Explaining health care reform

August 11, 2009 3:55:45 PM PDT
For some Americans, just the notion of health care reform raises the specter of both big brother, and a bureaucratic boondoggle that's sure to cost an arm and a leg in taxes.To be sure, there are still a lot of questions and a lot of confusion, but nothing has been finalized yet.

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However, there are some key points coming to light.

President Obama's health care reform calls for a government run plan to help cover the uninsured, seeking to provide coverage for all Americans, including the 45 million who are uninsured.

The president says if you already have insurance, and like your insurance, nothing will change.

That's mostly true under the current proposed House plan.

However, the bill does not require insurers or employers to continue offering the same plans.

The bill sets standards for coverage, and insurers have five years to meet those standards.

As for the President's plan to cover the uninsured: This includes a government plan.

It would be set up for anyone without health insurance who isn't getting other federal aid such as Medicaid. They would be required to buy this coverage, or get a subsidy to help them buy private coverage.

Of course funding this will be costly... It's estimated to cost up to a trillion-dollars over ten years.

President Obama said the plan would be paid for over ten years by cutting wasteful medical spending, raising taxes for people who make more than $250,000 a year, and charging businesses with a payroll over $500,000 a year a fee if they do not offer health insurance that meets a government standard.

"Small businesses with a payroll of less than half a million dollars would not be required to cover their employees, nor would they be penalized if they did not," said Dr. David Grande of the University of Pennsylvania.

Some residents voiced concern that their taxes will go towards covering illegal immigrants.

Action News did find language in the bill stating 'no federal payment for undocumented aliens.' Dr. Grande concurred, saying it is off the table.

"Illegal immigrants would not be eligible for any of the programs being created by the bills under consideration," he said.

Seniors are also very concerned. Many fear the trillion dollar reform will cut their benefits. Obama assured a crowd Tuesday it will not.

"The AARP would not endorse a bill if it was undermining Medicare," Obama said.

As for people seeking private coverage, the House plan could make things easier. Regarding getting coverage even if you have pre-existing medical problems, they would not be allowed to turn people down altogether for coverage as they do today, according to Dr. Grande.

But, Grande says struggles with getting claims covered could continue.

The House does have a proposed bill that came out of a committee, while the Senate has not drafted their version yet.

They'll do that when they're back in session in September.

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