Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Democrats' House Health Care Bill

On Friday the House Democrats unveiled their House Health Care Bill in response to President Obama's mission to revamp our nation's health care system.

The Democrats claim that under this bill, 95% of Americans would have health insurance, compared with the estimated 47 million uninsured Americans under age 65 in our country today. The bill also touts a new public health insurance plan which will compete with private plans already in existence.

Republicans and private insurance companies are generating serious opposition, suggesting that this new approach could lead to government takeover of health care.

Under the Democrat’s House Health Care Bill...
  • All Americans would be required to have health insurance
  • Employers would be required to provide health insurance or pay a fee equivalent to 8% of their payroll
  • Insurance companies could no longer deny coverage or charge higher premiums for those with pre-existing conditions
  • Eligibility for Medicaid would be expanded
  • Prescription drug coverage under Medicare would be expanded
  • A new advisory committee lead by the surgeon general would standardize coverage
  • Out-of-pocket spending would be capped
  • Community health centers and increased funding for state and local public health programs would be expanded
  • New national service corps for health would be expanded
  • Medicare would be modernized and costs would be controlled by preventing waste, fraud, abuse and reducing paperwork

The bill would allow for a tax on individuals who do not comply with the new insurance standards. The tax would be proportional to one’s income, would not exceed the cost of a basic insurance policy, and individuals may be exempt in cases of hardship.

While the bill appears to be comprehensive, it is impossible to form a complete opinion about the bill until a cost estimate becomes available. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have shared how they plan to fund their respective bills.

Under this bill, I am of course seriously concerned with what reproductive health services are available for women in the possible new public insurance option. This discussion provides the perfect opportunity to make sure reproductive health needs are acknowledged and included in any new legislation.

Within our current health care system, women endure serious barriers to proper health care as they suffer higher health costs compared to men and are less likely than men to be eligible for coverage from their employers. According to this fact sheet, there are some major health provisions for women in the draft of the house bill including banning gender rating so women cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions or a history of health problems, which often includes survivors of domestic violence.

We need to advocate for comprehensive care for women that includes standardized reproductive health services as basic human rights. Extensive evidence proves that women’s overall health is directly linked to their reproductive health, thus any effort to improve the system, and therefore our nation’s health, must be rooted in providing accessible, affordable and quality reproductive health care for women.

Health care reform is complex and confusing but this interactive website is a great resource where you can compare proposals. While many of the specific details are unknown at this point, educate yourself about the bill and follow its development as it moves through Congress. Comment on this blog post, tweet your thoughts and read this fantastic report for more specifics.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Thank you for this comprehensive review of the health care bills under consideration. It's the clearest explanation I've seen and I appreciate the research that supports the article. I'm worried that if there is too much emphasis on choice is included in this bill, the whole thing will go down the drain for the wrong reasons.