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The health care legislation supported by Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Ted Kennedy, has now been officially released after being leaked earlier.
I looked through its 615 pages quickly, for some of the main features of the plan, and here are the highlights:
—A requirement that insurers cover everybody who applies for coverage, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions along with community rating so that everybody gets charged the same price for coverage with some wiggle room when it comes to age (but the rate differential is still capped at 2:1).
—A mandate forcing individuals to purchase health insurance.
— An expansion of Medicaid eligibility, and subsidies to purchase health care on an insurance exchange.
—Instead of a single national exchange, it will provide funding for states to start their own exchanges, called “gateways,” which will offer a public option.
—Measures to reduce costs through the use of information technology and improved preventive care.
While I intend to take some more time to look at the specifics, at first blush, this unsurprisingly is a very liberal proposal. While it promotes itself as the “Affordable Health Choices Act” the reality is much different. It certainly wouldn’t be affordable to taxpayers, and the choices offered would be limited to what would be deemed “qualified plans” by the government. Also, while individuals would be able to choose whether or not to participate, the exchange would also be open to employers — meaning if businesses decide to dump their employers on the exchange, individuals won’t actually have much of a choice. And of course, it says that each exchange, “shall include a public health insurance option” (pg 43), which of course is a way of migrating more people to government health care over time.
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