House passes health insurance reform bill: Insurers benefit most

The congressional “cliffhanger” is over. President Obama convinced his Democratic Party colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a health insurance reform bill that they tout as a major overhaul of the U.S. health care system. It’s far from that. (See my prior analyses of the House and Senate bills.

Rather, H.R. 4872, The Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, is a warmed over version of the Senate health bill passed last year. (See the Kaiser Family Foundation’s comparison tool.) If approved by the U.S. Senate, which it is expected to be within the next week or so, this legislation will funnel millions of dollars into the coffers of the insurance industry through the forced enrollment of millions of new customers and increased premiums for “high-risk” clients. While the pundits claim that this extension of insurance coverage is nearly universal, the fact is that millions will still be uninsured. The bill denies coverage to millions of undocumented workers, for example. This legislation, like the Senate bill upon which it was based, continues to deny federal money to women seeking to exercise their legal right to an abortion. To make it doubly clear that he would back a ban on use of federal funds for abortions, President Obama pledged to issue an executive order endorsing this denial of funding for women to exercise their legal rights.

We need a national health system that provides care to all — documented or not; that provides all services — including abortion; and that centers on providing health care to the entire population, rather than ensuring the profits of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Monday, March 22nd, 2010 at 04:10