The Compromise of the Compromise

compromise1Late last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that a breakthrough deal had been reached on the contentious healthcare reform bill the President has been asking for.  But have they compromised away the core of the reform in this bill?  Did they deal away the part that really would have put some competition into the market to bring down the absurdly high rates people are faced with to maintain their coverage?  Will it make an insurance option available to those for whom today’s coverage is already priced beyond reach? The deal has not been disclosed in full detail.  But according to Democratic sources, it essentially jettisons the government administered public option in exchange for a health insurance exchange which won’t take effect until 2014 and for the agreement to allow people to buy into Medicare at age 55 instead of the current age 65 limit. This blogger’s opinion is that this bill from the Senate does nothing to keep costs down.  It does however mandate that all Americans buy some kind of insurance.  And it shunts more older people into Medicare which will help the private insurers pay out less in benefits since younger people are typically in better health and make less claims. So who wins?  I’d say the American public is getting the short end of the stick while the private insurers get a law that guarantees them a whole lot of new customers while simultaneously allows them to push more folks with real medical needs out the door. If you see it differently, sound off in the comments and let me know what your perspective is.

5 Responses to “The Compromise of the Compromise”

    • Patricia Robinson

      Insurance is a scary subject for many Americans. For some, it is the cost of keeping it, keeping up with co-pays, and what is offered or not offered through your employers. But, like many people that are out of work, it is how are we going to pay for healthcare, or do we just go without. Somehow I just don’t see how it will ever be agreed upon to have healthcare for everyone. They have been trying for years, and it may be in the limelight now, but I just don’t see it happening in the very near future.

  1. Gia Cioffi-Norment

    Let’s agree to disagree … just depends on which side of the fence you’re on.

    The bills would expand coverage by making more lower-income people eligible for Medicaid, and by offering subsidies to help moderate-income people buy insurance. They would forbid insurance companies from denying coverage of pre-existing conditions, and would create insurance exchanges — new government-regulated marketplaces where individuals and small businesses could come together to buy coverage. The 160 million Americans who get their coverage through their employer would stay with that insurance. Nearly everyone would be required to get insurance or face a penalty, and businesses would be required to provide coverage or contribute to its cost.

    The biggest difference between the plans is their approach to the public option. If Mr. Reid succeeds in getting his bill passed — and fights are looming over abortion as well as the public option — it will have to be reconciled with the House bill in a conference committee, after which the combined version would face votes in both houses.

    The Congressional Budget Office said both bills would reduce the federal deficit over 10 years, but Republicans attacked the plans vociferously, calling them unaffordable and an intrusion on individuals’ rights. Democrats responded that without action, costs would continue to soar and the number of uninsured (currently about 46 million) would continue to increase.

    Past universal access to health insurance similarities:
    President Bill Clinton offered the most ambitious proposal and suffered the most spectacular failure. Working for 10 months behind closed doors, Clinton aides wrote a 240,000-word bill. Scores of lobbyists picked it apart. Congressional Democrats took potshots at it. And Republicans used the specter of government-run health care to help them take control of Congress in the midterm elections of 1994. One of the most significant differences between 1993-94 and 2009 is that employers and business groups, alarmed at the soaring cost of health care, are now among the most ardent advocates for change.

    Insurance companies, which helped defeat the Clinton plan, now say they accept the need for change and want a seat at the table. Insurers say they are willing to accept all applicants for coverage, regardless of illness or disability, if Congress requires everyone to have insurance. Without such a requirement, insurers say, many people will not buy health insurance until they need it.

    Two of the biggest, most contentious issues are the cost of any plan and the role of government. Most proposals to expand coverage, offered by Republicans and Democrats alike, assume that private insurers will continue to operate, under stricter regulation. The proposals also assume that the federal government will offer subsidies, tax credits or other assistance to help people buy insurance. Insurance companies have been adamantly opposed, however, to Democratic proposals to create a government-run insurance plan as an alternative to their offerings.

    The old saying you can’t please everyone all of the time is completely understated with the healthcare reform issue. Since discussing religion and politics can be dangerous I won’t voice my opinion. However I’ll leave on this note … I’m not on the good side of the fence, but don’t we all feel that way? You decide.

    • Very well articulated breakdown of many of the thorny issues in this legislation Gia. And here I thought I was one of the only policy wonk nerds on this blog. Part of the problem is that with so many competing interests making noise, it is hard for the average American, who is too busy surviving to spend much time really digging into the issues and researching the facts, to arrive at any conclusion that isn’t colored by poor or blatantly misleading information. Too much static.

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