With healthcare reform dominating the news lately, many brain and spinal cord injury patients have to be pondering the question- what does this all mean for those of us with existing injuries? Will we get improved coverage? Or will we be left in the dust, worse off than we were before? Will Obama deliver on his promise to provide affordable health care for all Americans? The recent bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee may provide some answers. The bill, if passed into law by the Senate and the House of Representatives, would restrict insurance companies from being able to reject or charge higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions.
While the Senate Finance Committee healthcare reform plan was fully expected to pass in last Tuesday’s vote, which it did, a new insurance-industry-funded report leaked over the weekend tried to convince voters that the Senate legislation would substantially increase premiums for individuals. A White House Spokesman told the Washington Times that the report, commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), was a ‘self-serving analysis from the insurance industry.’
The bill, if passed, would require all Americans to obtain health insurance, and would issue penalties to those who did not obtain it. Maine’s senator, Olympia J. Snowe, is the only republican senator on the committee who voted in favor of the health care reform bill. Snowe also helped by adding an amendment to the bill to reduce the penalties recommended for those who did not obtain health insurance in time, according to a Washington Times article. The amendment to reduce penalties was passed unanimously by the committee.
Since the bill was not stalled by the Senate Finance Committee, it now remains in the hands of the Senate to determine whether or not it will move closer to becoming law in a vote expected to occur later this month.
Republicans used the AHIP report to bolster their case against what some have termed, ‘Obamacare.’ Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, told USA Today that the health care plan in question will lead to, ‘higher premiums, higher taxes, and more government.’ Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va said to USA Today that, ‘The industry stands today as the greatest impediment to health care reform.’
The AHIP, who commissioned the controversial report, responded by saying, ‘We don’t see comprehensive cost control in any piece of legislation.’
While the Senate Finance Committee passed the healthcare reform bill on Tuesday, there still remains much work and compromise between democrats and republicans before a bill will be voted on and agreed upon between both the Senate and House of Representatives. They will all have to come to an agreement or a compromise before any serious overhaul of the health care system will be possible.
If passed into law, the bill passed to the Senate by the Senate Finance Committee would extend health insurance coverage to the over 30 million Americans currently without health insurance. The over 20 million illegal immigrants currently working in the United States would still remain without health insurance, as article in the Guardian reported.
The Senate Finance bill will cost $829 billion over ten years if passed into law, and will require all individuals to purchase health care if it costs 8% or less of their total income, and it will offer tax credits to individuals and families under 400% of the poverty line. The bill will also disallow insurance companies from denying coverage to or charging higher premiums for pre-existing conditions or gender.