Op-Ed: Health care bill passes, now the real battle

Posted Nov 8, 2009 by Paul Wallis
The wait is over. The House of Representatives passed the Obama administration health bill in a close vote. Concessions about insurance for abortions and all, the bill is now headed for the Senate.
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The debate has been long, furious, and bizarre, but Affordable Health Care is now a working proposition with credible chances of getting passed into law. Only one Republican supported the bill. 39 Democrats opposed it.
The New York Times reports that the issues of cost remain the Republican primary objection, with the inference of additional taxes a particularly sore point with some. (The House proposal imposes a surtax on couples making over $1 million a year. The idea of millionaires paying tax for something as mundane as health care seems to be generating a lot of sympathy, too.)
Insurance cover for abortions was a significant issue in passing the bill. A proviso excepting victims of rape, incest and cases of danger to mothers was also attached to the abortion measures.
Bloomberg reports that House Democrat leader Pelosi had to settle for a scaled-down version for reimbursements relative to Medicare rates.
The bill is expected to come into effect in 2010 if passed.
Passing the bill through the Senate, which has had several battles over its own proposals is likely to be a mixed bag. Some House Democrats said they expected the bill to be further amended in the Senate.
The total cost of the measures contained in the existing bill is about $1.1 trillion. While that might seem an almost trivial amount compared to the costs of the crash, it does represent an interesting-sized figure for America’s ailing revenue system.
The revenue system isn’t the only thing that’s ailing, and that’s added a lot of heat to the movements of this bill. It’s debatable if there’s a person in the country who hasn’t had some experience of the true condition of the health care system. The United States has seen in recent times actual “traveling clinics” in some states, providing free care, getting swamped with patients.
It was stated by economists some years ago that there was a trillion dollar un-funded hole in the health care system projected for the next decade.
The critical mass of real costs was the main factor in crashing the US health system. The capital injection approach is at least theoretically sound on that basis. Whether this bill fills the order for capital will define the status of the health care system’s future.
Wait for the circus in the Senate. There was a time when "rational debate" was expected, but it seems to be out of fashion. The idea that people pay for health care and share the load has evidently been replaced by a belief that other people deserve to be sick if they can't pay for treatment.
Nice to know someone cares.