Its tough to categorically list all the positives and negatives in the Health Care debate to date. Since now Democratic Senators are even backing off the idea that there is a bill to discuss (see: Senator Claire McCaskill) or being vague and not saying what they truly support (see: President Barack Obama) its tough to pinpoint exactly what will be in the final bill until it makes its way to vote. But here is a progress report to list some pros and cons of the expected bill:
+ 87 million Americans were uninsured for all or most of a two year period between ’07 and ’08. Latest estimates put the figure around 46 million people who are uninsured. These uninsured citizens are part of the reason health care premiums are rising and account for a large burden of health care costs on the federal government. Under President Obama’s “health insurance reform” these people will have an affordable, acceptable form of coverage. This will change a lot of things…
+ People who were previously without coverage will now take advantage of things like preventative medicine, regular checkups, and prescription drugs. In theory, this will save some lives and unnecessary emergency room costs. All plans in the exchange will have to conform to federal regulations. These regulations should limit some of the horrible stories like lifetime caps, denying pre-existing coverages, or dropping your coverage overall. This would also eliminate some bankruptcies where a new study suggests that 62% in this country result from medical costs and most of these bankruptcies happen to individuals who have insurance.
+ Prescription drug prices will fall. There are a few proposed ways to do this including importation, regulation, and use of generics.
+ Health care costs for the middle class should decrease. Rates are set based on income as it relates to the poverty level. President Obama indicates that a public option will keep the private insurance companies honest. From the bill itself (HR 3200) :
Income levels as a percentage of poverty:
* 133% through 150% pay 1.5% – 3% of income
* 150% through 200% pay 3% – 5% of income
* 200% through 250% pay 5% – 7% of income
* 250% through 300% pay 7% – 9% of income
* 300% through 350% pay 9% – 10% of income
* 350% through 400% pay 10% -11% of income
– Rationing care. Obama touched on this a little in his town hall campaign…I mean, meeting. Against his cause he noted that there is a shortage of nurses, a severe lack of primary care physicians, disproportionate scale for paying nursing teachers and physicians. He went on to explain that there are a few ways he can stimulate growth in those areas. Even the dead set health reform supporters have to admit that adding another 40 million people into the system will mean less care for the 260 million people already receiving care.
– Piling on the national debt. The CBO was created as an independent nonpartisan agency to assist the House and Senate Budget Committees analyze the yearly budget submitted by the President’s Office of Management and Budget. The CBO says that the HR 3200 will increase the federal budget deficit by over a trillion between 2010 and 2019.
– Bad track record for government run programs. The state of Massachusetts already has a similar plan in place, three years in and it has delivered less than admirable results. Massachusetts pays 33 percent more per person than the national average. President Johnson’s “Great Society” gave us Medicare and Medicaid, which insured millions of senior citizens and in the process drove up the cost of medical care due in part to third-party payment problems.