OKAY, SO HEALTHCARE REFORM
Since it was difficult to tear our eyes away Sunday night, may as well continue the trend. Here is a roundup of a few of Monday’s day-after-the-vote op eds and articles.
1. The LA TIMES:
The House vote Sunday to send a comprehensive healthcare reform bill to President Obama’s desk put the United States on a path toward universal health insurance, a goal that had eluded reformers since then-presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt called for all workers to have coverage in 1912. It may prove to be the signal accomplishment of Obama’s administration, even though the controversy surrounding it threatens to end his party’s majority in Congress. Rarely has such a good thing for Americans been perceived by so many as a threat to their livelihood and liberty.
There’s wide agreement in the healthcare industry and across the political spectrum that the system is in dire need of repair. But while liberals called for government to eliminate the insurance middleman and act as the single source of coverage, conservatives sought to reduce the government’s presence in the market and give consumers more responsibility.
The measure that emerged from the Senate, HR 3590, pursues a course between those two extremes….
2. THE NEW YORK TIMES
The process was wrenching, and tainted to the 11th hour by narrow political obstructionism, but the year-long struggle over health care reform came to an end on Sunday night with a triumph for countless Americans who have been victimized or neglected by their dysfunctional health care system. Barack Obama put his presidency on the line for an accomplishment of historic proportions.
The bill, which was approved by the Senate in December and by the House on Sunday, represents a national commitment to reform the worst elements of the current system. It will provide coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, prevent the worst insurance company abuses, and begin to wrestle with relentlessly rising costs â€” while slightly reducing future deficits.
Amendments approved by the House and awaiting approval in the Senate would provide additional coverage and make somewhat deeper reductions in the deficit.
All of this was managed despite the fact that not a single Republican in the House or Senate was willing to vote for the bill. Efforts by the White House and Congressional Democrats to draft bipartisan legislation were met by demagoguery. That is not likely to end now…..
3. NPR - WHAT ARE WE GOING TO GET OUT OF THE THING?
Obama administration officials and wonks call them “early deliverables.” They’re the benefits of the health legislation that would kick in this election year.
The provisions, which could just as easily be called the Democrats’ “Incumbents’ Protection Plan,” suddenly are everywhereâ€”touted on liberal blogs, on the Rachel Maddow Show, in talking points by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
They’re designed to counter Republican denunciations that the legislation is a government takeover of the health care system that will drain the federal treasury.
But the question for Democrats is whether promoting the early changes will be more persuasive with voters than the Republican arguments. The answer may determine whether the Democrats retain their congressional majority.
James Capretta, a top budget official in the George W. Bush administration, is skeptical. He says he assumes the people who would benefit by the changes before November are in the “single-digit millions,” not enough to have a big impact. “There aren’t enough people in those categories to say, ‘Yes, the increased taxes are worth it.’”
But Chris Jennings, a consultant who was the Clinton administration’s senior health policy advisor, says the legislation includes “many important, immediately available policies that people will care about.” He adds: “If we can’t market them well, then we will have deserved to fail.”
Changes that would occur this year include:
- Dependent children could remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.
- Senior citizens would get more help paying for drugs in Medicare.
- People with health problems that left them uninsurable could qualify for coverage through a federal program.
These are among the more than a dozen features of the new health care overhaul law that would take effect in 2010 under the measure passed Sunday. (Although the Senate bill approved Sunday by the House would become law with President Barack Obama’s signature, Senate action is needed on the separately-passed House measure that would amend that law.) Other first-year items include a ban on lifetime limits on medical coverage, more oversight of premium increases and tax credits for some small businesses.
The big changes in the law – the ones that could affect tens of millions of people — don’t kick in until at least 2014. Those include insurance marketplaces called “exchanges”; rules requiring insurers to accept all applicants, even those with health problems, and an expansion of state Medicaid programs.
Read more here.
CALIFORNIA WILL BENEFIT THE MOST: SF CHRONICLE
The stakes are high for Californians when it comes to the health care overhaul, mainly because the coverage problems in this vast state are so large.
With a new UCLA study estimating that more than 8 million Californians, or nearly 25 percent of the population, lack health coverage, many health experts say California will be impacted more than other states by the reform legislation.
“When this is fully implemented in 2014 or beyond, we will see some two-thirds or more (of the uninsured) getting coverage and, with that, better access to care and more affordable coverage,” said Marian Mulkey, senior program officer for the California HealthCare Foundation, an independent philanthropy group based in Oakland.
But not everyone will benefit. Medicare beneficiaries who have certain types of policies may experience disruptions and high-income earners will pay more in taxes. And California will still be left with a large number of uninsured, including illegal immigrants, who either don’t qualify for the reforms or are exempted from them.
Photo: Charles Dharapak / AP