Yesterday evening President Obama addressed Congress and the Nation with the hopes that he could convince the American people on his plan for health care reform. The President spoke very plainly and to the point and even seemed quite emotional during points in his speech. The health care topic is very personal for some Americans so I am not surprised at the level of emotion and passion that it invokes in some people. It is no secret that our health care system is flawed and while both Republicans and Democrats agree that reform is necessary the question still remains what type of reform will be best for every American?
President Obama has not wavered from his commitment to health care reform. One of the main debate points of his plan, H.R. 3200, is his desire to establish a government insurance plan. He argues that creating a national insurance plan will give Americans more choices when it comes to their health care needs. Obama emphatically stated “Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition”. While there has been plenty of debate on why this resolution is or isn’t a good idea many believe that establishing a national plan will do nothing to help the health care issues facing the nation or help reduce costs. In fact, many believe that such a plan will add more debt to the national deficit. Furthermore, the President insists that his plan will “not add one additional dollar” to the current national debt but I’m not sure if I agree with him. In July of this year the Congressional Budget Office, estimated that enacting legislation outlined in the President’s health care plan “would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of $1,042 billion over the 2010-2019 period”, (Elmendorf, 2009).
The changes that he is proposing are costly and I believe that President Obama is disillusioned by believing that his plan can really be funded by finding health care savings within the current system. While I agree that the current system is teeming with waste and abuse I am not convinced that his plan will reduce this waste and abuse so significantly that it will pay for the plan without adding additional costs to our deficit. In fact, there are administrative costs that the government would incur to administer the proposed changes of the current system as well as the impact of the bill’s provisions on other federal programs. For the most part I think that the general idea behind his plan is good but how are we going to insure every American without adding more debt??? I’m just not convinced yet by the President’s proposal.
Below are the basic principles of President Obama’s Plan:
For the Insured:
- If you already have health care coverage you can keep the coverage you currently have.
- Insurance companies will not be allowed to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
- Insurance companies will not be allowed to drop your coverage.
- There will be a limit on out-of-pocket expenses.
- Insurance companies will be required to pay for preventive care services (i.e. general check-ups, mammograms, etc.)
For the Uninsured:
- Creation of new insurance “exchange” that will provide a new mechanism through which Americans could obtain coverage.
- Individuals would be able to cross state lines to shop for coverage based on price.
- The plan will provide tax credits for small business owners who can’t afford insurance within the insurance exchange.
- All legal citizens will be required to have basic health coverage and those who do not will be charged a penalty, “In general, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would charge a penalty to uninsured people, but all individuals with income below 150 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) would be exempt from the penalty. For others, the penalty would be set at 50 percent of the unsubsidized premium of a qualifying health plan that provided the lowest level of coverage in the insurance exchange”, (CBO, 2009).
- Establish a not for profit government sponsored program that will be subsidized by collecting premiums.
During the speech, the President made it a point to state that his plan will not insure illegal immigrants but what he failed to mention is who will foot the bill for all illegal immigrants that will still seek health care services from our emergency rooms? How does Obama plan to deal with the issue of illegal immigrants and the additional costs that they add to our government? Moreover, after reviewing the basic principles of his plan what are your thoughts on his proposal? Should healthy people that choose not to purchase health care coverage really be penalized?
To read the entire bill just click on the link H.R. 3200
Elmendorf, D.W., Director, Congressional Budget Office, 2009. Health Reform Proposal: Preliminary Analysis of Major Provisions Related to Insurance Coverage, Retrieved from http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10430/House_Tri-Committee-Rangel.pdf