By now even those with the most casual interest in the workings, or lack thereof, of our national legislature have seen the drama being acted out in the US Senate over the new health care bill. One almost needs a road map to plot the journies of the various members of the Senate in coming to grips with the new health care bill. The latest U-turn comes from the proposal to allow those aged 55-64 to buy into Medicare.
I applaud the proposal. But there are many Senators who have major concern with it. Obviously there is concern about the cost of this move since Medicare is designed to serve those over 65 and, more importantly, funded to only cover us “old boys.” So the question arises, “how to pay for the new members?” No answer to this yet.
Another question arises, “how will those currently unable to pay for health insurance be able to pay for Medicare?” You have to understand that Medicare participants pay part of the cost and the 55-65 members would have to pay even more. The answer to this lies in the new bill’s provision for government subsidies to low income appliants to allow them to buy in. Indeed, these subsidies will be available for lower income applicants to buy into any health insurance plan, since the new bill will require all people to buy health insurance.
I am really amazed by Senator Olympia Snowe’s (Republican, Maine) resistence to this move. She says it will compound the problem of Medicare paying lower fees to medical practioners than do private insurers. Hello, that is the main reason I support the move. We have to put tighter limits on the exhorbitent fees charged by doctors. And Medicare is one way to do this. Doesn’t she want to stem the exponential growth in health care costs?
Another part of the bill is likely to be a killer. One of the ways envsioned to raise the funds needed to fund the new plan is to tax payments made to current health care insurance. The mind boggles. We will tax those who are already prudent enough to buy health insurance to pay for those have so far opted out. Why not tax payments for private education to pay for public education? This is a quaranteed wedge in the discussion.
And so we slog on in an effort to sell a new bill that consists of 4000 pages in its two versions. It will be a close race to see if the ribbon can be cut before the edifice collapses.