On Monday November 30, the Senate began debating the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” also known as the senate overhaul health care bill. The Senate was able to secure the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill for debate, however, this in no way translates into Senate approval and many key Senators have been quick to say that this bill is not acceptable in its current form.
Although President Obama is expecting health care reform for Christmas, instead he may be given a Christmas goose to join the Thanksgiving turkey. As 2010 is a midterm election year, the possibility of comprehensive reform next year is questionable. There has been significant media attention highlighting some content of the Senate bill (2074 pages) and how it differs from the House bill (1990 pages). With Christmas a mere 25 days away, it is hard to imagine that reaching a consensus on this reform bill will occur.
Much of the Senate’s first day’s debate centered around the public option. There will be innumerable amendments proposed by Republicans and Democrats. Regardless of how the final language is written, it is unclear if it can accomplish what it is intended to accomplish: insuring the uninsured. At the same time, most Democrats believe it is necessary to drive down costs, while Republicans say it would allow the government too large a role in healthcare, to name just one of the many differences of opinion surrounding the public option.
As far as the cost of health care reform goes, both the Democratic and the Republican bills change regularly. The Senate bill includes the “botax”, a 5% surcharge on cosmetic surgery procedures, inclusion of the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage on the W2, and an excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage, perhaps the three most widely publicized revenue offset provisions. It is difficult for anyone to determine how these bills reduce costs, if in fact, they really do.
The list goes on…
There are many attractive features in both bills, however these are often little known benefits overshadowed by the bigger, more contentious issues. Health care reform continues to confuse and concern individuals, and as employers, wealth managers and financial services firms, your clients and employees ask questions.
EAB HealthWorks can assist you in preparing materials to answer questions and inform your clients and employees. Contact EAB HealthWorks for additional information.