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US House Democrats Unveil a Health Care Plan 925

gollum123 sends in this piece from a political blog in the NY Times. Here is the text of the bill in question (PDF). "House Democrats on Friday answered President Obama's call for a sweeping overhaul of the health care system by putting forward [an] 852-page draft bill that would require all Americans to obtain health insurance, force employers to provide benefits or help pay for them, and create a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers — a move that Republicans will bitterly oppose. ... But the chairmen said they still did not know how much the plan would cost, even as they pledged to pay for it by cutting Medicare spending and imposing new, unspecified taxes. The three chairmen described their bill as a starting point in a weeks-long legislative endeavor that they said would dominate Congress for the summer and ultimately involve the full panorama of stakeholders in the health care industry, which accounts for about one-sixth of the nation's economy. ... House Republicans, who have had no involvement in the development of the health legislation so far, quickly denounced the Democrats' proposal as a thinly disguised plan for an eventual government takeover of the health care system. ... The House Democrats' plan is one of three distinct efforts underway on Capitol Hill to draft the health overhaul legislation. In the Senate, both the Finance Committee and the health committee have separate bills in the works, and in recent days those efforts seem to have stumbled."
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US House Democrats Unveil a Health Care Plan

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  • Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alethes ( 533985 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:30PM (#28404909)

    "But the chairmen said they still did not know how much the plan would cost..."

    I'm not sure the politicians care how much it's going to cost since it's not their money.

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:33PM (#28404935)

    Will this bill stop the pre existing condition BS? Let you buy any plan that you want? UN tie it from your job?

    How about having a Bankruptcy that is just for Health stuff and does not show up on any back round check?

    Not let people ask about you medial history before offering your a job?

    Make it so you can not be dropped by a insurance provider.

  • by TheCouchPotatoFamine ( 628797 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:35PM (#28404959)
    It seems obvious from this look into the early stage of a house bill that 'democrats' and 'republicans' are acting as either side of a polar debate, one proposing knowing it's plan leans far too far one way, confident that the other side will try as hard as possible the other way, reaching a stalemate.

    it's kinda like the game my brother and I would play as children splitting a piece of cake , one cuts - the other chooses.

    Of course, what happens when there is more then two ways to look at a problem, i don't know.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are two sides:

      1. The entire modern world that has low cost universal health care

      2. The Democrats and Republicans on the other side with Republicans off in 'teh free market' la-la land and Democrats too fearful of the 'Insurance' company lobbying/campaign contribution dollars to propose any real long term solution

    • by theodicey ( 662941 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @07:42PM (#28405635)

      Health care isn't going to be Democrats negotiating with Republicans. I doubt the Republicans are going to contribute anything constructive to health reform, and so far they haven't put anything useful on the table. I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.

      The current system is great for Republican politicians -- lots of fundraising to be done among rich healthcare CEOs and rich doctors, lots of noble rhetoric about the glories of the free market, the risks of "socialism" and sober warnings about the risks of change ( the system that every other developed country in the world currently has).

      Also, if the government started providing health care as good as the VA or Medicaid, people might realize that the government can be more competent than the market (again, as it is in every other country) and Republicans would be forced to change. Instead, I expect they will try to scuttle the bill and leave us with the status quo, the world's most inefficient health care system by a factor of 2.

      It'll be a negotiation like you say, but between Democrats and right-wing/corporate Democrats, or between the more populist Democrats in the House and richer corporate Democrats in the Senate.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:38PM (#28404991) Homepage Journal

    Is that the House Democrats are essentially following the blueprint for Healthcare provided by Republican Mitt Romney in Massachussetts. So far, the Massachusetts model has pretty much worked, in that, they did reduce the number of uninsured significantly. However, costs for the state provided side of the plan have come in way more than anyone either promised or expected. Quite frankly, the expansion of the health insurance pool did not increase the economies of scale and drive down costs for everyone. Now everyone just has procedures that they cannot afford done.

    The other irony is that Obama's said to be considering the McCain plan's idea of taxing health care benefits and requiring employers to purchase it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 )

      Now everyone just has procedures that they cannot afford done.

      Most of my friends from work go to their doctor whenever they have a cold. Its fucking ridiculous and it needs to stop, but it wont stop until people take responsibility for their own.

      Nationalized coverage wont help. It will make it worse!

      • by Manchot ( 847225 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @07:57PM (#28405787)
        But there's also a flip side to this: people who are uninsured or underinsured don't want to spend a lot of money on a doctor's visit, so they neglect conditions that are easy to treat early on and end up having to go to the ER when the condition becomes more serious. Preventative medicine is a major cost saver.
      • by Fex303 ( 557896 ) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @01:29AM (#28408037)

        Most of my friends from work go to their doctor whenever they have a cold.

        Then your friends are idiots.

        Nationalized coverage wont help. It will make it worse!

        Nothing will ever stop idiots from being idiots. But this myth that if people are able to see doctors then they will swarm to the nearest medical clinic on a daily basis needs to be addressed. Look at places like the UK or Australia - what you're describing simply doesn't happen.

        Going to the doctor is not a particularly fun experience. Sensible people only go to the doctor when there's a reason to. Common cold? Don't go - the doctor can't do anything. Food poisoning? Go - antibiotics will fix you right up. As another poster has mentioned (and numerous studies have shown), easy access to frontline health care ends up creating a lot LESS of a burden on the health care system as problems are diagnosed at an earlier stage when they are more easily correctable or preventable.

        Cheaper system and a higher standard of living! What are you Americans so afraid of?

        PS. I have experience with both the US and Australian medical systems. The Aussie (single payer, government) system is light-years better - faster, simpler, better care, and peace of mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:48PM (#28405083)

    The question you have to ask yourself is, do you think access to health care is a right or do you think that it is just another commodity to be bought and sold. If you say health care is a right then you have to be willing to pay for everyone to have it, it will be expensive, very expensive. If you think it's a commodity then you need to admit that poor people don't deserve to see doctors, or deserve a substantially lower quality of care from understaffed and overwhelmed free clinics.

    I happen to think health care is something society needs to provide to everyone equally. I know where the money can come from without raising taxes too. I have my eye set on the bloated defense budget. Cut the military fully in half (by dollars spent) and we'd still have the best armed forces in the world for DEFENSE of the nation and we'd have the money to take care of every sick and injured man woman and child.

    There are other things we can do to reduce costs as well such as approve the use of drugs that are already available in Europe and Canada and have been proven safe, and reform the liability insurance system.

  • by darjen ( 879890 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @07:05PM (#28405255)

    and create a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers

    We see what you are doing here. Government provision of services, by definition, is the exact opposite of free market competition. When you take money from people by force and give it to others, that is NOT competition. Please stop saying that it is.

  • Do not be afraid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @07:08PM (#28405273) Homepage Journal
    The current plan is appears to be much more moderate than universal health care, which means that we will be free to continue letting children die at birth while giving old irresponsible people 3 and 4 bypasses.

    First, it appears to requires universal coverage. This is good. I remember a long time ago when universal coverage was not the norm for automobiles. All these irresponsible people would drive around, damage other peoples property, and then not pay. What was more they often continued to damage other peoples property with little consequence. This meant that those who were responsible had to pay higher premiums. Now everyone has to have proof of financial responsibility. One consequence of this is that I can get coverage against the irresponsible motorist for very little money. The benefit of health care should be similar. No more irresponsible people going to the hospital without health insurance. This should mean that those of us who actually pay for medical treatment, instead of expecting others to cover the bills,

    Second, there will be a public option. Auto insurance in many states has the same option. Most of us do not use the public option. Most of us still pay private firms to carry our insurance. The public option is used by those those who cannot or chooses not to afford private insurance. Sure this public option costs money, but not nearly as much as having some irresponsible asshole crash into your house in his SUV, then discovering he has no insurance or assets because all his or her income went to pay the note of the truck. Every uninsured person costs us money. The public option will insure that hospitals and doctors get some money for every patient, so they do not have to gouge the rest of us.

    Third, and this is what I hope, that they reform payments and set standards for care. For instance, it make no sense to pay 80% of a standard cost for a procedure, when in most cases doctors charge double the standard costs. Pay 100% of the standard cost, and don't worry about co-pays. The co-pay is built in with real and opportunity costs. Likewise, set minimum standard for diagnostics. Hospitals are spending money on proton accelerators rather than prene care. We can live without proton accelerators and other machines that go beep. What we need is care.

    And this is what I think many people are afraid of. That medicine is going to go back to giving care, rather than huge returns on investments for the HMO or funding for lavish and extravagant building and equipment that rich people can then put their name on because they paid half. Or, as mentioned, we might be concerned that in the US we have a higher infant mortality rate than Cuba or Hungary, the worst in the developed world.

  • Hell no. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @07:09PM (#28405293) Homepage Journal

    I've been paying for my own medical insurance out of my own pocket since I was 23, now 36. A few months ago, my automatically deducted premiums jumped from $290ish to $530ish a month. Why?

    Because Medicare sent my HMO (Group Health) a message indicating that I was on Medicare, and so they automatically combined the billing, without notifying me. I'm not even on Medicare! I may get a refund in Mid-August... meanwhile, I'm scraping by, because I saved some money for emergencies... having this happen during my regular period of unemployment (MSFT contractor 'break') makes it extra painful.

    Make healthcare more affordable, so more people will choose to have it. NOT mandatory, involving buerocrats that'll screw it up even worse. Offer tax incentives, etc to businesses to cover their employees, don't cram it as another effective mandatory tax.

  • by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @07:22PM (#28405419)

    Let's require that whatever bill they propose, that all of the US government, especially congress & house, have to operate under that bill for one year before it can be forced on the rest of us. Whatever plan they currently have is gone. They are not allowed to work outside of their proposed system. They have to use only what their bill contains, and the funding has to come as a deduction (tax) out of their salaries. The money used to provide their health care services must come from whatever they paid in, and if (when) it runs out, nobody gets any more services until more funding is available. Also, any government employee who goes outside the system must declare it on some specified national forum, so we can know about its deficiencies before it takes effect on the rest of us.

    This will show us if it is a viable plan, and that it is has enough money coming in so that extra funding is not hidden in additional taxes. Let's see how they like their own plan before we're forced into another stupid plan.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 )

      Let's require that whatever bill they propose, that all of the US government, especially congress & house, have to operate under that bill for one year before it can be forced on the rest of us.

      Or how about this? The congress already has single payer health care -- they get to pick from a list of premium plans from health insurers, and taxpayers pick up the tab. Since you want the congress to live with whatever plan they foist on us, we can go ahead tomorrow with the plan that the congress currently has -- government back private health insurance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      Well, considering part of the plan is to let people keep their current providers, I'm sure that'd work just fine. Nice of you to assume the plan is stupid though.

      The rest of the first world has national health care. They are healthier than us, live longer than us, and pay less than us. Stop believing the FUD that the Republicans are pumping out.

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @07:51PM (#28405735) Journal

    Here are the real differences between a single payer public health care provider plan and the hodgepodge private health care/insurance system we have now:

    1) under a public plan, your health care is decided by a government bureaucrat sitting in a government office. While in a private system, you health care is decided by corporate bureaucrat sitting in a corporate office.

    2) under a government plan you, or your employer would send hundreds of dollars in tax money each month to the health a agency to cover care. Under private plans, you or your employer must send hundreds of dollars each month to insurance companies each month to get coverage.

    3) Under a government plan you a guaranteed coverage. You are not under private plans.

    4) Under a government plans you are essentially covered for life. Under private plans you are limited in the number of claims you can make.

    5) From what I have seen, government plans overseas control costs by focusing on preventative care and reward doctors who get patients to quit smoking and lose weight for example. Insurance companies in the us drop patients and increase deductibles.

    6) Under a government plan, you and your doctor would have to fill out government paperwork to get benefits paid. Under the private system, each insurance company has it's own form to fill out which requires staff, meaning non-medical overhead, to proper fill out and file the forms in the proper manner.

    There, those are are the real differences.

    Basically, there are some problems the private sector is poorly equipped to solve. Medical care is one of them. Medical care is less of a free market choice and should be thought of more as an essential public utility. Market forces do not work very well do to the complexity of medical care and the urgency of catastrophic cases making comparison shopping impossible.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @08:13PM (#28405927) Homepage
    Public healthcare, while seemingly free (most people do pay for it in the end) but I'm not sure such a lawsuit friendly country can handle being told you have to wait months for treatment or that you can't have a certain treatment because it's not cost effective.

    People just assume that free healthcare means everything stays the same except it's free. That's not true.

    Granted, the healthcare I receive in the UK isn't bad. My local doctor definitely has room for improvement but my previous doctor was perfect. I just hope I don't have to deal with cancer in the UK. Despite probably being in one of the better areas as far as the whole post code lottery ordeal goes, it's always a concern I'll be told "tough luck, we're low on cash".

    When I was in the US, despite not being jobless, the hospital and state government (PA) was actually quite helpful and I only had to pay a tiny fraction of what it would have cost. Even for someone in a transitional job, which was low paying, it was quite easy to pay off. Certainly better than the $20,000+ I would have had to pay if I didn't seek help from the state and hospital.

    My case might be slightly biased since I was in a decent area of the state and the hospital doesn't deal with a load of poor people begging for free care but even with free healthcare, being in a poorer area of the UK can mean not getting a treatment someone else would get in a better off area.

    I just hope people realise that neither system is perfect and going to free healthcare will not solve everyone's problems.
  • by line-bundle ( 235965 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @08:27PM (#28406041) Homepage Journal

    The problem with the US health system is that there is no negative feedback of any sort to control costs. Places like Massachusetts actually made it worse because the state has become the policeman for the insurance industry. I have heard comparisons of health insurance and car insurance. A car is optional. Health is only optional if you are dead.

    Another point people are confusing is health *care* and health insurance. They are completely different beasts (even though they overlap a bit).

    I believe most people (in congress) who preach free markets have no idea that a free market system should have some negative feedback somewhere in the loop. The few proposals which have cost controls will not make it anywhere (sigh).

  • by oatworm ( 969674 ) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @03:09AM (#28408545) Homepage
    The biggest problem that I have with nationalized health care is that it effectively guarantees that we're stuck with paying for health care using the insurance model for the rest of our days. The trouble with insurance is that, in theory, less money is supposed to be spent than is put in. This guarantees that there will always be profiteering and "waste" - that's why insurance works. If we didn't already legislate the insurance model so thoroughly already, market-based innovations like interest-bearing health savings accounts might be able to take a better hold.

    In an ideal world, I'd like to see all health care spending be tax deductible. If my employer wants to spend money on insurance for me, great. If my employer wants to put money in an interest-bearing health account, like a 401k or something similar, so much the better, provided it's portable from job to job. Heck, if my employer just pays my bills directly - sweet! Let them earn their tax credit either way, and if I choose to do the same, well, let's encourage that, too. It'll never happen, though, especially if this bill gets passed. Besides, all of the market-based innovation in payment methods in the world isn't going to change one basic, simple fact:

    Health care is scarce.

    There is a finite supply of people willing and capable of being doctors and, due to generational constraints (fewer people in the younger generations than during the Boomer generations), there are fewer and fewer of them than there used to be. Meanwhile, more and more people are consuming more and more health care. This isn't just a case of the Baby Boomers getting older, though that's a big part of it. The other part is that the health care industry can do far more than it could in, say, 1950. In 1930, if you had an infection, they gave you sulfates and told you to start praying. Nowadays, we have books that list nothing but types of antibiotics. We can transplant organs, cure most kinds of cancer if we catch it soon enough, cure nearly any imaginable infection, and on and on and on. If I get an ingrown toenail now, I see a doctor (possibly even a podiatrist - specialist rates!). If I got an ingrown toenail in 1930, I probably would have grabbed a bottle of whiskey and a pocketknife. Simply put, the health care industry can provide far more services than it could years ago, increasing demand, while also seeing fewer and fewer people willing to provide the services. As long as that dynamic is true, it won't matter how we pay for health care. If we try to make it cheap, there will be increased scarcity, which means longer waits for procedures. If we try to make it plentiful, such that nobody has to wait, it will be expensive. That's just the way it is.

    If you really want to make health care affordable, you need to loosen up who provides non-emergency health care. This might involve getting nurses involved, but they're nearly as scarce as doctors right now. This might involve robots - heck, Japan's been playing with them in health care for years. This might involve computerized quizzes - fill in some blanks (I have the sniffles but I don't have a fever) and receive a diagnosis (You have a cold or mild allergies). In short, think of it sort of like IT. You don't need to throw a CCNA or MCITP/MCSE at every infected workstation - why should you throw a doctor at every minor ailment? Yeah, I know - when you're holding a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, but there's some wisdom here.

    In the end, no matter how you shuffle the cards around, it will never change the fact that, as long as health care is as scarce as it is (and there's no reason to suggest it won't be anytime soon), it will be expensive, one way or another. There isn't a Republican or Democrat sponsored piece of legislation in the world that will ever change that.
  • My COBRA coverage got pulled at about the 1/2 point because my old company was small and both of the spouses had coverage, so at the annual renew time, they just stopped offering health.

    After talking with an Insurance rep that I have used for company insurance at a few places, it became clear that my family and I would NEVER get personal health insurance. Currently, I suffer from chronic foot pain (for the past 6 years), my oldest son suffers from depression and bi-polar disorder (for the past 4 years), and my wife gets migraines (from childhood). You can see why an insurance company would not want to touch us, but we still need insurance.

    As my COBRA ran out my agent tried to get us on a temporary plan. We know that if we claim the meds that my son and I require, $2,000 to $3000 a month, we will also not be allowed to re-up the temp plan. We decided that we would not claim any of the chronic things that we have to deal with so that we have the plan if we have a major issue, but once we do, we no for sure that we will not be allowed to re-up.

    For the temp plan we went with a carrier that haven't been covered by for over 12 years. But we were denied coverage by this carrier because they had on record that...

        1) My wife had been treated for headaches.
        2) One of my 2 sons had been treated for a sore throat.


    Those 2 reasons were all that it took to deny even temporary coverage.

    We had to find a carrier that had never insured me and my family before just to get temp insurance.

    We are still looking for a permanent option, but as we do our savings are being drained rapidly as we try and cover our ongoing issues. We need to minimize claims to preserve our temp insurance in case of a major issue. Because of that none of us are getting any ongoing treatment, so no one is getting any better. Were stuck with little chance at improving medically, and at this point we have not found an insurer who will offer us insurance at any price.

    If you have now, or have ever had anything more that a minor medical issue, your chance of getting coverage as an individual are effectively 0%

    I have been looking for work for 2 years, sending out, and following up on at least a dozen job openings ever month (12 is my self imposed min). While the economy is bad I have no idea if I will be able to get a job, and while I am in this catch 22 I am spending more and more of my time trying to find coverage.

    In the mean time, I have one of my cars for sale, family jewelry is listed, and while our house is not under water, real estate is not exactly booming either.

    I dunno. Does my government really want me to be broke, unemployed, and perhaps homeless, before I can get health care for my family?

    Or can they come up with some way for people to purchase coverage, to allow them to get healthy, before they loose everything?

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel