Senate health care bill looking worse every day
by desmoinesdem, Fri Dec 11, 2009 at 12:47:34 PM EST
Health care reform bills approved by Senate committees prohibited insurance companies from limiting how many dollars they would spend on a patient's care during a year. This makes sense if your goal is to eliminate medical bankruptcies, which are unknown in most of the developed world.
But the merged Senate bill gives insurance companies an out:
As currently written, the Senate Democratic health care bill would permit insurance companies to place annual limits on the dollar value of medical care, as long as those limits are not "unreasonable." The bill does not define what level of limits would be allowable, delegating that task to administration officials. [...]
Officials of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said they were taken by surprise when the earlier ban on annual coverage limits was undercut, adding that they have not been able to get a satisfactory explanation.
"We don't know who put it in, or why it was put in," said Stephen Finan, a policy expert with the cancer society's advocacy affiliate.
Ezra Klein has supported most of the compromises made along the way, including ditching the public health insurance option, but even he thinks this is crazy:
The Senate Finance Committee barred annual caps altogether. The merged Senate bill only erases "unreasonable" annual caps. What's "unreasonable?" Hard to say.
Hill sources explain that this was inserted because CBO said premiums would "go through the roof" if insurers couldn't cap benefits. [...]
This, however, obscures the choice that's being made. The tradeoff here is slightly higher premiums for everyone versus total financial ruin for the people who absolutely need help the most. Politically, choosing "everyone" rather than "people with cancer" makes sense, because the first group has more votes than the second. But on a policy level, it's nuts. Health-care insurance literally exists to protect us from the worst-case scenarios. This provision says that the Senate bill will protect everyone but the truly worst-case scenarios. If you assume that people support the basic concept of health-care insurance, then they don't, or shouldn't, support this.
How do you think this huge "progressive victory" will go over if insurance companies are still forcing cancer patients into bankruptcy in 2012?