Posts Tagged ‘affordable healthcare’

Baucus Healthcare Bill DOA, But Could Be a Blueprint for Reform

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) long-awaited centrist healthcare reform bill was met with strong objections by both liberal Democrats (who decried the lack of a public option) and Republicans (who oppose any expanded government role in healthcare).

MINIMUM WAGEStill, the Baucus proposal could serve as a blueprint for the ultimate compromise healthcare legislation that President Obama calls the “defining struggle of this generation” when it finally emerges from Congress.  Baucus’ proposal would expand consumer protections and require that all Americans have medical insurance with the government providing financial help to pay premiums for low- and middle-income people.  Insurers would no longer be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or cancel policies after people get sick.  The Baucus bill would create private healthcare insurance cooperatives, which centrist Democrats prefer in place of the public option supported by liberals.

Despite tailoring his proposal to cost less and limit government involvement in healthcare,Baucus’ proposal is unlikely to win much support from Republican Senators. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), “Americans don’t think a bigger role for government in healthcare would improve the system.  Yet despite this, every proposal we’ve seen would lead to a vast expansion of the government’s role in the healthcare system.”

The Baucus bill is unpopular with liberal Democrats who insist that a public option be included in any healthcare reform legislation.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House bill, drafted by Democrats, was superior and “clearly does more to make coverage affordable for more Americans.”  The Congressional Budget Office said the expansion of coverage would cost $774 billion over 10 years, compared with price tags of more than $1 trillion for the other measures.

RIP: The Senate’s Liberal Lion and Healthcare Reform Champion

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

ted-kennedy-dies-001Ted Kennedy’s passing deprives President Obama of a critical political ally in his efforts to reform healthcare.  In his role as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee, Kennedy fought tirelessly for decades to reform a system that today deprives 47 million Americans of affordable, accessible healthcare coverage.

In The Guardian, Michael Tomasky notes that, “The heavens somehow conspired to make this Kennedy death, however expected it might have been, nearly as heartbreaking as those of his vigorous younger brothers.  It’s not just that the great cause of the last 40 years of his life, reforming America’s healthcare system, sits at a perilous juncture, although it certainly is that, in part.  But the tragic irony of the timing is even greater, because we see in the very healthcare debate that so needed his input the precarious state of the institution to which he devoted his life, and which he shaped and influenced more than probably any other senator in history.”

Kennedy, writing in the July 27, 2009, Newsweek, declared that healthcare reform is “the cause of my life”. “In 1973, when I was first fighting in the Senate for universal coverage, we learned that my 12-year-old son Teddy had bone cancer.  He had to have his right leg amputated above the knee.  The pathology report showed that some of the cancer cells were very aggressive.  I decided his best chance for survival was a clinical trial involving massive doses of chemotherapy,” according to Kennedy.

“During those many hours at the hospital, I came to know other parents whose children had been stricken with the same deadly disease.  We all hoped that our child’s life would be saved by this experimental treatment.  Because this was part of a clinical trial, none of us paid for it.  Then the trial was declared a success and terminated before some patients had completed their treatments.  That meant families had to have insurance to cover the rest or pay for them out of pocket.  Our family had the necessary resources as well as excellent insurance coverage.”

Other heartbroken parents were not able to pay for the continued treatment and that made Kennedy realize that “No parent should suffer that torment.  Not in this country.  Not in the richest country in the world.”  So passionate was Kennedy that Americans have access to healthcare that he often paid for others’ treatment out of his own pocket when they could not afford it.

Kennedy made healthcare reform his lifelong passion, vowing “We will end the disgrace of America as the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for all of its people.”

Wherever you stand on the issue, there is no doubt that Kennedy was a great senator, a statesman that Republicans and Democrats respected and emulated.  He did not live to see the healthcare bill passed, but perhaps his death will quell partisan dissension and bring us closer to a solution.