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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