The Health Care Plan May Create Huge Deficits

It’s no secret that the U.S. is closely watching the health care reform bill and how soon it is approved. Recently, the president got the votes he needed for the plan to move forward. There is a second vote set for this next week and Democratic leaders are happy it is coming closer to approval.

The Senates’ number one priority

Majority Leader Harry Reid (see http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/12/health_care_overhaul_set_for_p.html) said, “I don’t know if there is a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that was important to them, and if they don’t have something in it important to them, then it doesn’t speak well of them.” Reid is making reference to the massive legislation that makes up the health care plan. It includes a $100 million fund to pay the cost of Medicaid expansion. The plan’s main feature is that it would extend health care coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans. The cost is projected to be $1 trillion over a 10-year period.

How the health care plan works

In the new health care plan, everyone would be required to purchase insurance. There would be subsidies available to help lower-income people, ones that must make ends meet on a smaller pay day, and businesses would have various tax breaks and penalties for coverage to employees. The most-talked-about aspect of the bill is the change when it comes to “pre-existing conditions.” For years, Americans have been turned away for health care coverage on pre-existing conditions, and it’s been a difficult situation for those who need assistance but don’t qualify. This new bill makes the ineligibility for applicants with pre-existing conditions obsolete.

Also, the uninsured or self-employed would have new ways of finding coverage at storefronts referred to as “exchanges.” These exchanges would be the stage where private insurers would sell their health plans. Much like shopping for car insurance through a broker, health care would be available to consumers. A battery of questions would lead to a customized health care solution.

The American Medical Association weighs in

The AMA is endorsing the health care plan. Reid (see http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/12/health_care_overhaul_set_for_p.html) said, “America has the best health care in the world — if you can get it. For far too many people, access to care is out of reach because they lack insurance. This is not acceptable to physicians.” The AMA is in support of the latest revision of the bill after some key changes were implemented into the law. Namely the changes included:

  • A proposed fee on physicians to enroll in Medicare was eliminated
  • A 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery was eliminated
  • A 10 percent percent tax on indoor tanning services was created
  • Payments were cut regarding physicians paying for bonuses to primary care doctors in economically depressed areas

These changes were instrumental in the AMA supporting the new health care plan. AMA President Dr. Cecil B. Wilson said, “The health industry needs to extend health care to the vast public and a sweeping legislation is the only way to do it… we want to build a case where everyone in the health industry benefits from the bill.”

The final days for a decision

The final days to make changes and approve the bill are quickly drawing near. Republicans can still take time to review the bill and they are most likely going to use all their allotted time. Senator Bob Corker said, “We potentially are getting ready to pass a bill that there’s no question in my mind is going to lead to huge deficits down the road.” Despite challenges, something has to be done to help uninsured Americans and this sweeping legislation is the best plan available.

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