Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Health Care Reform HR 4872

The views expressed in this blog represent my personal opinions only and do not represent the views of Cottonwood nor it's administration.

I want to talk a little bit about health care reform and the two bills that were recently signed into law. I had previously said I would make no comments until the final bills were signed and I could read the texts. I was planning initially to discuss HR 3590 (the Senate version of the health care reform bill that President Obama signed into law March 23rd. This bill was passed as expected with tremendous media interest and there have been many com mentors on what this bill actually means for us. However HR 4872 was signed into law yesterday. It is the bill that has far more reaching consequences for our health care system but was not reported as anything more that a "fix it bill" amending the original health care bill. It was signed with little fanfare and the focus the Obama administration highlighted was the education component of the bill which alters the way college education is payed for in regard to student loans and federal grants.

Hr 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, is not a government takeover of the health care system. It basically amounts to a government takeover of the health insurance industry but has many features that most of us can probably agree with in the type of reforms outlined. It does have some problems which I will talk about later but it is not government run health care. HR 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which is the amended bill is quite different though. HR 4872 runs to 2309 pages which is longer than the first bill passed. I have not read all 2309 pages yet but I have read the first 200 and can say that this bill is essentially a government takeover of the health care system. What I read surprised me. The first part of the bill reads word for word the previously proposed House bill which included a public run insurance plan as well as a new federal agency. For those of you who don't agree with me I welcome anyone to read the text of the bill itself and will be glad to discuss any aspect of what I am going to say here.

HR 4872 includes a government run public health care insurance option (page 12), (page 72), (pages 116- 125 Subtitle B -Public Health Insurance Option).

HR 4872 involves the creation of a brand new federal agency, the Health Choices Administration (page 41).

The Health Choices Administration will be headed by a Commissioner appointed by the president who has broad powers which include defining the terns used in health insurance coverage, determination what is accepted as a qualified health benefit plan and to, and determining to set the actual benefits that will be provided by a qualified health plan. In other words the Commissioner can determine what will and will not be covered. (pages 41-45)( page 84).

HR 4872 overrides any state required insurance mandates unless the state reimburses the federal government for the cost of the benefits mandated(page 87).

HR 4872 establishes a national health card which must be used prior to medical services to determine if one is eligible for those services (page 58-60). If the government does not want you to have certain medical services you cannot get them.

HR 4872 enables the federal government to debit your bank account for the cost of medical services 9page 58).

HR 4872 taxes individuals who do not obtain the type of health insurance that is qualified by the Commissioner and compliance must be reported to the IRS (pages 110, 167-168).

HR 4872 taxes small employers (businesses less $400,000 per year) who are not able to provide health care coverage a tax of 8% of the employer's payroll (page 184).

I have not seen much media coverage and have wondered, am I making a mistake? Was HR 4872 signed into law? An I reading the correct bill? Apparently. I hope that I am wrong.

These are some of the things that are in the first 200 pages of the bill. Again, we all are interested in this topic and I welcome any questions or discussions (write me!) :)

Thought for the day

May God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

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