Tonight I watched President Obama's health care reform speech. I have to say, I was moved. For those who did not or will not get the chance to see the speech, here's a brief recap.
Obama began by explaining the massive expense of US health care at 150% more than any other country in the world. Yet, we're not healthier because of this. And US health care is currently putting "undue" pressure on government health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Insurance costs are rising at 3x the rate of wages, and our health care costs account for 1/6th of the US economy. Obama explains that his reform "builds on what works". The reform suggests further security and stability of health care for those currently insured and a slowed growth of health care costs for businesses, governments, and citizens.
For those with health insurance or receiving Medicare or Medicaid, the reform offers no change in coverage or provider changes. The reform would make it unlawful for insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, or dropping medical coverage for those who develop an illness. The reform proposes no "cap" on coverage for the insured -- for the year or a lifetime. Lastly, the plan would limit out of pocket expenses for those insured.
For those without health insurance due to coverage lost with jobs or those in small businesses, would allow for insurance "shopping" and price comparisons, creating a competition among carriers to lower expenses for individuals seeking health care. A not-for-profit sector would also be available to those without insurance, which less than 5% of Americans are expected to utilize.
For those that choose no health insurance when "affordable options are available", basic health insurance will be required. Obama stated, "consumers do better when there's choice and competition". This can create reduced costs for tax payers by not allowing the system to be worked over by the uninsured.
Large companies must offer insurance or contribute to health care coverage. It was noted that 95% of US businesses will fall exempt from this point.
Key controversies addressed:
- the thought to "kill off seniors" was denied and deemed a lie
- illegal immigrants WILL NOT be eligible under reform
- no federal money will be spent on abortions
And as for funding the health care reform...there would be tax increases for America's richest. There would be NO increase in the budget deficit and NO money used from Medicare. Malpractice reform was suggested as a means of funding, though specifics were not discussed. In brief, the plan is projected to cost $900 billion over the span of 10 years -- less than what was spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan war and less than the tax cuts imposed on America's richest citizens during the Bush administration (which are still in place).
Obama reached all (I hope). He presented several cases of individuals who had health care who have not received the treatment their condition required, or being dropped from their health insurance provider due to their health status or condition. Such instances are tragic and could happen to ANY one of us at any time. Obama closed with sharing thoughts from a letter written by the late Ted Kennedy suggesting health care reform for moral issues above all else.
While I am interested in hearing SPECIFICS on the funding, all-in-all I'm pretty happy with all that was shared. I have to say, whether or not US citizens agree or disagree with our president, there was a complete and utter lack of respect from Congress during the speech. It is despicable that people find that acceptable, or choose to contribute themselves. Health care is a complex topic with no clear-cut solution, but crude opposition rarely gets anyone anywhere fast.
How do you feel about the suggested health care reform? I am interested to learn more and what role preventative medicine will play in the reform. Please share your thoughts -- are you more blue or more red? I think it's pretty clear where I stand : )