Health Care Reform Now in US Senate
Health care reform in U.S. Senate after House OKs ‘public option’
Ignoring the more than trillion-dollar price tag and the concerns of citizens, employers and business groups from across the country, the U.S. House passed a health care reform package with a controversial “public option.”
The so-called public option is a health insurance plan that would be offered by the federal government in addition to—and in competition with—private-sector health plans. It would give the federal government significantly more control over the nation’s health care system, but the costs would be enormous, as confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office.
All five Connecticut U.S. representatives voted in favor of the sweeping legislation that will require new or higher taxes on businesses, individuals and even the sellers of medical devices to pay for the expanded government role in health care.
However, the issue of health care reform has now moved to the U.S. Senate, where the public option has less support.
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (ID), for one, has said he would align with Republicans in a filibuster against the legislation if it includes a public option. He said he wants “focused, effective health care reform,” but nothing that would “hamper our economic recovery or add to our crippling national debt.”
At the heart of the debate over the public option are both its huge cost and questions about the ability of government to provide effective health care. Both federal and state governments now seriously underfund Medicare and Medicaid programs, leaving the private sector to subsidize the balance. It’s not likely a public option would improve matters but in fact only make matters worse.
Why? In order to make the public option work, even more health care costs would have to be shifted to employers and others with private insurance–and that will make health insurance less affordable for more people.
While health care reform is needed, the system shouldn’t be made worse in the process.
Hopefully, the Senate will work on a health care reform bill that will achieve lower costs, higher quality and greater access. This could be accomplished by adopting reforms that require the government to pay its fair share, ban preexisting condition exclusions, institute an individual mandate, better utilize technology and improve people’s health. What's more, lawmakers could stabilize the medical malpractice system so doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums are reduced and the practice of defensive medicine is curbed.
These commonsense reforms can bring about effective and affordable health care reform.
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