House Deal Lowers Health Insurance Cost
The House Energy and Commerce Committee were finally able to reach a deal on the controversial Health Reform Bill. Part of what was agreed was that health insurance companies could not raise their premiums more than 4% a year unless the government approved it. But in dealing with the special interests groups on both sides, compromises had to be made. For example, more businesses than originally thought were excluded from the requirement that they would have to offer their employees health insurance as well as reduced subsidies for those lower-income uninsured people.
The American Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 is moving along, although slow. In the deal to lower insurance premiums, subsidies were cut to low- and middle-class families. Along with the lower insurance premiums, part of the cost of the legislation is covered through these cuts. However, this causes a significant problem. The working class is then unable to afford health insurance. Again, health care is then out of reach of those who the bill was intended to help.
According to those opposed to the deal, they say that this was not part of the purpose of the Health Reform Bill. The purpose was to bring affordable health care to all Americans. In response to this, it was hoped that these subsidies would be repaid in full by forcing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to pay claims electronically and by allowing the federal government to be able to negotiate prescription plans for Medicare for seniors. The money saved from this requirement to CMS would replace the lost subsidies.
Has this part of the legislation cut even deeper into the problem? Will health care become even more out of reach for those the Health Bill was really intended to reach? Will the demands on CMS to pay claims electronically save enough money to pay back the subsidies? What about the seniors this affects? Will the prescription plan the government has proposed work? Or will it make even more needed medication farther to reach? Is health insurance still elusive to many?
Passage of the bill outside of the Committee is expected to take be the House’s final legislation to vote on before leaving for the Labor Day holiday. If this part does indeed pass, the main expansion of health care will not occur until the next presidential election is past.