The bill President Obama signed Tuesday has Democrats rejoicing and Republicans up in arms. No one denies the weight of the 2,700-page colossus, but the consequences are stil unclear.
What’s it going to cost? Who’s going to pay for it?
The health care plan, which will take effect in 2013 at the earliest, is estimated to cost $940 billion during the next decade, according to MSNBC. This money will come from U.S. taxpayers. However, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill’s higher taxes will narrow the federal budget deficit by an estimated $138 billion.
An excise tax will likely be placed on sugar-sweetened drinks, tobacco, beer and wine. Tanning salon users will also experience a 10-percent increase in services as part of the “sin taxes,” according to U.S. News and World Report. These excise taxes are intended to discourage the population’s use of the products or services and therefore increase national health standards as health care reform stabilizes. Opponents of a tax increase – the majority of the American public – argue a tax increase will lead to a deficit increase as more loans are taken out and payments are delayed.
Is any part of the bill not related to health care?
An attachment to the health care bill that attempts to reform current student loan processes will change the way college students receive loans. The new bill eliminates a $60 billion government subsidy to private lenders, according to United Press. If the Senate passes the amendments, the bill will create a federal lending program that the Congressional Budget Office estimates could save $61 billion during the next decade.
What do doctors think of the plan?
The public’s feelings toward the health care bill are mixed – and doctors are no exception.
The Huffington Post reported the AARP and the American Medical Association have both publicly supported the bill, but when it comes to individual doctors, the results are about 50-50.
Doctors who support the bill are focusing on better patient care. The Springfield News Sun reported Dr. Sally Abbott, president of Clark County Medical Society, as saying the new bill will encourage people to seek care as soon as they are feeling sick instead of waiting until it is too late to do anything.
Doctors opposed to the bill are mainly concerned about the increase of insurance costs for patients. According to the www.statesman.com, the bill puts a cap on the total amount of money available for the Medicare program, and doctors already struggle with patient bills going partially or completely unpaid. Premiums are also predicted to go up because insurance companies will have to cover more people. However, some opponents argue that because the bill prevents private insurers from raising premiums too high, eventually they will be unable to compete with the government, which will leave the federal government in charge of all personal health care.
Why the rush to pass a health care bill?
Why does health care reform seem to be the most important issue to legislators and the administration?
Until Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, Democrats claimed a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. They still claim a supermajority in the House of Representatives, which means if every Democrat – or even a few less – votes in favor of a bill, Republicans don’t have enough votes to stop it. The president, the attorney general, the speaker of the House and dozens of others in high offices are all Democrats.
Health care reform was a major platform issue during elections – one of several elements of “change” desired by the majority of voters. Eighteen months later, that change had not come. Discontent was growing among Democratic voters who believed the leadership was failing to follow through on its promises. To the Republicans’ advantage, Democrats also had advertised bipartisanship as a priority during campaign season, but the debate at President Obama’s health care summit made it clear Republicans were not interested in what the Democrats had to offer. They would only vote for health care reform if Democrats trashed the bill and started again – from the beginning.
The clock was ticking, and Democratic voters were growing increasingly impatient. They wanted more than health care reform, but at this rate, no time would be left for anything else. And a displeased constituent is likely to elect a new leader the next time around.
How polarizing of an issue is health care?
The Democrats needed 216 votes to pass the health care bill, and they barely made it. The final vote was 219-212, a narrow margin of victory, and those seven votes weren’t clinched until Sunday afternoon, just hours before the vote. Seven pro-life Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak from Michigan, had resolved to vote against the bill unless language prohibiting federal funding for elective abortions was strengthened, according to www.washingtonpost.com. To win Stupak’s votes, President Obama signed an executive order reaffirming the government’s commitment to prevent federal funds being used for elective abortions, an issue covered by the Hyde Amendment and the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In addition to the 178 “no” votes from the Republicans, 34 Democrats jumped the fence to vote against the measure. Most of those, including Rep. Chet Edwards from Texas, are from conservative districts where the majority of their constituents opposed the bill. Several of them argued the executive order regarding elective abortions still was not strong enough. A majority of independent voters also opposed the bill – 54 percent according to a recent poll for CBS News – in part because of the cost of the bill.
Comments are closed