Understand What U.S. Congress Is Doing In Health Care

Wednesday, January 14, 2009, PM | Leave Comment

Even before President-Elect Barak Obama takes office next week on Jan. 20,2009, key legislators, health care activists and advocates have held hearings and have started to develop policy positions. The story of America has been a journey toward being a fairer and more just nation. We have encountered many barriers along the way, and at times we have stumbled upon a few of them.

Health care is one such barrier that we have yet to conquer. But again and again, we have come together to surmount the obstacles in our path and realize more fully the promise of America.

Companies in the United States are currently facing a health care dilemma that borders on a national catastrophe. With double-digit health care increases battering companies in recent years, most employers have absorbed significant cost hikes and consequently eventual losses.

The key people, elected and non-elected, have begun seeking a consensus on how best to reform the nation’s broken health care system.

  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Beucus, D-Mont., presented a white paper named Call to Action – Health Reform 2009 that focused on access and affordability, especially for those 50 to 64 – this age group is becoming the largest of all age groups, if not already, in a few years.

    The paper also focused on long-term care and chronic disease. Keep in mind, that as of now, it’s a policy paper, not a piece of legislation. It is the beginning of Max Baucus’s attempt to create a health care reform process.

    The principles are simple. This is a plan that builds on the current system. If you like what you have, nothing changes for you. The employer based system is not merely preserved, it’s actually strengthened.

    • Small employers are subsidized to offer health insurance.
    • Large and midsize employers have to offer health insurance or pay a percentage of payroll (undefined as of yet) into a public pool that subsidizes coverage for the uninsured.

    There is plenty yet to be defined, traded, added, and decided. That is, there is plenty of reason for other senators to take a role in the process.

  • Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and his staff have met with key players in the health care industry.
  • Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senator Robert Bennet, R-Utah, have a bipartisan proposal for universal health care and has the support of about 15 Senate cosponsors.
  • Other members of Congress have introduced health care reform bills that include such measures as improving health information technology.

Moral of the story

  • Humongous medical bills
    We cannot fix the economy without an overhaul of our broken health care system. As health costs soar, many folks are missing out on care or are left with humongous medical bills they cannot afford.
  • Wellness programs
    With health care costs spiraling out of control across the nation, employers are desperately seeking viable solutions to stop the tailspin. Bolstered by a growing body of convincing empirical data, wellness programs are now raising eyebrows as a valuable cost containment strategy.
  • Bipartisan consensus
    I hope there is a bipartisan consensus on health care reform. But more than that, I hope everyone has access to this system, access to hospitals and doctors and that people can afford it.

What do you think?

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