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.
“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