March 11, 2010

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“It ain’t over ‘till it’s over!”

Yogi Berra said it. Let’s hope he’s right! The wasted and pathetically anemic piece of healthcare legislation before Congress may not even garner enough votes to pass as it stands today. What’s in it? Three things:

1. Protection from some insurance company abuses:

  • You may not be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.
  • You may not be hit with arbitrary premium hikes or have your coverage revoked just because you actually may need it.
  • You’ll have limits on out-of-pocket expenses for your care.

2. Guarantee of some choice:

  • If you like your current doctor and you like your current plan, you can keep them.

3. A possibility that it will reduce the cost of care for families, businesses, and government (or so they say):

  • Uninsured individuals and small business owners will become part of a negotiating pool, which may help lower prices and increase choice.
  • Struggling middle-class families will receive a tax credit to make coverage more affordable – if they have enough money to buy it in the first place.

But the public option is still alive (more or less)

With more than 40 senators publicly willing to vote for a healthcare reform reconciliation package that includes a public option, there’s still a slim chance to reinsert it into the final bill. Sen. Dick Durbin said Thursday he will whip up support for whatever package comes through the House. If the House moves first, the Senate would essentially face an up-or-down vote on whatever Pelosi sends over. Durbin was asked by the Huffington Post if he would whip up a reconciliation package from the House that included a public option. An analysis of past statements and positions taken by members of the Democratic caucus indicates there could be 53 votes for a public option and perhaps even several more. Wouldn’t that be dynamite!

“So how much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it? How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance? How many more businesses have to drop coverage?… How many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid? … When is the right time [for health insurance reform]? If not now, when?”—President Obama, March 8, 2010

We’ll know by next week.

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