Thursday, October 29, 2009

New House Health Care Reform Bill Unveiled: Get informed!!!!!

Today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) unveiled a new health care package (http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_ahcaa.pdf) that will cost $894 billion. The new house bill is roughly 500 pages longer and $300 billion less than the original House bill. My knee jerk reaction is to ask Speaker Pelosi to go back and craft a bill that is another 1500 pages longer so it will cost $0. All kidding aside the House Bill does cover more people than the current Senate bill; 36M to 29M people. To assist cover some of the cost will be 5.4% surtax on income, thus bringing the IRS into your health care, on individuals earning more than $500K and couples making more than $1M. Although the House bill does contain a public option, it is not based on Medicare rates. Instead the Government will have to negotiate with hospital, clinics and doctors to establish rates.

On the surface this makes sense but it begs the question: How can the government be referee and player at the same time? White House Speaker Robert Gibbs told reporters, "You've seen people say that this is going to drive policies up in price. I don't think that – I think whenever you're adding more choices through greater competition into the health care system, you're driving down costs. That's what the president wants to see. That's a big aim in health care reform, and I think that's what we're working toward" (http://abcnews.go.com/WN/HealthCare/house-democrats-unveil-health-care-bill-public-option/Story?id=8946527&page=2). While I agree with Gibbs that adding more choices will drive down costs through greater competition, but that requires more than one choice. Adding just a public option is not the plural form of additional choice that Gibbs, the White House, and Democrats are pushing. We need more than one choice to drive down costs.

That being said, it does not mean that some things are good in the bill. The elimination of pre-existing conditions and caps on benefits is a good step to make health insurance portable. The House bill does contain a mandate on all Americans have coverage with the belief that it will stem uninsured patients but the penalty for not having health insurance does not deter one from going without. There is another way Congress can achieve the insurance mandate without creating uproar.

The other way is through Medical Savings Programs that replace Medicare and Medicaid for those under 55 years of age. All that needs to be done is to divert all the money deducted from ones paycheck currently for Medicare and Medicaid to a medical savings account (MSA). The MSA would be established and Congress will not be able to touch it, as they did with SSN, then as one required health coverage the money would be there. If one decided to use the MSA as their sole insurance coverage and to pay out of pocket one could. By making all medical records electronic, it would be easy enough for health care providers to collect for MSA's through automatic deductions.

I encourage everyone to read the House bill. I have posted the link above. I know I will. Be informed, make your own decision, and then inform your Congress representative on how you feel about the bill. Also, let's discuss it here and other places to make sure all aspects of the bill are properly vetted before passing the bill.