Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 8 (8 Shares)  

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   7 comments
OpEdNews Op Eds

The Prognosis for Health Reform

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert Weiner     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 8/8/09

Author 13208
Become a Fan
  (5 fans)
- Advertisement -

Friday, August 7, 2009

by Robert Weiner and Jordan Osserman

- Advertisement -

(Originally in the Palm Beach Post.)

The differences between the House and Senate health care reform bills aren't just for wonky policy experts. They translate to real differences in Americans' lives.

Three committees in the House have completed action, and two in the Senate are moving legislation. There will be votes in both chambers soon after the August recess. The House bill will combine the amended versions from its committees. The Senate is still pondering the differing versions from the Finance and Health committees. Senate leadership will likely name one of those the main bill and the other a "substitute," which can be voted on an amendment.

After both chambers pass their versions, lawmakers will name a conference committee to create a final, single bill that will go back to both floors for final passage before going to President Obama.

- Advertisement -

House leaders have just completed negotiations with conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, and all three committees will include a non-profit public insurance option, designed to make private insurance companies compete harder and cheaper. However, the public option will not use Medicare reimbursement rates. All prices will be negotiated with insurance companies. The bill's "cost" thus was reduced by $100 billion over 10 years, which simply means that Americans will still pay high premiums.

In the Senate, the Kennedy-Dodd bill from the Health Committee has a public option. The Baucus-Grassley bill, worked out among three Democrats and three Republicans on the Finance Committee, provides all coverage only through existing insurance companies. While coverage would improve, it would be a gift to the drug companies and would co-opt reform.

All of these bills would cover most of the 47 million Americans who lack insurance, stop denials for pre-existing conditions, allow job portability, cover the "doughnut hole" in prescription drug coverage that is a problem for the 3 million Floridians on Medicare and emphasize prevention of illnesses. There would be "no caps" on coverage for "people we know with cancer or diabetes," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says. Twenty-five million "underinsured" Americans would receive full coverage, with no co-pays for preventive care. Under the House legislation, the minimum-wage mom who realized only at Stage IV that she had breast cancer would receive an early mammogram.

However, the cost to consumers would depend on whether the House or Senate bill prevails and what kind of compromise is engineered in the conference committee. The House public option, for example, would cut as much as $265 billion from for-profit companies' "overhead" over 10 years the money that pays high salaries and bonuses for insurance executives and administrators.

With no public option, the Senate Finance Committee bill would not ensure lower premiums. The House bill requires large employers to provide coverage. Members of the Senate Finance Committee want only "incentives" that would allow a corporation like Wal-Mart to continue denying insurance to 48 percent of its employees.

It's no surprise that Sen. Baucus is promoting a bill that instead of doing no harm to patients would do none to business. Five of his former staffers work for health care and insurance companies. He has received $2,8 million in campaign money from health companies and $1.2 million from insurers.

Seventy-six percent of Americans support the public option. Without consumer pressure over the next three months of votes in Congress, however, real change will be whittled away. Florida has particular sway as a battleground state renowned for its senior power. It's time for everyone to become active in the debate. Otherwise, the insurance companies will control the outcome.

- Advertisement -

Robert Weiner is president of Robert Weiner Associates, a Washington, D.C. public relations company. He was chief of the staff of the U.S. House Committee on Aging under Chairman Claude Pepper, D-Miami. Jordan Osserman is a policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates. A graduate of Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, he won the Post's 2007 Pathfinder Award for History/Political Science.

The above version is in print edition.
Link to online version:


- Advertisement -

Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

Robert Weiner, NATIONAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ISSUES STRATEGIST Bob Weiner, a national issues and public affairs strategist, has been spokesman for and directed the public affairs offices of White House Drug Czar and Four Star General Barry (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
/* The Petition Site */
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Do Conservatives Vote Against Their Own Interest?

Jeb Bush's Elephant in the Room: Role in Bush v. Gore Recount

Food Stamp Myth Busting

Iran: Nuclear Weapons or Peaceful Energy?

Why not free 4-year college?

All Athletes Should Face the Same Tough Drug Testing