20 Dec 2009
December 20, 2009

A Good Health Care Bill

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Jeepers. You wouldn’t think it would be necessary to remind folks about all the good provisions in the current health care bill. Others have looked at the bill in great detail and provided useful analyses.  See, e.g,  Paul Krugman, Bill Clinton, Victoria Kennedy, Nate Silver, and Nancy-Ann DeParle (Director of the White House Office of Health Reform).

My point is that President Obama has focused intensely on this issue and succeeded in getting support from a supermajority in the Senate for a bill.  This necessarily involved compromises – that’s how governing works.  And, of course, this isn’t the final bill and, if the Senate passes it, the conference committee can work on further improvements.  If the bill dies, it will be another 20 years before another Democratic President summons the courage to try to fix the system.  And sure, from a political perspective, delivering on health care reform before moving onto the other issues on the agenda is a good thing for Democrats.

In the meantime, here is a reminder of some of the things the Senate Bill does:

  • Extend health care coverage to more than 30 million Americans who lack it.
  • End discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  • Impose new regulations to curb abuses of the insurance industry.
  • Reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the first decade, and more than $1 trillion in the decade after that.
  • Create a new insurance exchange where consumers can shop for affordable coverage that complies with new federal guidelines.
  • Provide federal subsidies to help defray the costs of purchasing insurance for lower and middle income individuals and families.
  • Protect access to care by banning immediately limits on lifetime limits on benefits.
  • Implement a health insurance tax credit for small businesses in 2010.
  • Focus Medicare on the quality of care, not just the quantity of tests and treatments, and thus reduce health care costs.
  • Impose penalties on companies that “arbitrarily jack up prices” in advance of the legislation taking effect.
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