It is almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news without hearing about healthcare. With the struggling economy, it’s one of the biggest domestic issues facing the Obama administration and Congress.
According to a study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 57 percent of those polled said that healthcare reform is either one of, or the most urgent issue in politics.
Prior to joining the Quinnipiac community, associate professor of management Angela Mattie was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow in 2000-2001. Mattie said the reform affects Quinnipiac students in many ways.
“Quinnipiac students should get educated, get involved with the political process, because this reform affects them, their families, and their future families,” Mattie said.
On Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill that addressed these issues.
Proposed by Sen. Max Baucus, the bill requires nearly all Americans to purchase healthcare plans or face a penalty. It also imposes strict regulations on insurance companies, such as forbidding the tradition of denying insurance for pre-existing conditions. The bill was passed by all of the Democrats on the committee, and one Republican, Olympia Snowe of Maine.
The “Baucus bill” now has to be merged with a bill that has already been passed by the Senate Health Committee, before it can be debated upon by all members of the Senate. If it passes in the Senate, health care legislation would also have to pass in the House of Representatives. This is very likely since Democrats hold a large majority in the House. Additionally, many Democrats like this bill for two reasons-it looks to give coverage to as many Americans as possible, and it provides a government-run alternative to private insurance.
Americans continue to disagree about the way of going about healthcare reform. The most prevalent reason is the intrusion into the private lives and wallets of citizens. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, member of the Senate Finance Committee, disagreed with Baucus’ bill, saying, “It will be clear that this bill is already moving on a slippery slope to more and more government control of health care.”
Instead of healthcare insurance control, conservatives are looking for a way to promote reform as well as competition, and also keep taxes low and unrestrictive. The Healthcare Freedom Coalition is working towards this as well as lobbying for free choice of doctors, health savings account option for all Americans, affordable health insurance for small businesses, no mandates, no government controls, and no “basic” benefit packages, such as the one that would be provided by the government in the plan many Democrats are backing.
Another conservative proposal was made by Rep. Tom Dingle. He proposed allowing people who purchase coverage in the private market to deduct the cost of premiums from their income taxes. Instead of forcing insurance companies to accept high risk patients, he proposes implementing state high-risk pools or reinsurance programs to provide coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. Dingle proposes requiring states to provide coverage to 90 percent of children with family incomes in extreme poverty, and requiring states to provide vouchers to children eligible for Medicaid to be used to purchase private insurance.
The healthcare reform issue has many intricacies.
“Any of the three proposals on the table will introduce competition into the marketplace, which creates potential for lowered costs,” Mattie said.
The reform deals directly with people’s health and, more importantly, their family’s health.
“The message I want to impart here is that you can’t be apathetic during the political process. Ultimately, it impacts everyone,” Mattie said.