September 9, 2009

Obama's Address on Health Care Reform

Much will be said in the coming hours and days about the speech the President gave to a joint session of Congress tonight. For those of you interested in the full text, it's available here. Without going into the rhetoric (that is, the fun stuff), here are the highlights of the Obama Plan, generally in his own words:

For people with coverage now:
  • nothing in our plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or doctor you have
  • it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexsiting condition
  • it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick, or water it down when you need it most
  • they (insurance companies0 will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can received in a given year or lifetime
  • we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses
  • insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.

If you currently don't have health insurance:

  • health insurance exchange - marketplace - where individuals or small businesses can shop for health insurance at competitive prices.

If you still can't afford the lower-priced coverage in the exchange:

  • tax credits, based on need
  • insurance companies that participate in the exchange have to meet the above requirements
  • exchange takes effect in four years
  • for those who can't get insurance today due to preexisting conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect against financial ruin if you become seriously ill

No one goes without coverage - everyone particularly the young and healthy will be required to have insurance. Hardship waivers will be available for those who still can't afford insurance and 95% of small businesses will be exempt from having to offer health care of chipping in to help pay for it.

What's not included:

  • death panels to kill off seniors
  • coverage for illegal immigrants
  • federal funding for abortions

Paying for the plan, which is $900 billion over ten years:

  • will not sign a bill that adds one penny to the deficit
  • additional spending cuts if the savings in the bill are not realized
  • savings within the existing health care system, including Medicare & Medicaid
  • an offering to take up tort reform (medical malpractice insurance)

Republican rebuttal indicated generally that the plan is too expensive and not bipartisan enough, creates too much bureaucracy, and that the public option is a bad idea. No real surprises there.

We'll talk more later.

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