Here are ten benefits which come online within six months of the President's signature on the health care bill:The knee-jerk reaction from conservatives, at least the yammering mouths at Faux News, and Michael Steele, is that Republicans must run for election next fall on the platform of "repeal the bill." I'm not going to claim that is the position of thinking conservatives; first, I imagine they're still thinking about how to respond to recent events; second, I've no idea what thinking conservatives are thinking; and third, I'm not even positive "thinking conservative" isn't an oxymoron at this point. I hope it isn't. As I've said before, I have no desire to live under a government run by a single party.
- Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions
- No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage
- Free preventative care for all
- Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online. While these will not be cheap, they’re still better than total exclusion and get some benefit from a wider pool of insureds.
- Small businesses will be entitled to a tax credit for 2009 and 2010, which could be as much as 50% of what they pay for employees’ health insurance.
- The “donut hole” closes for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.
- Adult children may remain as dependents on their parents’ policy until their 27th birthday
- Requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.
- Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states (Bernie Sanders’ amendment). Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay.
- AND no more rescissions. Effective immediately, you can't lose your insurance because you get sick.
Despite the proclamations of many of the progressive bloggers, and even conservative David Frum, I don't believe this is necessarily an existential disaster for conservatives. I think the key will be to avoid drawing attention to HCR during this election cycle, rather than the converse. Because, in all seriousness (drawing on the list above, which will be fully in play about a month and a half before next fall's elections), do Republicans really want to campaign on the following?
- Children under age 19 may be excluded for pre-existing conditions. Nobody wants kids to have brain cancer, leukemia, or juvenile diabetes, and we certainly don't want anyone to have to pay for them.
- Once you reach a certain level of benefits in a year or lifetime, all further costs are out of pocket. This won't hurt for long.
- Preventative care, despite lowering later costs, will be billed just as any other service.
- Adults with pre-existing conditions are screwed.
- Small businesses will face increased taxes, and many will choose to discontinue health benefits for employees.
- The “donut hole” does not close for Medicare patients, making prescription medications less affordable. Medicare patients will be forced to return the $250 rebate that will start going out in the next months.
- Adult children may not remain as dependents on their parents’ policy after their 19th birthday, unless they are still declared as dependents. If they want insurance, must buy it. If they are injured, or become ill, well, that's what ER's are for.
- Insurance companies may continue to work behind closed doors with no public scrutiny. Because, you know, we all trust them so much. With our lives, in fact.
- Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay. They will continue to flail with underfunding, over-scheduling, under-staffing, and other shortages, to the frustration and stress of both staff and patients.
- You can lose your insurance because you get sick. Never mind that you bought insurance with the understanding that it would help cover the cost of needed care, and that you have a legal contract stating that. If an uneducated functionary can find a piece of paper that by any stretch of the imagination could be interpreted as a pre-existing condition, or when your policy comes up for renewal, it's hasta la vista, baby. Nice doing business with you.
The result, to paraphrase an old adage, would be like bringing a pom-pom to a gunfight.