Analysis of the New Health Care Bill

The new health care legislation has been called one of the most historic bills passed in recent generations. But outside of the media fanfare and Democratic Party sales pitch, people across the country are trying to make sense of the new bill and understand if it will solve our health care crisis.  The answer, sadly, is no.

The bill contains a few good measures but it keeps the current dysfunctional system intact. Here’s why:

  • Tens of millions remain uninsured or without adequate coverage and tens of thousands continue to die each year because of lack of access to health care:   The bill contains no cost controls.  Proponents of the bill even attempt that health care costs will continue to rise.   The uninsured and people with inadequate coverage will have to choose between financial ruin or potential death due to their medical condition.   Though there is a major expansion of Medicaid in the bill will help millions gain access to health care, the funding increase is only temporary (2 year federal funding increase), leaving it open to state budget cuts after the funding runs out.  Doctors’ will also continue to refuse to take Medicaid patients because it pays them less than patients with Medicare and/or private insurance.
  • Maintains the power of the private insurance, pharmaceutical industries:   The bill leaves the for-profit health system intact, allowing insurance companies to continue to increase rates to pad their profits, to deny care for “fraud or intentional misrepresentation,” and charge more to elderly customers and people that fail “wellness” programs because of a medical condition.   With no cost controls, insurance companies will either charge more to people with pre-existing conditions or hike costs up for all their customers to keep profits up.   It also puts hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies into the pockets of the insurance industry and allows the pharmaceutical industry to continue to raise drug prices without threat of generic competition for 12 years.
  • Criminalizes the uninsured:   It forces people to purchase private insurance or pay fines of up to $697 by 2017.
  • Does not address health disparities across communities:   The bill does nothing concrete to improve health disparities experienced in communities of color.   It discriminates against immigrants, forcing lawful immigrants to wait years for Medicaid eligibility and excluding undocumented immigrants, many of them who pay federal and state taxes, from any government programs or from purchasing insurance, even with their own money, on the new state-run insurance exchanges that will go into affect in 2014.   Women are also discriminated against in the bill.   The legislation erodes reproductive rights by not allowing taxpayer funds to be used to cover abortions and keeps loopholes in place, at least until 2017, to charge higher gender-based rates to companies with a majority female workforce.

The only legislative solution to our health care crisis still remains expanding and improving Medicare to cover everyone in the US.   Improved Medicare for all would provide everyone in the United States with access to quality care for all medically necessary services, save our economy hundreds of billions each year, and give patients free choice of doctor, hospital.

For more info on the new bill and its failure to create meaningful health care reform, check out these great articles:

Health Care: What Did We Get? Where Are We? And, Where Do We Go From Here? Huffington Post article posted by Kevin Zeese of Prosperity Agenda

Medicare-for-All Advocates Say Bill Fails to Meet Needs of People by Healthcare-NOW!

Onward to Medicare for All by Healthcare-NOW!

Pro-single-payer doctors: Health bill leaves 23 million uninsured by Physicians for a National Health Program

Diary of a Wimpy Health Care Bill Huffington Post article posted by National Nurses United President Ann De Moro

U.S. Citizen and Immigrant Treatment Chart for Health Care Reform Legislation report by the National Council of La Raza

Health insurers weighing options to get ahead of reform April 18, 2010 Washington Post article

Faces of Health Debate Point to Law’s Complexity April 16, 2010 New York Times article

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A Message From CUUSP

As Congress and President Obama gear up for bipartisan debate on healthcare reform, I hope they will remember what initially impelled the need for reform: the 45 million people in our nation who lack health insurance and the 45 thousand people who die each year because they can’t get the healthcare they need.

Congress’ top priority must be to ensure that the plan they choose covers the most people possible. In order to achieve this and not break the bank, they need to set up a system that is highly efficient – so that the majority of the money that patients and government put into their healthcare goes towards paying healthcare providers for the patient care they provide and towards the medicines and devices necessary to achieve this care.

This type of efficiency and expanded coverage is at work in our current Medicare program for elderly Americans. What Congress needs to do is to expand this program to cover all people in the United States. Under this type of plan, $400 billion additional dollars would be freed up each year to go towards making and keeping people healthy. Given the growing numbers of people dying, suffering, and going bankrupt due to lack of healthcare, the need for Improved Medicare For All has never been more urgent.

CUUSP Delegation Meets with City Council

Following the lead of the US Conference of Mayors and over fifty state, country and city councils, all of which have passed resolutions in support of single-payer legislation, members of CUUSP met last week with representatives from Councilmember Vincent Gray’s office to request that the Councilmember introduce a similar resolution to be voted on by Council. This resolution would affirm the city’s commitment to upholding the human right to healthcare. While the representatives were willing to listen to the coalition’s ideas, they were skeptical that a large number of DC residents actually support single payer.

National polls show that about 65% of Americans support the idea of a universal, national health insurance system and CUUSP members suspect that number is similar, if not higher, in DC. The meeting with Council has reinvigorating our efforts to circulate our petition and gather endorsements from local organizations in support of the proposed resolution.

CUUSP pushes for DC City Council Resolution on Single Payer

In an effort to raise local awareness about single-payer and to send a clear message to Congress and the rest of the country, CUUSP has recently launched a campaign to get the DC City Council to pass a resolution in support of H.R. 676, the house bill that would create a single-payer health system in the US. The US Conference of Mayors and over fifty state, county and city councils have passed similar resolutions in support of single-payer legislation. We have launched a petition in support of the resolution and are working with City Council to move our work forward. You can see and sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/demand-the-dc-city-council-support-medicare-for-all.

Opinion: House Bill must go further to ensure universal coverage

The whole country was watching last week as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the House’s combined health care reform bill, declaring that lawmakers were “on the cusp of delivering on the promise of making affordable, quality health insurance available to every American.” When we consider the contents of the bill, however, it’s doubtful that the proposed bill will actually live up to Pelosi’s claims – too many Americans will remain uncovered. The plan laid out in the bill does include the much-contested “public option,” which has been heralded as a strategy to keep both private and public insurance choices affordable. Nevertheless, the version of the public option included in the bill is much weaker than the version originally being suggested by advocates for universal health coverage. This watered-down version does not fix reimbursement rates at Medicare levels, which will allow these rates to be tied to those of the large insurance corporations, which are on the rise. Without a more robust public option, costs will continue to rise, federal subsidies will most likely not be able to keep pace, and many American families will still end up struggling to pay for health insurance.

What our country needs is a plan that will be truly accessible to all people in this country and that will help control costs. A “Medicare for all”-type system would provide universal coverage and will keep costs down by eliminating excess administrative costs and by preventing serious illness and hospital stays through more accessible preventive care. A public option that sets reimbursement rates at Medicare levels gets us closer to this model, and actually has been shown by the Congressional Budget Office to save more money than the less robust public option. House leadership must vigorously fight to improve the current health insurance reform bill – to allow for a floor vote on Representative Anthony Weiner’s “Medicare for all” (a.k.a. single-payer) amendment and to advocate for fixing reimbursement rates at Medicare pricing – before they can claim to have delivered on the promise of accessible health coverage for all.

CUUSP members participate in Mobilization for Health Care

On October 15th, a number of CUUSP members participated in the morning picket/sit-in at the offices of Wellpoint in Washington D.C. The protest was a part of the newly-begun Mobilizations for Health Care that are occurring throughout the country. In D.C., Wellpoint executives were asked to come down to talk with the organizers and hear their demands to stop denying people care, but they refused to engage in conversation. About 12 people blocked the sidewalk in front of the building, which provoked a police presence, however no arrests were made.

The purpose of the Mobilizations for Health Care is to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to send a clear message to Congress and insurance companies that Americans are fed up with the policies of insurance companies and the direction of health care “reform,” which every day seems to concede more power and privileges to insurance companies, placing the interests of these corporations before the well-being of the people. The protest in Washington D.C. received media coverage to help spread the activists’ message, as did the 8 other protests that were staged the same day across the country.

News Channel 8 coverage of protests: http://www.news8.net/news/stories/1009/668931.html

Mobilization for Health Care website: mobilizeforhealthcare.org

Mt. Pleasant teach-in a success

Our Wednesday community meeting/teach-in was a success. About 20 people came out, some newbies to single-payer as well as long-time advocates. Our knowledgeable speakers shared information and even those who already knew a lot about single-payer health care and health reform found great value in the event. As one attendee put it, “I go to a lot of meetings with left-leaning people and a lot of times they’re pretty standard, but the speakers tonight have really lit a fire under me to advocate for single-payer!”
[[[photos coming soon]]]

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