Letters to the Editor

Bad tops good in health bill

The Senate health care bill is a Trojan horse. Hiding inside the horse are the insurance industry warriors, smiling, sharpening their strategies to get around the bill’s ineffectual constraints, and tallying up their record-high stock prices.

The “good” as it stands now is overwhelmed by the “bad.”

1) Good: Elimination of pre-existing conditions.

Bad: That the insurance industry can charge up to three times the regular premium for those folks, which combined with two or three years of unconstrained premium hikes before 2013 will make coverage untenable for many.

2) Good: Hold insurance industry profits to 10 to 15 percent.

Bad: Many more informed on this say it is an apple in front of a donkey because there is no effective way to really enforce it (albeit there will be some sort of token system), and the industry will develop very clever ways to conceal profits. But even so, the profit component only affects how much they pay out to stock holders and retain for expansion, it doesn’t affect salaries and other such operating expenses.

3) Good: insurance stipend for lower-income folks.

Bad: Insurance industry has been raising its rates quite dramatically over past few years and will continue to do so until this bill is effected in 2013. Though a stipend would help those who qualify, millions of folks who make slightly more than the threshold will be forced to buy insurance they cannot begin to afford at today’s rates, let alone at tomorrow’s.

4) Good: Provide a foundation on which we can build tomorrow, as done per Medicare.

Bad: They’ve been trying to lower the Medicare age for 40-plus years, but it has never quavered from 65. The improvement presumption is just as fraught with risk as is the presumption that if we kill the bill now we can write a truly effective one a year or two from now.

So, if you think this bill needs serious revision in the conference committee it may be a good time to contact Senators Cantwell (202-224-3441) and Murray (202-224-2621).

Or you might want to contact the White House (202-456-1111) and remind the president that he actually did campaign for the public option, and that it is about time he start to show some leadership.

Robert Wilbur


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