Sunday, November 08, 2009

House Rules (well, not quite)

It appears the House has passed its version of the health care bill in a close 220-215 vote.
The legislation would require most Americans to carry insurance and provide federal subsidies to those who otherwise could not afford it. Large companies would have to offer coverage to their employees. Both consumers and companies would be slapped with penalties if they defied the government's mandates.

Insurance industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions would be banned, and insurers would no longer be able to charge higher premiums on the basis of gender or medical history. In a further slap, the industry would lose its exemption from federal antitrust restrictions on price fixing and market allocation.

At its core, the measure would create a federally regulated marketplace where consumers could shop for coverage. In the bill's most controversial provision, the government would sell insurance, although the Congressional Budget Office forecasts that premiums for it would be more expensive than for policies sold by private firms.
There are no details in this early article about specifics, such as the subsidies, and while it appears to include a public option, it also looks like it will not have any cost-controls so it's not really good for much except as a backstop to serve as an insurer of last resort rather than a robust insurer of first choice. Also, there is no mention of stopping of recision.

Unfortunately, to give cover to a contingent of asshole Reps, there was an amendment included regarding abortion.
As drafted, the measure denied the use of federal subsidies to purchase abortion coverage in policies sold by private insurers in the new insurance exchange, except in cases of incest, rape or when the life of the mother was in danger.

But abortion foes won far stronger restrictions that would rule out abortion coverage except in those three categories in any government-sold plan. It would also ban abortion coverage in any private plan purchased by consumers receiving federal subsidies.

Of course, this was necessary because preventing the rampant abuse of abortion as a recreational activity by the newly insured is something the government SHOULD be used for rather than simply interfering in people's lives by allowing to have medical care without bankruptcy, thus forcing them to become socialists.

Nevertheless, there are good things in there: the ban on denying coverage or pricing based on pre-existing conditions, and the removal of anti-trust exemptions.

It'll now be up to the Senate to pass their bill, and hopefully when merging the two bills in conference, they'll actually address some of the major flaws.

UPDATE: Here's a bitter taste along with this medicine: More members of Congress want to restrict a woman's rights (240) than grant her medical coverage (220). My Congressman, Rep. Heath Shuler (D) was one of them.

Hey, Heath. If you have no intention of supporting the bill in the end, you can kindly shut the fuck up about exactly what's in it.

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