Senate Passes Health Care Reform Bill

In case you missed it, Senate Democrats managed to succeed at their goal of pushing through some sort of health care reform bill before Christmas Day–the chamber voted this morning 60-39 along party lines and passed the bill. Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version.

If you want to compare what’s in the House and Senate versions, the New York Times has put together an excellent side-by-side comparison tool.

“Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill “ [New York Times]

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  1. humphrmi says:

    Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version; if they do that, it will become law.

    I think you missed a step there. Just a minor point ;-).

  2. JoeDawson says:

    The penalty thing bothers me. I understand that hospitals have the requirement to treat emergency cases and this would help with that cost, but this doesnt sit well with me.

    • darklighter says:

      You mean the penalty for not having insurance? It actually has more to do with eliminating preexisting conditions. If you force insurance to cover preexisting conditions, then there has to be some mechanism to keep people from only getting insurance when they get sick. Otherwise you’d see premiums really skyrocket.

      • morlo says:

        Then penalize the insurance companies for raising premiums.

        • darklighter says:

          Did you even read what I wrote? The penalty is a deterrent to keep people from gaming the system.

          • pinkbunnyslippers says:

            Yeah, and I doubt that will work. Let’s say I’m an independent contractor or better yet, don’t have a job — not getting insurance from an employer. And let’s also say that I don’t want to buy health insurance, especially if I know I can still go to the hospital in an emergency and get treated for free. Then at tax time, I get a $750 bill for not having the insurance that year?

            $750 once a year

            Sure, bring it on. I’ll take the penalty, thanks.

      • morlo says:

        How is forcing people to pay insurance companies and hospitals lavish sums for non-existent conditions not “gaming the system”? I guess is depends on whether you define “system” as “country set up by its citizens” or “health-care profit-machine”.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        I believe Morlo’s point is that without cost controls and heavy regulation of for-profit middlemen latched onto the system like face-eating leeches (as every other country using private insurers with mandates has), Federal mandates to buy private companies’ products just *might* not result in fair, economical outcomes.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      Yeah, it’s completely unconstitutional, but there are about a million other unconstitutional things the Federal government does, so that doesn’t really bother people anymore.

  3. Esquire99 says:

    It’s a sad day for America. The Federal Government just took a step towards forcing people to buy insurance regardless of whether or not they want it (or can afford it, for that matter). This isn’t like car insurance, where having insurance is a condition of having your car licensed by the state. This is the Feds telling you that in order to live in the United States, you MUST buy health insurance.

    • wcnghj says:

      +1

    • johnbc5 says:

      Yes. It is another erosion on civil liberties that congress has passed on the American people in the past decade. If Obama was to veto the bill I would have so much respect for him but he wont due such a responsible thing to stop this Christmas present to the insurance companies. Without the public option the bill is useless.

      • darklighter says:

        What liberties, exactly?

      • Paladin_11 says:

        The “public option” is in the House version of the bill. It’s possible, although I admit it’s unlikely, that the final law will contain one. Reconciliation could really spice up this sausage of a bill…

    • MyTQuinn says:

      I’ve heard some representatives claiming that it’s just like being required to buy car insurance; and those interviewing them never call them on it. It’s not the same. I can avoid having car insurance by not having a car (not practical in my area, but possible). If this becomes law, the only way to avoid having health insurance would be to move (out of the country) or die.

      • morlo says:

        I think not filing a tax return will work too.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        …And they’re idiots to use this comparison. I live in a state with mandated auto insurance (sold by the rationalization that, once passed, rates will go dramatically down). Guess what? Premiums are up, and so are insurance companies’ profits.
        So, if anything, it proves what their opponents say.

        • psm321 says:

          Plus most states will let you self-insure with a bond. I haven’t heard of anything similar in this bill.

    • adamstew says:

      No different than most countries in Europe and Canada. They just don’t say “you have to buy insurance”. They just say “We’ve already bought you insurance, now you have to pay for it (via taxes).”

      Atleast in the USA’s case, you have a choice in how much insurance (to a degree) and from who. And they also cleaned up a lot of the Insurance industries most dubious practices (pre-existing conditions, must accept everyone who pays, etc.).

      For the people who can’t afford it, they are getting subsidies to pay for it…all the way up to families of four earning $88,200 a year. For an individual that would be someone earning up to $43,320 a year to receive subsidies.

      • Esquire99 says:

        Who cares if that’s basically what European countries and Canada do? If you like the way they do things, move there. That’s not a justification for forcing Americans to buy insurance regardless of whether or not they want it.

        The pre-existing condition rule is another thing that bothers me. The government shouldn’t be forcing companies to take on customers they don’t want and who they know will result in huge losses. I have fewer problems with the government ending the practice of denying coverage for X disease because the company found out that you forgot to disclose that you had Y disease when you took out the policy, yet X and Y are completely and totally unconnected. But to tell the insurance companies that they have to take ANY and ALL customers isn’t good for consumers. It’s going to drive up costs for everyone.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          To which one can reply, if you don’t like the way the majority voted, move somewhere else and stop bitching about it being “a sad day for America.”

          • kaceetheconsumer says:

            FTW +1

          • Esquire99 says:

            What about the argument that the majority of Congress passed is of questionable Constitutionality? Should one have to leave the country because Congress didn’t follow the Constitution?

          • _hi_ says:

            I really don’t like it when people say things like this. So going by your statement people shouldn’t have bitched for civil rights and womans right to vote they should have just moved somewhere else? Bitching is a good thing when you’re bitching to make things right.

        • Kamidari says:

          While I don’t agree with this legislation, I think that assuming you and I don’t pay for people who can’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions (or just choose not to) is a bit naive. I have to believe that the health care providers pass on those losses to everyone that does pay. This will just remove one step of the process, with the cost going from insurance co->consumer instead of provider->insurance co->consumer.

        • blogger X says:

          Can you name two diseases that “are completely and totally unconnected”?

          • Esquire99 says:

            I’m not a doctor, but how about something like Asthma and breast cancer?

            • adamstew says:

              http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2008-sct/5034.html

              From the article: “Beginning with research on mice, Mayo Clinic researchers have identified the localized tissue inflammation associated with asthma as a potentially significant contributor to lung metastasis of cancer. More importantly, this research led to a retrospective review of a breast cancer surgical patient database which appears to confirm that a similar relationship may exist in humans.”…”Approximately 7.4 percent of women in the U.S. have asthma. In contrast, the study found that the prevalence of asthma among breast cancer patients with recurrence of their disease as metastases in the lung is two-fold higher than among non-asthmatic women with breast cancer.”

              There you have it. If you’ve ever had asthma and forgot to disclose it to an insurance company, they would be able to not pay your breast cancer bills. Everything in the body is connected to everything else.

        • jamar0303 says:

          “If you like the way they do things, move there.”
          But even if you do they won’t give you their benefits without jumping through a lot of hoops (like getting permanent residence at the least). Apples and oranges until moving to another country is as easy as moving to another state.

        • adamstew says:

          You can’t have one without the other. If you’re trying to reduce the costs of getting health insurance, then you NEED healthy people in your insurance pool. That’s the whole idea of insurance. Everyone pools their money together so that if something catastrophic comes along to the small percentage that it happens to then you are covered, and if it doesn’t happen to then you bought yourself peace-of-mind.

          Problem is, people started saying “hey, i’m healthy so I don’t need to get health insurance.” So they cancelled their policies, or never bought any in the first place. Insurance companies now need to raise rates because they have less healthy people paying for the sick people. The rate increase drives more healthy people to say “Health insurance is too expensive, so i’m going to cancel” thereby driving up rates even higher and making the problem worse. So now all you have left is all the sick people and it’s not really insurance any more…it’s just prepaid health care with a large overhead cost.

          Now, hospitals are REQUIRED to provide care to someone who will die without it. So if someone without the means to pay comes in asking for care, they have to provide it. Then, in the unlikely event that a person who thought they were healthy does get unexpectedly sick (major accident, rare cancer, whatever). He cant pay his $100,000 hospital bill because he doesn’t have insurance. He declares bankruptcy, and now the hospitals are stuck with his costs. So they have to raise the prices on the people who can pay it… this gets passed on, through the insurance companies, to people who actually have insurance. This is similar to stores having to raise their prices because people are shoplifting and the people who are really paying for the shoplifters are the people who pay for their purchases. Now because insurance companies (and their customers) have to pay for the people who don’t have insurance (through higher health care costs), this raises the insurance rates and drives more people to cancel their policies thereby making the problem even worse.

          Now you have this situation: No one can afford to pay their bill because the cost of health care is so high. The cost of health care is so high because no one can afford to pay their bill. We’ve now just entered the vicious circle of spiraling health care costs. We are in the middle of this situation RIGHT NOW. The cost of health care is currently increasing a rate 10 times higher than inflation right now. This is an area where costs should be steady with inflation, and (until recently) have always been steady with inflation. The cost of wages and supplies hasn’t been increasing that fast. The only thing you can reasonably account for the higher cost of medical treatment IS the fact that they have to pay for people who can’t pay their bill.

          What happens after this is that the cost of health care, and indirectly, the cost of insurance will increase at the same rate…10 times higher than inflation. Eventually pushing health insurance beyond affordability for everyone. Now no one can afford health care. If no one can afford health care, then hospitals and doctors offices will no longer have any money to pay their bills and will be forced to close. The end result of all this would be the complete meltdown of the medical business. No one would be able to get any health care.

          The only way to fix this is to get EVERYONE to properly pay for their own health care. Since health care costs are so high, the only way to do this is to make sure everyone is insured. So you require everyone to buy health insurance and now everyone can properly pay for their medical care. Costs will slowly decrease because now hospitals and doctors don’t need to pay for the dead beats by charging the people who pay their bills, because everyone can pay their bills.

          For the people who elect not to get health insurance, they get charged a nominal penalty that will be used to pay for the costs of healthcare that they use but won’t be paying for directly. The providers will be able to submit to have their costs from these deadbeats paid for by the penalties they pay.

          Now to address your other concern about preexisting conditions:

          1) If you try and write language in the bill that says you can’t deny coverage for unrelated pre-existing conditions, well, that’s a GIANT loop hole. An example would be: Some study finds a link between a certain gene and a predisposition to cancer. That gene that causes cancer can also cause something completely unrelated, but more common, let’s say stomach ulcers. So if you’ve ever been treated for a stomach ulcer and haven’t disclosed it to the insurance company when you signed up, the insurance company could then use this study to deny your claim based on the fact that “stomach ulcers could be a precursor to cancer”. If you don’t like it, then you get to sue them for your $250,000 cancer treatment costs, assuming you can afford a lawyer. in 99% of cases, people will declare bankruptcy, and the bill will go back to the hospital which would be forced to raise prices for everyone else, which would raise insurance rates, and we’re stuck in the same situation I detailed for you earlier.

          If you think they wouldn’t do this, they are doing it now. Using any unrelated bit of knowledge to try and deny claims. They have entire departments devoted to doing exactly this.

          2) If people with pre-existing conditions can’t get affordable health insurance, then they will just opt not to get it, they will rack up large medical bills, not pay them, and then we end up in the situation I detailed for you earlier.

          A few more things:

          If you already pay for health insurance, then you are already paying for the people who don’t have it. This is because the people who don’t have it can’t afford to pay their medical bills, the hospitals are forced to increase their charges, which get passed on to you via the insurance companies through higher interest rates.

          Right now my choices on health insurance are $140/month from my employer (with them subsidizing the rest), or $600/mo for 1/2 the coverage on my own. Problem is there are only 2 major health insurance companies in my state to buy coverage from. I effectively have zero choice in my health insurance. zero choice isn’t very “american”.

          With this new bill, I can either take the discounts my employer provides and get the SAME coverage I have now, or I can take the money my employer would have subsidized and take that to shop around to the 2 providers in my state, plus the (at least) two new national health providers that would be created, one of them non-profit. This creates competition and CHOICE. Competition will lower prices and increase flexibility. This choice also gives me the option to unhook my health care from my employment so that if I ever lose my job, for whatever reason, then I don’t immediately and unexpectedly lose my health care too.

          • Chongo says:

            Adam, thank you for taking the time to write such a eloquent summary of the situation. I am checking it out for myself, but you at least put it into context for someone like me who is overwhelmed in medical debt and having a hard time finding things spelled out plainly. And while Esquire99 is obviously very smart and well versed in the law, I tend not to agree with someone who doesn’t think a woman whose house has been accidentally broken into by a bank because of foreclosure (when it was actually the neighbors house) and all of her stuff thrown away, shouldn’t get to take the bank to the cleaners in civil court. Sorry, just my little dig at you esquire! ;)

            cheers!

          • thisistobehelpful says:

            “If you already pay for health insurance, then you are already paying for the people who don’t have it. “

            Not exactly. I don’t have health insurance because I lost my job. I’m waiting to hear about the state program. I pay everything out of pocket. Until I FAIL to pay for my treatment I AM PAYING FOR YOU. For example I pay twice the negotiated amount people with insurance do at one doctor’s office. I pay I think for one prescription it became 10x the amount people with my former insurance company do, another “only” went up $80. I was still paying through the deductible so I was paying a negotiated rate but it wasn’t a copay. They aren’t necessarily making up the cost for care with insurance. For normal things (not cancer, AIDS, etc.) the uninsured are making up the cost of the insured.

            The uninsured, until they fail to pay, pay more than the insured. I spent $500 on tuesday just on medical bills and one prescription. Most people pay that in a premium for the month and then $10 per script or visit whatever. I’m going to pay $300 next week on another script fill and another appointment. So that took 80% of my unemployment for the month in just two days. Your doctor is making up for your negotiated rate by charging his uninsured patients more, not the other way around.

            As long as I am solvent, I’m paying your bills. And if I fail to pay they can put liens on anything I may own and garnish wages to still get that money back. I would only be able to get out of it through bankruptcy after a certain point.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        No, it’s unlike any other advanced economy.
        No one forces its citizens to buy insurance without stringent cost controls (that Conservatives would go crazy if implemented) if they have private providers. Or, they use a single-payor scheme that removes a wasteful, money-sucking maw from the system completely.
        This is the worst of both worlds: mandates without any sane cost controls.

        Both for prescription drugs (again, the only advanced economy that does this) and for basic care.

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      They already do that in Massachusetts. You must buy health insurance. If you do not, you forfeit any and all money that may be due back to you in the form of a state tax return.

      This is enforced by the insurance companies themselves. At the end of the year, they have to send out a 1099-hc listing all parties covered by the policy. You have to submit that with your return. If you don’t, you get no return due to you. If you owe money, than there is nothing the state can do to you.

      Buon Natale

      • Esquire99 says:

        While I think what Massachusetts is doing is wrong, I have less problems with it being done at the state level than at the federal level. If you don’t like the laws in MA, you can move to another state. The only option Congress has left here is to move out of the United States.

        • consumerd says:

          That’s something I am considering! moving out of the united states. It’s too expensive to be an american taxpayer anymore.

          • Paladin_11 says:

            I think you should find another reason for moving out of the US if you really want to go. If you think it’s expensive as a taxpayer in the US good luck finding another developed country that taxes you less.

          • jamar0303 says:

            Japan is quite lovely and it’s healthcare system is ranked far above America’s. Plus it’s got all sorts of cool ad bizarre stuff so you’ll never be bored (just gotta find a job or Japanese girlfriend first to get your foot in the door).

      • tape says:

        just because we have it here in Massachusetts doesn’t mean that it’s good.

        nor does it mean that the House and Senate have the Constitutional authority to enact such a bill.

        • zyodei says:

          No, you don’t understand. They have the full constitutional mandate. “Congress shall have the power to regulate interstate trade.” (as quote from Pelosi’s office). The intent of this, you see, was to force individuals to buy services they don’t want. They just used language funny back then.

      • tape says:

        just because we have it here in Massachusetts doesn’t mean that it’s good.

        nor does it mean that the House and Senate have the Constitutional authority to enact such a bill.

      • Wild Monkey says:

        If you don’t have insurance in Mass. you only pay a penalty, you do not forfeit any refund that might have come about from filing a tax return for the year. Yes, insurance companies have to issue you a 1099-HC, but a Schedule HC is filed with the state and not the 1099-HC. Should you end up owing money at the end of the year and refuse to pay it there are many ways the state can get it back from you. With interest and penalties.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      I agree.
      The original concept was, if everyone’s included in a low-cost, cheaply administered program, with multiple providers competing fairly (or a single-payor accountable via regulators appointed by elected representatives), then no free riders. Thus a large pool to spread risk.
      This is the worst of both worlds: mandates to buy products from private companies (protected from antitrust rules) with 10x the overhead and a legal mandate to maximize profit and siphon as much money to Wall Street as possible.
      It’s obscene and unworkable, since there are no mechanisms to control cost. It’s a HUGE windfall for the insurance companies.

      All of these elements that made sense economically were stripped away to chase phantom votes from Conservatives who were never going to vote for fixing things anyway. Then whatever good scraps remained were loped off by Droopy-Face Lieberman.

      Kill it. Start over again. I doubt Reconciliation can rescue this Lipsticked Pig.

      • Traveshamockery says:

        This bill is awful, and constituents loyal to both sides agree on that point. Now, my conservative beliefs lead me to object to the bill for reasons much different than those of my liberal friends, but we agree that the bill SUCKS. This bill, as written, will dramatically increase health care costs for everyone. Some people will get a subsidized free ride, but the net result is a bad one.

        Vote these fools out of office (from both parties) and get some people in there who will put REAL health care reform into action.

        * Remove limits on insurance companies selling their product across state lines (this will increase competition, lowering prices, and increases the size of the risk pool, resulting in lower average rates for many)
        * Remove restrictions on foreign import of prescription drugs (regulate quality, not the source – again, more competition equals lower prices)
        * Implement tort reform to keep doctors practicing (prevents supply problems, decreases the use of expensive “defensive medicine”, and encourages competition)

        • adamstew says:

          “* Remove limits on insurance companies selling their product across state lines (this will increase competition, lowering prices, and increases the size of the risk pool, resulting in lower average rates for many)”

          They’ve done this in one form or another: They will be creating at least two national insurance companies. One of them will be non-profit. They will be able to operate across state lines to do exactly as you describe.

    • henrygates3 says:

      But anyone without health insurance can be admitted to a hospital and be treated for free. How is that fair?

    • varro says:

      The Senate version would penalize my family if we made more than $9000 a month. (Our insurance is $750/month.)

      I *think* I can live with it.

  4. wcnghj says:

    Not trying to be racist, but why are American Indians exempt??

  5. subtlefrog says:

    Out of curiousity, does anyone know why “American Indians” are exempt in both bills?

    • johnbc5 says:

      American Indians are exempt because on reservations they are not under federal law or state laws. Reservations are considered semi-nation states in their own right and have different laws.

      • Esquire99 says:

        That’s somewhat misleading. Reservations are indeed subject to some Federal laws, though states have virtually no power over them.

        • johnbc5 says:

          It is important to remember that tribes pre-date the U.S. Constitution and, as such, tribes are not bound by its provisions. In 1968, however, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Civil Rights Act, which established most, but not all, of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights within Indian Country.

          I should have stated all most all federal laws. They do have to pay taxes and can vote.

          • Triterion says:

            If one lives and works in the reservation they dont have to pay taxes. They made that deal with the government when they kicked them off their land. PS Andrew Jackson was a dick.

        • Daemon Xar says:

          That’s also misleading. Thirteen (mostly western) states, including the one where I practice, have greater or lesser degrees of jurisdiction over a number of areas on reservations (including roads, some schooling, motor vehicles, crimes, etc.). It varies from state to state, as many were given the option to exercise some kinds of authorities, and required to exercise others.

          This is a very complicated area of law, and cannot be summed up simply.

  6. bgeek says:

    The gift that keeps on giving…just like herpes.

  7. Cameraman says:

    Hooray, we’ve bankrupted our children and our children’s children. Unless they happen to own stock in insurance companies, of course. Break out the freaking champagne.

    • adamstew says:

      What are you talking about? This is a bill that actually generates revenue, and REDUCES the federal deficit and debt level. Congress actually MORE than paid for the cost of this bill.

    • diasdiem says:

      Isn’t that what they’ve said about pretty much every progressive social program, like social security? And that was how many years ago?

    • Snarkysnake says:

      Got news for you ,dude. Our progeny are already bankrupt. As of today ,they owe 12 Trillion and counting and if anything,the debt train is picking up momentum. this is not a (D) or (R) problem,this is a spoiled country of voters ( I am the worst one among them ) that cannot be told no to their every desire. This is just one more desire that is (mostly) being indulged by the political class.

      This will end badly.

      • Esquire99 says:

        You’re exactly right. A good number of people of this country have come to expect that the government provide everything for everyone, and the politicians don’t have the backbone to say no.

        • sasakan says:

          But how is this providing anything? This bill is a complete joke meant only to screw over the common citizens of this country. Congress and other high up politicians make these bills and laws but don’t have to follow them- therefore, they couldn’t care less how it really affects people. It’s a ridiculous demand without providing the means to meet it. That’s a joke and people have a right to be angry about it.

          Just because you aren’t upset doesn’t mean no one else has the right to be upset. Your feelings and my feelings are not the same. You are indifferent, I’m worried. That’s fine but you don’t have the right to go around demeaning how someone feels about this either.

  8. AllanG54 says:

    It’s amazing how this nearly 2000 page bill was whittled down to just a few lines. I’m sure there’s more here than meets the eye.

    • diasdiem says:

      The whole 2000-page thing is misleading. It’s using that same magic you used in high school to pad the size of your term papers. Double spacing, wide margins, larger than standard font. I hear one of the people who wrote it tried to get away with calling himself “The Yellow Dart” in an early draft.

      • katstermonster says:

        OH MY GOD I haven’t seen a StrongBad reference in years. This totally made my night, thanks for the Christmas present! :)

        P.S. Englilish paper!

  9. DadCooks says:

    The Chicago Fix is in, this obamantion of a Health (not)Care Bill will pass. It is our Christmas gift from Congress and the President–a big stocking full of stinky reindeer dung.

    How’s that Hoax and Chains working out for you?

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      Instead of the well-worn Teabagger talking points, can you describe *exactly* what in the bill you don’t like?

    • ARP says:

      Wow, so much teabaggery in so little space. How about discussing your specific issues with either the House or Senate bill? Also, you’re aware that Obama has not signed a bill, correct? In fact (much to the dismay of progressives), he hasn’t been involved in the Health Care debate at all, except for a few speeches. So please described the specific fix and Obama provisions.

  10. Jesse says:

    It makes sense because health insurance companies will now have to cover you regardless of a pre-existing condition. It prevents someone from taking advantage of the system by not carrying insurance until they get sick then taking a policy out.

    • Esquire99 says:

      Yeah, because forcing the insurance companies to pay the bills of anyone and everyone who signs up won’t drive up costs (premiums) for the rest of us.

      • diasdiem says:

        Um… Insurance companies were already supposed to be paying the bills of anyone and everyone who signed up. That’s what insurance is. You pay money to the insurance company, and if you get sick while you’re paying them money, they’re supposed to pay your bills. They just haven’t been, every chance they get.

        • Esquire99 says:

          Insurance companies used to be able to reject customers they didn’t want. It’s my understanding that this bill prohibits them from doing so.

          • jamar0303 says:

            And when they do and those rejected customers head to the ER when things get bad, and quite a few drop the bill on the taxpayer anyway. Might as well do something about that.

        • Trick says:

          But the government will pay, right? Ever try to get your car fixed after hitting a pothole in the road?

  11. Mr. TheShack says:

    We try to reform private healthcare, and end up deeper in their pockets. Great. What good is this w/o a public option? Useless…

  12. Snarkysnake says:

    Could have been a lot worse.

    Liberal nutcases , you lost the following:

    No death panels. We avoid rationing that is decided by a government employee with nothing to gain or lose by telling you that you’re too old ,too rich ,too poor to receive some needed care. This alone makes it palatable.

    No public option. This really means a takeover of health services. Everyone that owns a set of scrubs would answer to Washington. I’m glad that there will be more competition to keep everybody on their toes.

    Conservative wing nuts lose the following:

    Buh Bye anti trust exemption for insurance companies. This means a new sheriff in town for the price fixing fat cats that run these companies.

    Pre existing conditions won’t be a death sentence to satisfy Wall Street going forward. This means that sick people can buy coverage and have some dignity when they need care.

    Like all compromises ,this one won’t satisfy both sides. On balance ,there are some needed reforms in here that correct abuses by the status quo and some laughable ,wildly optimistic assumptions that will likely never happen (like “cutting medicare” – believe that when you see it).

    But beware- if the money that is raised to fund this is not locked up tight , congress will spend it and squander it just like they have done with Social Security.

    • darklighter says:

      Really? “Death panels” and “takeovers”? Your talking points are old and worthless.

      • Snarkysnake says:

        No rationing. This is a victory.As Don Henly would warble “Get over it”

        • psm321 says:

          Yeah, because a private company executive working to maximize profit is sooo much more trustworthy than an honest government employee trying to help his fellow countrymen with no profit incentive

          • The Delanator says:

            “Honest government employee”

            Good one, sir.

            Yeah, because a government employee with no stake in the lives of their clientele is sooo much more trustworthy than someone with an objective eye at cost/benefit who needs the company painted in a positive light.

            See how easy this can be?

            • varro says:

              The bosses of the insurance company death panels don’t care about “good publicity”. They hope people give up on getting necessary coverage paid for and die quietly.

              It’s all about lowering the medical cost ratio so the executives can get bonuses and perks.

          • Snarkysnake says:

            Look , you didn’t get the keys to the treasury. You got enough of a puppy treat thrown your way to keep you voting for Hope & Change. That’s politics. That’s life. Move on.

      • Snarkysnake says:

        Then why the angst ? Now there REALLY won’t be any death panels. Suck it up and move on.

        The administration is going to paint this as a big victory (as well they must), but the reality is that these are reforms that are going to keep the government from rationing health care to favored voting blocs. As such ,its a HUGE win for people that think that the government is already too involved with our lives. Your response tells me that I can breathe easier (much easier) because you’re not happy that the bill doesn’t go farther.

        Yippee !

    • gqcarrick says:

      What do you mean if Congress spends it unwisely, thats bound to happen, Congress never does anything correctly.

    • CompyPaq says:

      If you actually ever read ANY version of the bill, there were NEVER any so called “death panels”. So stop with that already.

    • Daemon Xar says:

      You’re right. We’re removing the “death panels” that currently work for the private insurance industry, and choose to cut off coverage to anyone who is sick and actually needs care.

      Oops, that’s not what you meant by “death panel.”

  13. SugarMag says:

    I wonder if this means the health insurance companies’ CEOs will receive even more milliions each year as a bonus. Kinda like the AIG bonus mess.

    Carefirst (in MD/DC) paid a retiring CEO almost $18 million. This is a company that does not pay taxes, yo. I wonder if they still have their Camden Yards sky box ($350,000 price).

  14. blogger X says:
  15. ConsumerWolf says:

    This is the best news for consumers in a very, very long time. I’m surprised the Consumerist didn’t give it more coverage.

    Congrats Obama and the dems. We finally have a government looking out for us instead of exploiting us.

    • psm321 says:

      Seriously? Giving the insurance companies millions of new forced customers while having only minimal token regulation on them is looking out for us? This is a bailout for the insurance industry, plain and simple.

    • thetroubleis says:

      Actaully, I’m way further to the left than most Dems and I really don’t like this bill at all. We can’t do this without a public option.

  16. Traveshamockery says:

    Chris, thanks for keeping any personal political commentary out of the post. Consumerist has been less than neutral on this topic in the past, and I appreciate your approach on this post.

  17. pantheonoutcast says:

    Just read the side-by-side comparison. Fine. I have a religious objection. I follow this lesser-known religion called “common sense” which clearly states that mortgaging the country’s future for a handful of uninsured is a supremely stupid idea.

    • Esquire99 says:

      +1. Only 15% of the population is uninsured. This will ultimately cost the other 85% a fortune in order to ensure that those 15% get coverage.

      • varro says:

        Insurance for the self-employed and businesses already costs a fortune.

        Just because your insurance is paid for by your employer doesn’t mean it’s free – insurance companies rip off their customers to the n-th degree.

    • ConsumerWolf says:

      Please teabag somewhere else.

  18. t0ph says:

    Umm, I hope the insurance is like $150 or less a month, because as it stands, the cheapest insurance that I (just barely) qualifiy for in NYS is no less than $300 a month.

    This whole bill sounds awful, like it was designed to still give insurance companies a chance to screw us over.

  19. t0ph says:

    “36 million people would gain coverage, leaving 18 million uninsured.”

    Thats not even 10% of the US population.

  20. thisistobehelpful says:

    Yeah this is going to kill me somehow.

    I think my favorite argument for forcing people to carry insurance as opposed to taxing them and giving them healthcare is the idea that young, healthy people won’t buy insurance and that raises premiums for others. I don’t know a single person between my youngest relative’s age (19) and my oldest friend’s age (30) that doesn’t want health insurance but none of us can afford it on starter job wages or unemployment. It is now making more sense for me to try and get on welfare than try and find a job.

    Thanks for listening congress. You suck.

  21. consumerd says:

    man I keep hoping single-payer would come out on top. Sounds like the health insurance companies are getting what they want via lobbying.

    Epic fail for the American people once again!

  22. Flyers Fan says:

    Dear MoveOn member,

    In just over 48 hours, the Senate will vote on its health care bill, and then House and Senate leaders and the White House will meet to negotiate the final bill.

    While the House bill is quite strong, the Senate health care bill is seriously flawed. And with negotiations about to begin, we have one last chance to fight for key fixes in the final bill.

    Here are five key problems with the Senate bill that must be fixed. Please check this out, then pass it on! Click here to post on Facebook, or here to post on Twitter.
    Five Critical Flaws in the Senate Health Care Bill

    The Senate bill would:

    #1—Deny Americans the choice of a public option. In contrast, the House bill contains a national public option, the key to real competition, greater choice, and lower costs.1

    #2—Leave insurance unaffordable for some lower income and working people. Both bills require virtually all Americans to buy insurance. But even with the subsidies provided, some families could have to pay up to 20% of their income on health care expenses.2

    #3—Impose dangerous restrictions on women’s reproductive health care. Unfortunately, both bills do this and the House provision is worse. Both versions would be a dangerous step and neither should be in the final bill.3

    #4—Tax American workers’ health coverage to pay for reform. The Senate would pay for part of reform by taxing the hard-won benefits packages of some working Americans. The House, on the other hand, pays for reform with a small surcharge on only the wealthiest Americans—a far better approach.4

    #5—Allow insurance companies to remain exempt from anti-trust laws. Under current law, insurance companies are actually exempt from laws designed to prevent monopolies and price-gouging. The House bill would fix this, but the Senate bill leaves it in place.5

    Of course, these aren’t the only problems with the bill. Most glaringly, both the Senate and House bill would leave millions uninsured,6 a far cry from the vision of universal coverage so many of us have fought for. That remains a long-term goal.

    But these five things need to be fixed immediately—and we need to spread the word to make sure House and Senate leadership and the White House get the message we’re counting on them to craft a final bill with these key fixes.

    • Paladin_11 says:

      Is this an actual letter from MoveOn.org? My head is spinning from the contradictions in their points.

      I’m all for health reform and believe it’s a necessity going forward. But this “liberal” wish list they’re advocating can only have one result — bankruptcy. You do not get something for nothing, and taxing only the wealthiest Americans will not be able to pay for this. If it’s worth doing it’s worth having everyone pay for it — and that means sacrificing a few liberal sacred cows along the way. Along with the already gored conservative ox.

    • Snarkysnake says:

      You’re gonna lose. Any change to the Senate version means that Joseph Lieberman will bolt ( You may also lose Ben Nelson). If you can’t be happy with half a loaf here,you may end up with none.

      Game’s up. Better take what you can get.

      • thisistobehelpful says:

        A) Lieberman’s a dick. I don’t even need to support this with evidence because at this point it’s common knowledge.

        B) Good, because this bill is crap.

        • Snarkysnake says:

          Lieberman was duly elected by the voters of Connecticut. Just like Al Franken of Minnesota. Both men stand on deeply held principles that they never tried to hide from voters. I disagree with Franken but respect the fact that he is informed,forthright and can defend what he passionately cares about. Same for Lieberman. You are wrong. Neither of these men are “dicks”. One of them just won’t give you everything you demand from them.

  23. BillyDeeCT says:

    We need Americans to remember in 2010 who sold us a bill of good while getting their special deals. I’d like to scud them all and then maybe they’d realize that they are suppose to be FOR THE PEOPLE and NOT THEMSELVES!

    I never really thought about this until now but I am seriously thinking about moving to another country.

    • Snarkysnake says:

      There is a country nearby that has FREE medical care ,first rate gun control and guaranteed employment. And the best part ? This tropical paradise is only 90 MIES from Key West , Florida !

      Bon Voyage !

      • varro says:

        No thanks. I’ll take I-5 180 miles north and get the same, eh?

        I like poutine better than fried plaintains, anyway.

      • jamar0303 says:

        Or you can take a trip over the Pacific and find a country with all this plus cheaper everything in general. Not to mention that they already own epic amounts of US debt and currency. They’re set to become a superpower just like America.

        China welcomes you… More than America does, at this rate. The economy’s still growing here and jobs abound. Seriously, in my city the public option allows even foreign citizens to join it.

    • consumerd says:

      I feel you…. I am already training for a few jobs up north I could easily take and it won’t crimp my lifestyle at all.

  24. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    And just who is going to treat all these millions of people who will suddenly be “covered”? Did the bill also magically produce doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, and all sorts of other medical personnel and laboratory facilities?

    If you thought it was hard to get an appointment before, just wait.

    • ConsumerWolf says:

      You’re so right. Poor people deserve to get sick and die.

      You are an absolutely despicable human being.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Ouch, you missed my point! I never said that poor people deserve to get sick and die.

        My point is – it only stands to reason we will need more health care workers, in a hurry, if all of a sudden we dump 20 to 30 MILLION more people into the health care system.

  25. jayde_drag0n says:

    I hope someone will respond to me.. Am I to understand that this bill means A: I must purchase insurance.. B: except if I’m poor.. so if i’m poor i STILL don’t get any coverage?

    • morlo says:

      Depending on how poor you are, you will either have to pay for subsidized private insurance or sign up for Medicaid (for which the income limits will probably be raised). The poor will either end up paying for medical treatment they are already receiving for free, or filling out lots of forms to be diverted to clinics that will accept Medicaid for worse treatment

  26. henrygates3 says:

    What kind of health care are you required to purchase? When I lost my job, I had to get private healthcare at $50 a month (because I am too broke for anything else) that basically covers absolutely nothing. I think I can get an annual physical if I skip the extras. Though I have health insurance, I would be bankrupt if anything actually happened.

  27. H3ion says:

    At this point, I assume that the bills will be reconciled somehow. It would be enormously embarrassing if the two houses were unable to craft something, no matter how crappy it turned out to be compared to what was initially proposed.

    The saddest thing about this bill is the rancor and vitriol that accompanied the Senate passage. There was no pretense of compromise, no willingness to even consider different points of view and the result was passage along straight party lines. It’s pretty clear that there are no statesmen in the Senate anymore, but it would be nice to see some civility. What goes around tends to come around, sometime sooner than you might think.

  28. ZukeZuke says:

    Those Democrats are unscrupulously corrupt. Yesterday, I read about them giving away free Medicare deal for Nebraska to get that senators vote! OUTRAGEOUS!

  29. widestance says:

    gee an awful plan which forces you to patronize murderous insurance companies with the IRS as their collection agency? you shouldnt have. no seriously you really shouldnt have.

  30. hankrearden says:

    Huh. Well at least they didn’t just de-value the 14 years of training I invested in my career. Guess I’ll just have to pay off my $251,000.00 med school loan with food stamps.

    F%&king socialists.