WTHX: What the Hell’s Actually On That Congressional Health Care Bill? (6/30)

On Nov. 7, 2009, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed a bill calling for a massive overhaul of the health care industry, including plans for a government-run “public option.” Many controversies surrounded the bill, which passed with a five-vote margin that saw many Democrats capitulate and a sole Republican vote in favor, including the addition of a clause that prohibited government-run insurance from covering the cost of an abortion except in the case of rape or health-related conditions.

What is actually in the bill?

Covering every point of the 1.5k+ pages of the health care bill’s text is infeasible with the WTHX format, but here are a few key points:

  • Opening Medicaid access to all individuals and family making under 150% of the federal poverty rate, along with $600 billion in subsidies.
  • $25 billion in company-level subsidies for small business insurances.
  • Federally enforced law prohibiting insurers from rescinding coverage on the sick.
  • Closes a gap in Medicare’s drug coverage provisions, making cost of prescriptions cheaper for Medicare recipients.

What are the drawbacks of the bill?

The funding mechanisms of the bill is, of course, its most hotly disputed aspects, given the trillion-dollar size of the Congressional version (the Senate bill, which will be merged with the Congressional program, has yet to have been voted on).

Like with automobile insurance, the Congressional health care bill mandates universal applicability – everybody must have health insurance, or be fined for it. However, as stressed by President Obama and Democratic leaders, there is a “hardship exemption” from the bill – the fines are not enforced with threats of incarceration.

Some of the 39 Democrat votes against the bill have noted unfavorably on the 2.5% taxing of  medical device manufacturers, as well as a stipulation that prohibited paper mills from taking a $1.01/gallon bio-fuel tax credit. The bill also adds a 5.4% surtax upon individuals and couples making $500,000 and $1 million per year respectively, along with a $400 billion cut on Medicare payments to hospitals, nursing homes and insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage plans.


~ by Gonzo Mehum on November 9, 2009.

5 Responses to “WTHX: What the Hell’s Actually On That Congressional Health Care Bill? (6/30)”

  1. Despite knowing that Democrats are a center-right party, I was hoping they would at least start with something properly liberal and then have to be talked down into something like this.

    I wonder why the anti-abortion provision, which, if I recall correctly, only reinforces existing prohibitions on federal dollars being used to provide abortion services, was enough to get the votes over the top. What is it about punishing women that makes lawmakers happy and more willing to vote for a bill?

  2. I would say it’s less about punishing women (though I won’t deny that subtext in the least) and more about being able to say “I voted against abortion, right-leaning constituents!”

  3. Right. And I marvel at the cognitive flips everyone can do to divorce “abortion” from “women” so much so that Congresscritters can say, “I voted against abortion” and not get hammered with the obvious rejoinder, “Why do you hate women so much?” We’re on parallel tracks here, I think.

  4. They allowed coverage of abortion for rape and health circumstances – in other words, cases where a woman may need an abortion, as opposed to “wanting” one. I don’t see how that’s actually voting against abortion at all.

    It’s similar to having coverage for the plastic surgery of burn victims and breast cancer survivors, as opposed to coverage for someone wanting to get liposuction, breast implants or a face lift.

    I can see what you mean though, it’s sad that they needed to be able to say “We voted against abortion!” to get those last few votes to push the bill through…

  5. Fair enough. It’s not actually voting against abortion where it counts, but it does look good. Although, from the comment squad I usually listen to on the podcast, they suggested that the language was writ in such a way that no person who received insurance exchange subsidies would be able to purchase a plan that did have some sort of abortion coverage. If that’s true, then the law might prevent those poor enough to receive subsidies from being able to abort if they feel they can’t raise the child properly.

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