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Health-reform legislation on the move in Congress

At this writing, health-reform legislation has started to move in the Senate and the House, and the outcry from opponents is intensifying.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday narrowly passed The Affordable Health Choices Act, which includes reforms that “no American can be denied health coverage because of a preexisting medical condition, or have that coverage fail to help them when they need it most,” according to a 22-page report [pdf summary], from the panel. The bill also calls for a public option.

On Tuesday, House Democrats introduced a 1,000-page bill that is now being debated in committee. “The sweeping measure would impose penalties on employers who fail to provide health insurance for their workers and on individuals who refuse to buy it,” according to the Associated Press.

Like the Senate legislation, the House bill would “require insurance companies to offer coverage, without exceptions or higher premiums in cases of pre-existing medical conditions. It also would allow the government to sell insurance in competition with private firms, a provision that has sparked objections from Republicans and even some Democrats,” AP reported.

Here’s a 35-page summary of the House legislation.

Politico shows how the White House is fighting its critics this week:

“On the defensive over the economy and health care, the White House is shooting back with a double-barreled message for its critics and skeptics. To Republicans who say the stimulus isn’t working: Back off. To moderate Democrats wary of health care reform: We’re watching you. The two different approaches — a fist to the nose and a gentle elbow nudge — reflect a White House that increasingly recognizes the political stakes at play in reviving the economy and passing health reform this year.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports the reaction of Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, to the House bill. Camp, according to the Journal, “said the bill amounted to a government take-over of the health system that would lead to the demise of employer-sponsored insurance and 100 million Americans losing their coverage. He also blasted Democrats for charging ahead with the bill even though the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t fully analyzed its cost. ‘This is not some think-tank experiment; these are people’s lives, people’s jobs we are talking about,’ said Mr. Camp.”

Related content: Pawlenty and Gingrich on health reform and Henry Ford by Casey Selix, July 15

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Glenn Mesaros on 07/17/2009 - 01:16 pm.

    the New York Times Magazine is planning to run an article by one Peter Singer in the July 19, 2009 edition entitled “Why We Must Ration Health Care.” Singer is well known as an Australian admirer of Jeremy Bentham, the Australian leader of the World Wildlife Fund, founder of Animal Liberation.

    In this article, Singer argues on behalf of the fascist policy of rationing health care, which is the cornerstone of Obama’s health plan. The article begins:

    “You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?”

    Singer goes on at length to argue that “health care is a scarce resource and all scarce resources are rationed in one way or another.” “The debate over health care reform in the United States should start from the premise that some form of health care rationing is both inescapable and desirable.”

    Perhaps most telling, is Singer’s reference to the Washington Post journalist who asked Daniel Zemel, a Washington rabbi, what he thought about federal agencies putting a dollar value on human life. According to Singer, the rabbi cited a Jewish teaching explaining that if you put one human life on one side of a scale, and you put the rest of the world on the other side, the scale balances equally. Perhaps that is how those who resist health care rationing think.”

    Singer rejects the rabbi’s teaching of the value of the individual human life, and instead arguing that “we already put a dollar value on human life.” Citing Britain’s Orwellian, fascist NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), the model for Obama’s Health Care Commission, Singer argues that “if a reformed U.S. health care system explicitly accepted rationing, as I have argued it should, QALYs (quality adjusted life years) could play a similar role in the U.S.,” to that played by the monetary unit employed by the British health system.

  2. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 07/17/2009 - 05:39 pm.

    The form of fascism practiced in the United States is called corporatism, by which corporate interests are served by and supported by government. Unlike the Senate bill, the House health care bill will at least include a public option that would meet the needs of patients instead of the profits of insurance and other medical industry corporations. If this option is lost or weakened, progressive Dems intend to vote against the entire bill.

    The CBO reported today that NONE of the plans under consideration will save money and will probably necessitate more public spending than is now the case. (Although I don’t know if they have costed the House plan yet.)

    The only plans not written to please corporate interests are HR-676 (a national single-payer plan) and S-703 (a plan allowing each state to design its own way to reach universal health care within its borders). HR-676 would save an estimated $400 billion per year, but a corporatist Congress seems not to notice.

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