You know, it really is depressing - and infuriating - to see how little will actually be accomplished with this so-called health care "reform."
And unless the House leadership waves a magic wand in the conference committee hearings, I doubt much will change:
Measured against the promises President Obama and congressional Democrats have made about health-care reform, the bill the Senate begins debating this week could be setting Americans up for disappointment: Some of the main reforms would not take place for several years, and even when they do, some observers say, the bill does too little to make sure they would be enforced.
Until 2014, insurance companies could continue to deny coverage or charge higher premiums based on people's medical history. Another highly touted reform -- banning annual and lifetime limits on coverage -- would take effect in 2010, but it would permit significant exceptions.
Even with those rules in place, "there's no power to really hold the insurance companies accountable," said consumer advocate Betty Ahrens, executive director of the Iowa Citizen Action Network. "It's toothless."
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said the bill was a compromise. "This is not the legislation we would have written in a perfect world, but Senator Reid believes that this bill has the best chance possible to get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster," Manley said.
The delay in implementing some key reforms contrasts with the urgency of Obama's call for action.
Although some changes might take years to implement, Obama said in July, "We shouldn't have to wait a long time to make sure that people don't lose their insurance because of a preexisting condition."
Delaying relief until 2014 means that Obama could face reelection -- and Congress be transformed by two elections -- before voters begin feeling the legislation's full effect.
Here's the real kicker: The feds won't even enforce their own laws. That's right, kids, it'll be left to the notoriously industry-friendly state regulators. The feds will only get involved under rare conditions.
Which means never. This is exactly what happened with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Insurers weren't allowed to make rescissions unless consumers defrauded the insurer or deliberately misrepresented their medical condition.
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