Health Bill Passes Key Senate Hurdle; Legislation Restricts Abortion Funding, Stripped of Public Option, Medicare Expansion. The legislation has no public option, no expansion of Medicare eligibility and includes restrictions on the use of federal funding for abortions. We speak with Salon.com blogger, Glenn Greenwald.(The vote, of course, didn't "break" any actual filibuster; it prevented the threat of one being realized--W)
What it (the Senate bill) does do, according to Jane Hamsher @ FDL is:
- Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations -- whether you want to or not
- If you refuse to buy the insurance, you'll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS
- After being forced to pay thousands in premiums for junk insurance, you can still be on the hook for up to $11,900 a year in out-of-pocket medical expenses.
- Massive restriction on a woman's right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court
- Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-ays
- Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won't see any benefits -- like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions -- until 2014 when the program begins.
- Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others
- Grants monopolies to to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market.
- No reimportation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years
- The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of 4 will rise an average of $1000 a year -- meaning in 10 years, you family's insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now.
PNHP (Physicians for National Health Program) has weighed in with the following Jeremiad:
It is with great sadness that we urge you to vote against the health care reform legislation now before you. As physicians, we are acutely aware of the unnecessary suffering that our nation’s broken health care financing system inflicts on our patients. We make no common cause with the Republicans’ obstructionist tactics or alarmist rhetoric. However, we have concluded that the Senate bill’s passage would bring more harm than good.
We are fully cognizant of the salutary provisions included in the legislation, notably an expansion of Medicaid coverage, increased funds for community clinics and regulations to curtail some of private insurers’ most egregious practices. Yet these are outweighed by its central provisions – particularly the individual mandate – that would reinforce private insurers’ stranglehold on care. Those who dislike their current employer-sponsored coverage would be forced to keep it. Those without insurance would be forced to pay private insurers’ inflated premiums, often for coverage so skimpy that serious illness would bankrupt them. And the $476 billion in new public funds for premium subsidies would all go to insurance firms, buttressing their financial and political power, and rendering future reform all the more difficult.
Some paint the Senate bill as a flawed first step to reform that will be improved over time, citing historical examples such as Social Security. But where Social Security established the nidus of a public institution that grew over time, the Senate bill proscribes any such new public institution. Instead, it channels vast new resources – including funds diverted from Medicare – into the very private insurers who caused today’s health care crisis. Social Security’s first step was not a mandate that payroll taxes which fund pensions be turned over to Goldman Sachs!
While the fortification of private insurers is the most malignant aspect of the bill, several other provisions threaten harm to vulnerable patients, including:* The bill’s anti-abortion provisions would restrict reproductive choice, compromising the health of women and adolescent girls.Congress’ capitulation to insurers – along with concessions to the pharmaceutical industry – fatally undermines the economic viability of reform. The bill would inflate the already crushing burden of insurance-related paperwork that currently siphons $400 billion from care annually. According to CMS’ own projections, the bill will cause U.S. health costs to increase even more rapidly than presently, and budget neutrality is to be achieved by draining funds from Medicare and an accounting trick – front-loading the new revenues while delaying most new coverage until 2014. As homeowners seduced into balloon mortgages have learned, pushing costs off to the future is neither prudent nor sustainable.
* The new 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans – deceptively labeled a “Cadillac tax” – would hit many middle-income families. The costs of group insurance are driven largely by regional health costs and the demography of the covered group. Hence, the tax targets workers in firms that employ more women (whose costs of care are higher than men’s), and older and sicker employees, particularly those in high-cost regions such as Maine and New York.
* The bill would drain $43 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the 23 million who will remain uninsured even if the bill works as planned. These threatened hospitals are also a key resource for emergency care, mental health care and other services that are unprofitable for hospitals under current payment regimes. In many communities, severely ill patients will be left with no place to go – a human rights abuse.
* The bill would leave hundreds of millions of Americans with inadequate insurance – an “actuarial value” as low as 60 percent of actual health costs. Predictably, as health costs continue to grow, more families will face co-payments and deductibles so high that they preclude adequate access to care. Such coverage is more akin to a hospital gown than to a warm winter coat.
We ask that you defeat the bill currently under debate, and immediately move to consider the single-payer approach – an expanded and improved Medicare-for-All program – which prioritizes the advancement of our nation’s health over the enhancement of private, profit-seeking interests.
"Saying that it's imperative to pass any health care bill because it helps some people ignores those that it hurts -- while insurance company stocks jump. But that's what happens when "stakeholders" get to carve up the health care bill first and foremost, while the people it's meant to help are secondary to whatever Aetna wants.""People" are mere chips in the game, used to bluff or bargain or intimidate, to achieve CorpoRat ends. We are being 'ruled' by a bunch of tinhorn gamblers. What we need is a couple of rails, some tar, feathers, and some people brandishing pitchforks and burning brands...Though, by seeming to advocate such things, I could be prosecuted for inciting terrorism, under the PATRIOT ACT that Prez. Shamwow vowed to repair...