Do I like the Senate Bill? You know what, I do and let me tell you why. The current healthcare expenditures in this country represent 16% of the total economy. And while we have the best doctors, hospitals, equipment, and drugs in the world available to us, we still have a tremendous number of people who do not have any access to the healthcare system. Further, we have many more who believe they are protected but find out how vulnerable they are once they get sick and realize that their insurance has limited or partial coverage, leaving many in terrible debt. We can do much better as a nation. The Senate bill puts us one step closer. As you know, I have said all along this is not a perfect bill. There is no such thing as a perfect bill, particularly when we are talking about something as complex as healthcare.
This bill will provide more Americans with access to affordable and stable healthcare – insurance plans that will not drop you when you get sick, will provide a minimum level of protection that we all understand, and will not deny you coverage merely because you have a pre existing condition. Will everyone have coverage? No. There is still work to do, but this gets us moving in the right direction. While there are many that object to the provision requiring mandatory coverage, I simply say tough. It is without question the only way to make the insurance markets work. Without the mandate (whatever version ultimately gets passed in the reconciled bill), the insurance markets will not work. We want to maintain some sense of private insurance which is why the government plan was dropped. The only way to do this is to make sure every American pays into the pool.
The healthcare reform is funded two ways. New taxes and cost controls. First, on new taxes. No one likes them, I particularly don’t. They are going to be put on families making over a certain amount of money (500k/1M in the house and 200K/250K in the senate) using different methodologies depending on how the bills get reconciled. You know what? We must do this for our country. Low taxes are great, I get it! But so is making sure we take care of everyone in this country with affordable and quality healthcare. We can cut the quality for everyone but that makes less sense to me. We have to take care of our fellow man and unfortunately, this is the only way it will work. If you do not believe me, talk to some of the hard working callers who ask me for help each week on my radio show. People who just do not have access and are broke. They did nothing wrong other than getting sick.
Both bills recognize we have a great deal of waste in the current system and can also deliver care in a more efficient way. Cutting waste is easy so long as you can find it. As someone who works in the current healthcare system, trust me, it’s out there. The harder part is going to be looking at how we treat and pay for certain diseases. This is going to be much harder for the country to accept. The bills have structures in place to look at this issue with the Senate bill being much stronger. The question that remains is whether we as a nation are prepared to make the decisions that must be made. Hopefully with better education and more understandable information, we will be able to tackle the hard choices like when is enough going to be enough? And at what price do we say we can no longer afford it? Difficult, I know, but 100% necessary.
Stay to tuned. After many months, this is still only the beginning. But I am satisfied we are moving the in the right direction. This country will ultimately be much better off with this version of healthcare reform. We will be fixing the mistakes made in the bills for years to come but at least there will be a significant number of newly insured Americans with access to healthcare we all deserve in the greatest country in the world.