Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill
By: Jane Hamsher Friday March 19, 2010 8:58 am T
The Firedoglake health care team has been covering the debate in congress since it began last year. The health care bill will come up for a vote in the House on Sunday, and as Nancy Pelosi works to wrangle votes, we’ve been running a detailed whip count on where every member of Congress stands, updated throughout the day.
We’ve also taken a detailed look at the bill, and have come up with 18 often stated myths about this health care reform bill.
Real health care reform is the thing we’ve fought for from the start. It is desperately needed. But this bill falls short on many levels, and hurts many people more than it helps.
A middle class family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible. Many families who are already struggling to get by would be better off saving the $5,243 in insurance costs and paying their medical expenses directly, rather than being forced to by coverage they can’t afford the co-pays on.
In addition, there is already a booming movement across the country to challenge the mandate. Thirty-three states already have bills moving through their houses, and the Idaho governor was the first to sign it into law yesterday. In Virginia it passed through both a Democratic House and Senate, and the governor will sign it soon. It will be on the ballot in Arizona in 2010, and is headed in that direction for many more. Republican senators like Dick Lugar are already asking their state attorney generals to challenge it. There are two GOP think tanks actively helping states in their efforts, and there is a booming messaging infrastructure that covers it beat-by-beat.
Whether Steny Hoyer believes the legality of the bill will prevail in court or not is moot, it could easily become the “gay marriage” of 2010, with one key difference: there will be no one on the other side passionately opposing it. The GOP is preparing to use it as a massive turn-out vehicle, and it not only threatens representatives in states like Florida, Colorado and Ohio where these challenges will likely be on the ballot — it threatens gubernatorial and down-ticket races as well. Artur Davis, running for governor of Alabama, is already being put on the spot about it.
While details are limited, there is apparently a “Plan B” alternative that the White House was considering, which would evidently expand existing programs — Medicaid and SCHIP. It would cover half the people at a quarter of the price, but it would not force an unbearable financial burden to those who are already struggling to get by. Because it creates no new infrastructure for the purpose of funneling money to private insurance companies, there is no need for Bart Stupak’s or Ben Nelson’s language dealing with abortion — which satisfies the concerns of pro-life members of Congress, as well as women who are looking at the biggest blow to women’s reproductive rights in 35 years with the passage of this bill. Both programs are already covered under existing law, the Hyde amendment.
But perhaps most profoundly, the bill does not mandate that people pay 8% of their annual income to private insurance companies or face a penalty of up to 2% — which the IRS would collect. As Marcy Wheeler noted in an important post entitled “Health Care on the Road to NeoFeudalism,” we stand on the precipice of doing something truly radical in our government, by demanding that Americans pay almost as much money to private insurance companies as they do in federal taxes:
When this passes, it will become clear that Congress is no longer the sovereign of this nation. Rather, the corporations dictating the laws will be.
I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don’t understand is the nonchalance with which we’re about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.
We started down a dangerous road with Wall Street banks in the early 90s, allowing them to flood our political system with money and write our laws so that taxpayers would subsidize their profits, assume their losses and remove themselves from the necessity of competition. By funneling so much money into the companies who created the very problems we are now attempting to address, we further empower them to hijack our legislative process and put more than just our health care system at risk. We risk our entire system of government.
Congress may be too far down the road with this bill to change course and save themselves — and us. But before Democrats cast this vote, which could endanger not only their Congressional majority but their ability to “fix” things later on, they should consider the first rule of patient safety: first, do no harm.
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