Sunday, March 21, 2010

National Health Care's Moment of Truth!

Today is the day that H.R. 3200 will be voted on and decided. It's been awhile since I've reported on the progress of this bill because there has been so much back and forth as to what it will contain, when it will be decided, and even if it would be passed at all.

Partisan maneuverings have dominated over the past few months, resulting in what looked like a deadlock and a collossal power-struggle between Democrats and Republicans.

Then once the bill was revised some Democratic members of Congress did not want to vote in favor of it because too many concessions were made in the interest of bipartisanship.

The website tracks changes in the bill. The original word count was 176,276 and after changes it is now about 3 times longer; 395,096 which represents a total of 1,002 changes in all; meaning the document has changed statistically 76% !

That is quite a big shift from what the original text contained!

The Republicans keep complaining that if the bill is passed it will contain Medicare cuts, but as I read through the bill I could not find anything significant in the way of Medicare cuts, and in fact there were lots of areas in which it would be increased including the eradication of cost sharing for medications for dual eligibles (those who are so low income they are on both Medicare and Medicaid), doing away with the "donut hole", and providing such servives as marriage counseling, mental health counseling, and better coverage for dialysis, to name a few.

The downside of the bill from what I can deduce is that there are alot of budget items for Medicare and Medicaid as well as other forms of coverage that amount to increased paperwork, evaluation of various programs, and various forms of health education of staff and in some instances, patients. It doesn't seem that education has done much to change the mind-set of either consumers or healthcare providers; many nurses are still overweight for instance, people still smoke despite all the education currently out there about the dangers of such things, and creating more beaurocracy around such new initiatives probably won't help either, and it is money better spent on assuring that people get the direct patient care that they require.

On the positive side are incentives to small businesses that currently can get away with not covering their workers so that now it will be viable, even advantageous for them to do so, and the choice to "opt in" to a public healthcare option! I had thought all mention of the public option had been wiped from the bill, but luckily not!

The Sunday political commentary shows on TV this morning showed staunch conservatives like Karl Rove loudly protesting the fact that the President had some executive priviledge that he could make use of to get this bill passed, and they referred to the wording of the bill as "Bernie Madoff" politics. They seemed to be grasping at the last straws they could before it became a done deal. Statements like "There will be blood on the Congressional floor and it will be Democrats' blood" seemed the order of the day, and these representatives of the Replublican Party lauched dire predictions if the bill passed, one in particular being that there would be a "Republican take-over" if the bill went through. I seriously doubt that will happen especially if it ends up helping them and their families and friends in addition to Democrats. While the bill could have had more supports in it for individual citizens I think overall it will be an improvement.

It is 10:29 EST here and I just heard the news say that the results of the vote are due any minute now! Last I heard this afternoon the Democrats have the number of votes they need! Now it's all over but the waiting.

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