What's Contained In The Senate Health-Care Bill - And What It Means

This might not be as bad as I first thought. Now, keeping in mind that this is not the final version, I'm linking to stories about the Senate healthcare bill here, here, here, here, here and here.

News reports state that Howard Dean was working behind the scenes to push the Medicare buy-in as a compromise (just as he suggested when I interviewed him a few months ago).

I do think it's possible to get good, affordable coverage without the public option - under some circumstances. Bill Clinton told us as much when we met with him back in June, pointing out how French and German plans included regulated private insurers.

The Franken amendment setting a mandatory medical loss ratio is about the only thing they could do that would work as well as a public option in creating competition - and it's in there.

And it's certainly a win for our side if it turns out that people aged 55 to 64 can buy into Medicare. Of course, none of us know what those actual premiums look like because Medicare is so heavily subsidized for its current population. Here's the estimated premium. My guess is, once people get into the plan, they'll start lobbying their reps for more subsidies - and to open the plan up even more.

One of the problem areas that's a national disgrace is how the handicapped have to wait a couple of years before they can get Medicare coverage. It would be great if something in this bill fixes that, but we don't have the details yet.

Oh, and the Chamber of Commerce and the GOP will hold a press conference today urging Congress to scrap the entire bill and work on lowering costs. (Not your costs - their costs!) My rule of thumb is, if the Chamber hates it, I'm for it.


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