Thursday, March 5, 2009

Heathcare Reform This Year


Since Harry Truman, every Democratic President has made an effort to enact comprehensive healthcare reform legislation. Each time, special interest groups blocked the effort. We have made progress along the way, with Social Security, Medicare, and SCHIP, but still "no cigar." Check out the historical timeline.

Officially, today President Obama began to fulfill his campaign pledge on healthcare reform, which Americans have repeatedly said they want.
President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to forge a new US healthcare system this year by confounding entrenched interests which crushed the hopes for reform of several of his predecessors.

"This time is different," Obama said as he opened a White House "summit" on healthcare with doctors, nurses, lawmakers and business groups to launch the politically perilous process of driving a reform bill through Congress.

"Our goal will be to enact comprehensive health care reform by the end of this year. That is our commitment, that is our goal." [Google News]

If you have not engaged in any of the conversations so far about healthcare, visit the new website at http://www.healthreform.gov and submit information about your healthcare situation and air your views. The time for healthcare reform cannot wait with over 47 million Americans without healthcare and many others under-insured. Health care costs are the number one reason that people file for bankruptcy. This affects all of us, insured or not. America deserves better, especially "the least of these." Many of my friends have been personally affected by not having adequate insurance. How about your friends?

One question many people ask is if they will be able to keep their current insurance. That was Obama's campaign pledge, which is a distinct difference from Clinton's plan. You'll also be able to choose your own MD just as you do now. Even the current Medicare program gives you the right to choose your doctor.

How do we pay for healthcare reform?
  • Obama says that much of the money will come from allowing the Bush tax-cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans making more than $250,000 a year and by limiting their tax deductions.
  • He also plans to cut payments to Medicare Advantage HMOs, which is estimated to save about $175 billion over ten years. This Bush-era program was an insurance industry giveaway that did not include competitive bidding to provide services. Obama will make the insurance companies pay (bid) to "play."
  • Obama said in his budget that another $700 billion a year could be saved on healthcare by moving toward proven and successful practices adopted by lower-cost areas and hospitals.
Such savings are huge and could pay for universal heathcare coverage without any additional tax increases.
The cost of providing health care to seniors is rising more than twice as fast in Dallas as in San Diego, and Medicare now spends nearly three times more to care for its enrollees in Miami than it does in Honolulu. This illustrates how huge inefficiencies in the U.S. health care system are hamstringing the nation’s ability to expand access to care, according to a new analysis of Medicare spending by researchers of the Dartmouth Atlas Project published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. [The Dartmouth Institute]
You can be sure that some in the Party of No will be opposed because their big fat leader, Rush Limbaugh, is opposed. Well folks, he has millions. Does that give you a clue that he doesn't need health insurance. He just needs a personal health plan. Do you really want to be talking about healthcare with someone who is so obese, stupid, hooked on prescription drugs, and smokes cigars? I don't.
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