Senate Passes Largest Health Care Expansion Since Medicare

While most of us were still asleep, the United States Senate passed landmark legislation to reform health care. The legislation moves the country closer to the largest expansion of medical coverage since Medicare more than four decades ago. On a 60-39 party line vote the Senate concluded months wrangling to craft the Senate bill. The $879 billion proposal, is far from perfect, and still must be reconciled with the House bill in conference committee.

Newsweek has this side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills:

Graphic by Roberto Gonzalez.

There is good stuff in both of these bills. But merging them into one piece of legislation will be more difficult that herding cats. Those of us who want to see any change in our current health coverage system will need to spend the next couple weeks encouraging the House and Senate leaders to keep the good stuff, and flush the bad. Among those good things that need to be prioritized and kept is a strong public option. One that provides the necessary competition to encourage health insurance companies to reduce the costs of medical coverage. A bill that establishes a mandate for coverage without a public option is simply unacceptable. The option for states to opt-out of the proposed “Insurance Exchange” system and develop their own single-payer system, must remain in the final bill and be strengthened to take effect immediately rather than years after the exchanges are established.

The Senate’s excise tax on high-end health plans must go, as must the House provision regarding abortion coverage. The funding for community health centers that is in both bills needs to be funded at the $14 billion level in the House version. The final bill must prohibit insurance companies from basing their premium costs on individual risk and allow premium adjustments only based upon age and geography.

Like I’ve said the legislation is far from perfect but, if we can keep the good and dump the bad, we’re on our way towards joining the rest of the industrialized world by ensuring that our people have affordable basic health care coverage.

  3 comments for “Senate Passes Largest Health Care Expansion Since Medicare

  1. Eric Cooper
    December 25, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    The House plan is decent enough, the Senate plan is garbage. Thanks to the currently prevailing political atmosphere, the Senate plan is the one going into law. It is NOT reform , it is only the bare beginnings of reform.

  2. Robert Lauten
    December 26, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    H.R. 3590, ( gives authority to the Secretary to implement the recommendations contained in a proposal that is submitted by the President to Congress. ( `(e) `(1) IN GENERAL ) (This is on page 11 of SEC.3403).

    ` (e) Implementation of Proposal-
    `(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall, except as provided in paragraph (3), implement the recommendations contained in a proposal submitted by the President to Congress pursuant to this section on August 15 of the year of the year in which the proposal is so submitted.

    Nothing in paragraph (3) shall be construed to affect the authority of the Secretary to implement any recommendation contained in a proposal or advisory report under this section to the extent that the Secretary otherwise has the authority to implement such recommendation administratively.

    `(5) LIMITATION ON REVIEW- There shall be no administrative or judicial review under section 1869, section 1878, or otherwise of the implementation by the Secretary under this subsection of the recommendations contained in a proposal.

    The U.S. Senate, 58 Democrats, 2 Independents, gave the U.S. President the authority to be the {[(“Death Panel” )]}, in H.R. 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

  3. Jo
    December 28, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I have provided health care in a clinic environment and while the majority of people served were decent, there was a small element with an entitlement mentality who would become violent if they had to wait for care. So if you add more people to the rolls, less providers, care will be rationed. Will it be survival of the fittest? The squeakey wheel? The political and Hollywood elite? The rich think they can buy their way to health care, however they also will lose because there will be no capitalistic incentive to innovate and discover new treatment and therapies that benefits society aas a whole. Be careful what you wish for.

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