Thursday, December 24, 2009

Comparing Health Care Bills

Comment to Worc. T&G 12/24/09:

House bill: 6 million more covered than Senate bill, still leaving 18 million uninsured. House bill expands Medicaid to more 'working poor' than Senate plan.

House: paid for with taxes on wealthy; Senate: taxes on wealthy and upper-middle class, fines on uninsured and taxes on good insurance plans.

Senate bill fines the uninsured and provides a tax break, House bill imposes tax penalty on uninsured and provides a subsidy.

House requires employers to provide coverage and gives tax credits to help smallest businesses pay; Senate: small fine for employees not covered.

Senate bill would allow plans that pay only 60% of medical costs. House bill leaves that to a committee.

Both plans prohibit denial of coverage for pre-exiisting conditions. National physician and nurses groups point out these protections have many loopholes.

Both would provide voluntary long-term care plans.

House bill would close the drug coverage hole in Medicare, while Senate bill would make it smaller. Both would give drug companies new patent protections.

Both: a national insurance exchange. Senate: national plans, privately owned, would be offered. House: a public plan offered.

House bill, but not Senate's, would strip the insurance companies of their anti-trust exemption.

House would let the undocumented buy insurance on the exchanges with their own money, Senate would not.

Both would make abortion coverage rare in plans sold through the insurance exchange.

My call: Senate bill is a loser, a huge giveaway to the insurance industry, no cost control. If that is what comes out of committee, our legislators should vote to kill it.

House bill is marginally worth passing, with needed insurance reforms and some cost control - if the abortion restrictions can be pulled out of it.

Neither will end the health care crisis or meet the need for real reform. That will require an improved Medicare for all, and eliminating the parasitic health insurance industry.
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