the people at the top 1.2% of the income ladder who will get a little surcharge to help pay for all this. Specifies certain aspects of nursing home care and whether your primary doctor can be a specialist…kind of mundane stuff that an allocating committee would be used to considering…technical details mostly involving costs. But…if you’re interested, here it is:
Energy and Commerce obviously has put out the basic bill, HR 3200, and its amendments are basically in the area of services. Pretty specific stuff about medical student loans and dealing with the specifics of home health care and National Health Service Corps. Here is their amendment to the bill.
Will there be rationing? Another one of the kooky ideas coming from people like Palin, who say that the bill that you have read or may read for yourself is “evil.” Of course, if you see the world as run by God and people are either influenced by Jesus or by Satan, then it is clear that you may take that approach. But in the 21st Century, most economists, political scientists and medical professionals are not concerned with evil, but with how to make something work really well and how to make it affordable. Especially since every other major country in the world, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Scandinavians countries, and many, many others do it so much better than we do and for so much less.
The answer is no. There will not be rationing. You will see your doctor on the same schedule as you do now. You will see the specialist on the same schedule as you do now. On the other hand, it may improve. There are 6000 fewer doctors graduated each year than are necessary to run the U.S. medical system. That is one reason you do not get to see your doctor as quickly as you would like. We have many fewer doctors not only than the other countries of the developed world, but far fewer per capita than….Cuba. Part of the plan is to force and encourage the medical community to add more chairs in medical schools. That will happen. Four years after the plan starts you will definitely see improvements in your ability to see a doctor.
Read the summary of the bill. No killing people off. No rationing. No “socialized medicine.” Only improvements in your current health insurance, which you will keep if you like. No worry about losing your health care. No worry about getting and affording health care. Medicare will be improved. VA is already being improved and it is possible that VA care may be extended to all veterans in some way. There will be a public option. This will simply be a government back-up program that will basically be Medicare for the Rest of Us. The idea being that if the health insurers don’t want you, the government will take you. Actually, with the new law, the health insurance companies cannot turn you down nor can they drop you because you get ill or have an accident.
These are good bills. Read them and refer others to them. They are a vast improvement in our health care delivery system. We should all be standing and screaming and cheering and applauding. Not only is this nothing to fear, it is the best legislation to come along in at least 30 years…an historic moment for the People.