Sunday, December 27, 2009

Health Care reform: What Has Been Won and What Has Been Lost So Far

As we near the final version of
THE PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT it is time to take full measure of just what has and has not been accomplished. Most importantly what has not been accomplished is a so called public option or early Medicare buy in to pressure the health care insurance industry to lower their premiums. Instead, these protected monopolies, will get roughly 30 million new customers with few restraints on what they can charge for their "product". If that isn't enough to demonstrate the immense lobbying and influence peddling of the giant health care corporations take a look at this article from Huffington Post. Here is an excerpt:

Reuter's [business] noted a big bump Monday morning, after the bill passed the first critical test in the Senate:

"All in all, relative to the last version of health reform issued by the Senate, things have turned out pretty well for the health insurance industry," said Carl McDonald, an analyst at Oppenheimer. "In particular, all versions of a government-run health plan have largely been eliminated."
Thanks to Lieberman's threat, health insurers dodged a major competitor that could have lowered margins, siphoned off customers and impacted profits.

And for those who would argue that the free market is the best way to supply health insurance to the public let me say this. That concept would be a little more palatable if just making a profit was the goal. But these companies are traded on the stock market and any corporation that has stock holders must show not that it is profitable but that it's profits GROW each year. In other words more and more of the money poured into health care through these companies is dedicated to profits every year, not patient care.

In fact denying patient care is their job. So in the long run we have to have a government run single payer system to lower the costs in our health care economy, which is one sixth of our national economy.
This is not to say the insurance companies got off scott free.
  • They will no longer be allowed to drop your coverage because you forgot to tell them about a skin tag that was found on you 5 years ago or other such nonsense
  • They can no longer impose life time limits which run out when you are fighting an overwhelming disease or disorder
  • They can no longer deny you or your children coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Insurance companies will be required to spend a preset amount of their premium incomes (80-85%) on providing health care to their beneficiaries.
  • Will require coverage of prevention and wellness benefits and exempt these benefits from deductibles and other cost sharing requirements in public and private insurance coverage.

Senate Finance Committee has posted an extensive list of the provisions of the current bill that will begin as soon as it is signed into law, immediately benefiting consumers. According to Salon very informal discussions will begin between staffers of the pertinent House and Senate committees.