The House has announced that it has a healthcare reform bill with a public option that it will release to the floor next week. The bill will not reimburse providers at Medicare rates +5% which is a big disappointment but it will contain a public option where reimbursement rates will be negotiated instead. The hypocritical part is that the corporate blue dog Democrats who claim they are fiscally conservative favor a plan that is just the opposite because consumers and taxpayers will spend more then they would under a robust public option. This being said the public option in the healthcare bill is still worth supporting because it is still a big first step.
Though details of the legislation have not been released yet one of the good parts of the House’s plan is that it will put some real guidelines on the horrible behavior of insurance companies. Like I stated in a previous article on the Planet, if congress just legislates and limits the profits that healthcare insurance companies can make it would go a long way toward real healthcare reform. One key part of the House bill has a provision where where 85% of premiums must be directed towards claims. Since healthcare profits and overheads are around 20-30% that is a major improvement. Following are some excerpts from the wire story describing parts of the House plan’s efforts to legislate.
“Thursday’s bill includes an array of new restrictions on the private insurance industry, in addition to forcing insurers to compete with the federal government for business.
Firms would be banned from denying coverage on the basis ofand limited in their ability to charge higher premiums on the basis of age.
They would be required to spend 85 percent of their income from premiums on coverage, effectively limiting their ability to advertise or pay bonuses. Additionally, the industry would be stripped of immunity from antitrust regulations covering price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation. And in a late addition to the bill, 30-year-old restrictions on the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to look into the insurance industry would be erased.”
In the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has expressed confidence that he can get the 60 votes need to pass his version of healthcare reform which includes a public option with the “opt out” clause. Moreover he has asked for our help in the following YouTube video that he published to have supporters of the public option contact member of congress.
Following are all the links you will need to contact congress and the white house to support the public option.
Contact the White House and tell them the public option is essential.
You can also call or write to the President:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Please include your e-mail address
Visitors Office: 202-456-2121
House and Senate Democratic Leadership
Contact Senators undecided about the public option
US Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.
Contact the Blue Dog Coalition in the House