To no one's great surprise, the House bill for health care reform includes a public option. When Nancy Pelosi says something is non-negotiable, you'd better believe her. In general, the bill is exactly what most of us thought it would be. The big thing is the Health Insurance Exchange that would allow people who aren't covered for whatever reason to buy insurance through the exchange, which would increase competition and drive down prices. There's also a mandate, which is uncomfortable but should help drive down costs.
One big thing the bill does that will help a lot of people out is it not only bans denials based on pre-existing conditions, but it also bans premium increases. This was a major concern of mine, because simply mandating that insurance companies cover everyone doesn't really help that much, if they just jack the rates up on the people with pre-existing conditions. The elimination on caps will also help people with catastrophic illnesses.
What makes reading this summary of the bill really exciting is that not only did the House make sure to get the minimum basic decency standards covered, but they threw in a bunch of goodies on top of the necessities:
# Guarantees that every child in America will have health care coverage that includes dental, hearing and vision benefits.
# Provides better preventive and wellness care. Every health care plan offered through the exchange and by employers after a grace period will cover preventive care at no cost to the patient.
# Increases the health care workforce to ensure that more doctors and nurses are available to provide quality care as more Americans get coverage.
If you think about it, moves like eliminating the co-pay on preventive care will save a lot of money over the long run, because it will encourage people to get that preventive care. For instance, I got the flu shot yesterday and balked slightly when they said it was $25, because my insurance doesn't cover it. I did decide to get it, because I got the flu a couple years ago, and I was reminded of how bad it really is. Plus, I missed SXSW, even with my wristband, because I didn't feel up to going. Imagine a world where the flu shot is free and available everywhere you go. The enormous gains in productivity alone would make it worth it.
Of course, some things haven't been hammered out yet, primarily because of this whiny fuckwad. Representative Stupak has made it his life's work to whine and whine until women who currently have abortion coverage with their insurance see that coverage disappear. Stupak is either stupid or lying, because if his only concern is not using federal funds to pay for abortion, then the Capps amendment should satisfy him. But he's threatening to try to shut down the entire bill unless there's a stiffer anti-choice amendment attached. At which point, I have to assume that he wants to take away care, because the Capps amendment he objects so strenuously to doesn't really affect abortion care one way or another. I swear to god, his strategy for getting his way appears to be whining Pelosi to death. This is where her status as the mother of five children really matters, I suppose, because I'm sure she's learned to be strong in the face of all sorts of childish whining.
The irony in all this is that I think that a lot of Americans who have abortion coverage in their insurance plan don't realize it. As Amy Sullivan discovered, Focus on Family---who is throwing a mega shit fit over "federal" funding of abortion under the Capps amendment, funding that doesn't exist---covers its employees through a company that, you guessed it, covers abortion. I've joked to friends that most anti-choicers who are freaking out over this probably have insurance plans that cover abortion, but they probably just never thought about it. The abortion freak-out is 100% red herring, an attempt to halt health care reform with bullshit tactics. The result of all this coverage of the issue might be that a lot more people are made aware that insurance plans usually do cover abortion, and there might be an uptick in people billing their insurance companies for it.