Health care bill debated in House

The House version of the health care reform bill is being debated today, and a vote is possible.

There is still a long way to go, but this would be an important first step in extending health insurance to virtually all Americans, ending pre-existing condition ineligibility and introducing more competition. Republicans are unanimously opposed, but the Dems are in control. They should
pass the bill.

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About fsnowflack
Fred Snowflack was editorial page editor and a political columnist for the Daily Record of Morristown for almost 12 years. He has won numerous awards for editorial and column writing from the New Jersey Press Association and has written a blog on county and state politics for the last three years. He lives in Ledgewood in Morris County.

34 Responses to Health care bill debated in House

  1. Ed Ramirez says:

    Fred

    I would make a bet that you have not read the new bill. I am on page 385 and I do not find any value it this bill that would impose a mandate on Americans that could have them being put in jail. READ the BILL !!!! before you tout how important it is to Americans. This bill in mealy and attempt for the government to take control of 1/6 of out GDP and to make us slaves to their health care plans.

  2. Ed:
    First of all, I owe you a Grand Cafe dinner regarding the Morris Township race

    Second, I have not yet read the entire bill, but I am trying. I know enough to disagree with your interpretation… The idea is for more people to have insurance and thereby, reduce rates. I trust the government much more than I trust private insurance companies. People have control over the government in that they can vote people out of office … My insurance is with Blue Cross/Blue Shield .. Last time I checked I am unable to vote the Blue Cross/Blue Shield
    board of directors out of office.

  3. Richard Babcock says:

    Fred,
    You, and too many people, fail to understand that once an entitlement program is enacted, it is near impossible to stop it. This IS an entitlement program and redistributionist policy, this IS a way to grow government in both size and scope, and this IS a further erosion of the rights of the individual. You may trust the government more than an insurance company, as foolish as that may be, why would you wish to re-invent a system rather than improve upon it. The model is not broken, it simply needs to be improved via less intrusion by the government, not more. The administration speaks of finding $400-500 billion in waste, fraud and abuse in Medicaid and Medicare … why not prove that first, and then be able to adjust the system from there. Why not first use free market solutions, adjustments in the system, and smarter regulations first before we allow the best system in the world to be thrown away and replaced by a completely new one. Do you believe that they are avoiding tort reform because it won’t work to decrease malpractice insurance and defensive medicine costs (which are huge parts of the skyrocketing costs)? or do you think it is because they are unwilling to take on the trial attorney lobby that was so generous to they campaign? Why not first see the value of allowing interstate competition? why not first try attaching the policy ownership to the individual to promote greater portability and solve the pre-existing issue that is most often faced at times of job change? Why not first do what is logical and in the best interest of the majority rather than again punish them? The reason is simple, power and dependency. This is where liberals and conservatives differ in their world view. Liberals believe that government is the solution to every problem and conservatives see that an over-reaching (though sometimes well-meaning) federal government is the cause of many of the problems. There are logical and free market solutions that should be tried before we allow the federal government to take this enormous step in expanding its control and taking freedom and liberty away from the individual.

  4. Millington says:

    A Republican congressman from La. voted for the bill.

  5. Hi Richard:
    I do not disagree with the need for tort reform; that may come in time.
    But on your larger point, I simply do not see what you, or others, are talking about in regard to the loss of freedom argument. Tell me, what freedom would be lost? Also, how is the majority being punished? I am in the majorirty in that I have health insurance through the blessed Daily Record _ for the time being,at least. One reason I pay a very high copay is because of the many people without insurance who get health care for nothing, Insuring them combined with a stong public option to compete with insurance companies would bring down costs. And in my mind, it would be the morally right thing to do.

  6. P says:

    An Editorial in today’s WSJ –

    Confessions of an ObamaCare Backer
    A liberal explains the political calculus.

    The typical argument for ObamaCare is that it will offer better medical care for everyone and cost less to do it, but occasionally a supporter lets the mask slip and reveals the real political motivation. So let’s give credit to John Cassidy, part of the left-wing stable at the New Yorker, who wrote last week on its Web site that “it’s important to be clear about what the reform amounts to.”

    Mr. Cassidy is more honest than the politicians whose dishonesty he supports. “The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment,” he writes. “Let’s not pretend that it isn’t a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won’t. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind.”

    Why are they doing it? Because, according to Mr. Cassidy, ObamaCare serves the twin goals of “making the United States a more equitable country” and furthering the Democrats’ “political calculus.” In other words, the purpose is to further redistribute income by putting health care further under government control, and in the process making the middle class more dependent on government. As the party of government, Democrats will benefit over the long run.

    This explains why Nancy Pelosi is willing to risk the seats of so many Blue Dog Democrats by forcing such an unpopular bill through Congress on a narrow, partisan vote: You have to break a few eggs to make a permanent welfare state. As Mr. Cassidy concludes, “Putting on my amateur historian’s cap, I might even claim that some subterfuge is historically necessary to get great reforms enacted.”

    No wonder many Americans are upset. They know they are being lied to about ObamaCare, and they know they are going to be stuck with the bill.

    Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A24

  7. Gee .. I hope it works out exactly that way.

  8. P says:

    Fred – It’s incredible that anyone who follows politics, especially NJ politics as you do would write “I trust the government more than . . “!

  9. P says:

    Let’s examine some other large government programs to see how well our governments spend our money before we create the largest entitlement program of all time –

    Federal Programs:
    Medicare
    – In the Red and already BROKE. It now adds to our federal deficit every year.
    Social Security – Also in the Red this year and quickly heading for insolvency.

  10. P says:

    ARGH . . posting to this site is like dealing with the Federal Government. If our soon-to-be-enacted health care reform works as well as this site all Dems will be out of office by 2016!

  11. P says:

    State Programs:
    Highway Trust Fund
    – The fund has no money for new roads or road repairs, but is billions in debt that we’ll be paying for over the next 30 years. It was supposed to be Pay-as-You-Go, but no one wants to manage within those financial constraints so, it’s busted.

  12. Ted says:

    Pbrain, Two questions. If health care reform fails, will health care costs reduce? And will more citizens be covered?

  13. P says:

    Better Questions – If it passes how much more Debt will we incur (in the TRILLIONS), and how long before we have Nationalized Health Care?

  14. Ted says:

    Pbrain, The Congressional Budget Office confirms that America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is deficit neutral over the 10-year budget window – and even produces a $6 billion surplus. CBO estimated more than $550 billion in gross Medicare and Medicaid savings. More importantly, the bill includes a comprehensive array of delivery reforms to set the stage for lowering the future growth in health care costs.

    now answer the question Pbrain. What happens to costs if reform fails?

  15. P says:

    Sorry, people who quote us the ten year, CBO “estimate” have already exposed themselves as fools or naives. Of course it “balances” over ten years. That’s what happens when you tax people for 10 years, and provide services for 6 or 7. But what happens in Year 11 when the imbalance is hundreds of billions per year? Do we borrow the money to provide health care just for that year (that’s insane), or start raising more taxes (almost as insane)?

    And if Obama has the fix for Medicare’s disastrous financial situation, why not prove that we can fix that first? Note – That’s a rhetorical question because the answer is they can’t, it is all fraud/waste/abuse smoke and mirrors; or they can, but only by imposing caps across the board.

    So the answer is, costs go up either way unless the government steps in and takes over the whole system and says we’ll only spend X, and we know what the word is for that – Rationing!

    P.S. That $6B is already a fantasy because they still have to roll in the Medicare “Fix.” You do remember that fiasco – http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/22/senate-defeats-costly-medicare-fix/

    Everyone – Please stop drinking the Heath Care Reform Kool-Aid, read the details of the bill and think about how today’s promises always become tomorrow’s problems when our friends in WDC are involved.

  16. Ted says:

    So Pbrain, We’re supposed to ignore the CBO and accept your opinion? At least you recognize things are fine for 11 years. But your scenario assumes no further actions and projects a straight line to bankruptcy.

    Why do you believe Conservatives are the only ones who perceive the dangers of inaction? Pbrain, Progressives see it too. The difference is that Progressives will make the necessary adjustments, Conservatives would rather run the system into the ground.

    Now answer the question Pbrain. What happens to costs if reform fails?

  17. P says:

    Too bad the software doesn’t allow HTML code for larger type size, then Ted could shout at me in 72pt type.

    Actually, things won’t be fine for even eleven years because the government estimators never get anything right when it comes to big bloated bureaucracies, but people keep touting the CBO Ten Year Estimate and ignore the fact that the whole program was written just to get the answer they received – All’s fine for ten years (but don’t ask about the future, because it is a DISASTER).

    As far as “adjustments,” why not “adjust” Medicare so we can see how well the “progressive” plan works on that mess? The program is effectively bankrupt, but no one wants to address it because it would poison the well for all the wonderful “reform” plans.

    As an added bonus – I was reading an article online and I thought I’d share a portion of it. The whole thing is available here – http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/camille_paglia/index.html?story=/opinion/paglia/2009/11/10/pelosi

    As for the actual content of the House health care bill, horrors! Where to begin? That there are serious deficiencies and injustices in the U.S. health care system has been obvious for decades. To bring the poor and vulnerable into the fold has been a high ideal and an urgent goal for most Democrats. But this rigid, intrusive and grotesquely expensive bill is a nightmare. Holy Hygeia, why can’t my fellow Democrats see that the creation of another huge, inefficient federal bureaucracy would slow and disrupt the delivery of basic health care and subject us all to a labyrinthine mass of incompetent, unaccountable petty dictators? Massively expanding the number of health care consumers without making due provision for the production of more health care providers means that we’re hurtling toward a staggering logjam of de facto rationing. Steel yourself for the deafening screams from the careerist professional class of limousine liberals when they get stranded for hours in the jammed, jostling anterooms of doctors’ offices. They’ll probably try to hire Caribbean nannies as ringers to do the waiting for them.

    A second issue souring me on this bill is its failure to include the most common-sense clause to increase competition and drive down prices: portability of health insurance across state lines. What covert business interests is the Democratic leadership protecting by stopping consumers from shopping for policies nationwide? Finally, no health care bill is worth the paper it’s printed on when the authors ostentatiously exempt themselves from its rules. The solipsistic members of Congress want us peons to be ground up in the communal machine, while they themselves gambol on in the flowering meadow of their own lavish federal health plan. Hypocrites!

    And why are we even considering so gargantuan a social experiment when the nation is struggling to emerge from a severe recession? It’s as if liberals are starry-eyed dreamers lacking the elementary ability to project or predict the chaotic and destabilizing practical consequences of their utopian fantasies.

    International models of socialized medicine have been developed for nations and populations that are usually vastly smaller than our own. There are positives and negatives in their system as in ours. So what’s the point of this trade? The plight of the uninsured (whose number is far less than claimed) should be directly addressed without co-opting and destroying the entire U.S. medical infrastructure. Limited, targeted reforms can ban gouging and unfair practices and can streamline communications now wastefully encumbered by red tape. But insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry are not the sole cause of mounting health care costs, and constantly demonizing them is a demagogic evasion.

    How dare anyone claim humane aims for this bill anyhow when its funding is based on a slashing of Medicare by over $400 billion? The brutal abandonment of the elderly here is unconscionable. One would have expected a Democratic proposal to include an expansion of Medicare, certainly not its gutting. The passive acquiescence of liberal commentators to this vandalism simply demonstrates how partisan ideology ultimately desensitizes the mind.

    Last week’s startling gubernatorial victories by Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey were routinely dismissed as local aberrations by the liberal media or inflated as referendums on President Obama by the conservative media. But voters were clearly revolting against the deranged excess spending of government at both state and federal levels. So it was as much a protest against Congress as against the White House.

    ==

    When “progressives” from your own party tell you this “reform” bill is a mess, you might want to consider your full-throated support.

    As far as health care costs, they are going UP no matter what Congress does, unless (as I’ve noted BEFORE) they take over the ENTIRE system and put a hard dollar figure on the amount to be spent on ALL medical care.

  18. Ted says:

    Pbrain, You’ve got to stop using opinion pieces to justify your opinion. You need facts. Further, you should also stop trying to soften your opponent by prefacing comments with attempts to demean. You’re just not good at it and it’s a tell that what follows is pure blathert

    Pbrain,You state that health costs will continue to increase regardless of congressional action but neglect to acknowledge the current 5% cost escalation rate or discuss a rate mitigated by savings and delivery improvements

  19. P says:

    Once again, several really good responses eaten by the DR blog site software.

  20. P says:

    For the fifth time, let’s see if the site loves me today –

    1.) You can’t call some one a “pea brain” and also tell them not to “demean” others and still maintain your credibility.

    2.) In case you hadn’t noticed, I never take your advice, so save everyone’s time (and the DR’s server’s disk space) and stop telling others how they should argue their positions.

    3.) Your request for “facts” is laughable, as always. You never supply any, or any other material to support the gibberish you publish as sage wisdom.

    4.) Can anyone translate Teddy’s last paragraph into something that a sentient being can understand?

    5.) There are many factors that increase COSTs, but one way to guarantee that they will go up faster than before is to offer MORE services to MORE people, which is what will happen under the current “reform” plan. The Laws of Economics state that when you increase Demand, and hold the Supply steady, PRICE will GO UP! And that is a FACT! Health Care “Reform” may do many things, but Bending the Cost Curve down is not one of them.

  21. Ted says:

    So what happened to the “good” responses? Did you forget what they said?

  22. P says:

    I guess that was an insult posed as a rhetorical question. If so, you missed the mark. And it wasn’t “they,” it was ME. Your loss. And by “You(r)”, I mean everyone BUT Ted.

  23. P says:

    Next time someone tells you that the reason the Public Option is so great and cheaper than any private insurance because the government’s adminstrative costs are lower, remember this article – http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/11/nj_engineers_say_stimulus-fund.html

    Same goes for anyone telling you how the Obama Stimulus Plan is working so wonderfully to fix the economic mess left behind by GWB.

  24. Ted says:

    Pbrain, regulations might slow things down but the don’t add administrative costs.

  25. P says:

    I would reread what you wrote and find the flaw in your logic. I will be adding it to the Top 10 List of “The Dumbest Things Ever Written by Ted.” And believe me, the list is long and comprehensive, so to get into the Top 10 is a real feat.

  26. P says:

    Wrong and wrong, as the linked story easily demonstrates.

    I can’t understand how someone who thinks so highly of himself would actually believe that the US Government isn’t the epitome of inefficiency, and why they would want them to run our entire health care system. If you think things are bad now, just wait till Uncle Sam is completely in charge. We’ll be getting way less for more. Guaranteed.

  27. Ted says:

    Opinion, try posting facts once and a while

  28. P says:

    Given that the health care “reform” debate is about the future, it’s all opinion, conjecture, WAG, etc. And the US Government’s inefficiency is documented almost every day in periodicals across America.

    I’ve posted plenty of facts over the past six months, but even simple definitions like “entitlement” or “welfare” or “insurance”, which should not be up for dispute, get twisted until everything becomes a debate about what the meaning of the word “is” is!

    The last “fact” that you posted was the laugh-er about Adam Smith being one of our “Founding Fathers!” For Christmas, I’m getting you a lifetime subscription to Wikipedia.

    As for Thanksgiving, tomorrow, I plan to give thanks that I’m not as clueless as a certain poster (poseur) from RT.

    Have a great holiday, Fred, and all my friends at MP.

  29. Ted says:

    First you say it’s all conjecture, then you suggest this conjecture is documentation. Make up your mind Pbrain

  30. P says:

    Even the most simple minded person can see that there are two sentences and two separate thoughts. I guess I should have made them two paragraphs so even you could figure it out. But then, you knew that, and this is just another lame attempt to “prove me wrong.”

    But I did know that Adam Smith wasn’t a Founding Father. Have you worked that one out yet?

    Have a restful Thanksgiving.

  31. P says:

    Next time someone tells you how they think that the US Government can do a better job running the health care system than private enterprise, consider whether any company would ever do anything this stupid –

    Miles for Nothing: How the Government Helped Frequent Fliers Make a Mint
    Free Shipping of Coins, Put on Credit Cards, Funds Trip to Tahiti; ‘Mr. Pickles’ Cleans Up

    By SCOTT MCCARTNEY – WSJ.com

    Enthusiasts of frequent-flier mileage have all kinds of crazy strategies for racking up credits, but few have been as quick and easy as turning coins into miles.

    At least several hundred mile-junkies discovered that a free shipping offer on presidential and Native American $1 coins, sold at face value by the U.S. Mint, amounted to printing free frequent-flier miles. Mileage lovers ordered more than $1 million in coins until the Mint started identifying them and cutting them off.

    Coin buyers charged the purchases, sold in boxes of 250 coins, to a credit card that offers frequent-flier mile awards, then took the shipments straight to the bank. They then used the coins they deposited to pay their credit-card bills. Their only cost: the car trip to make the deposit.

    Richard Baum, a software-company consultant who lives in New Jersey, ordered 15,000 coins. “I never unrolled them,” he says. “The UPS guy put them directly in my trunk.”

    Patricia Hansen, a San Diego retiree who loves to travel, ordered $10,000 in coins from the Mint. “My husband took them to the bank,” Ms. Hansen says, and she earned 10,000 miles toward free or upgraded travel.

    That’s small change compared with what some mile collectors did. The coin program was a popular play on FlyerTalk.com, an online community where frequent travelers and mileage mavens share travel tips and profitable mileage plays. One FlyerTalker, identified by his online moniker, Mr. Pickles, claims to have bought $800,000 in coins. He posted pictures of the loot on FlyerTalk.

    He says his largest single deposit was $70,000 in $1 coins. He used several banks and numerous credit cards. He earned enough miles to put him over two million total at AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, giving him lifetime platinum-elite status — early availability of upgrades for life and other perks on American and its partners around the world. He also pumped miles into his account at UAL Corp.’s United Airlines and points into his Starwood Preferred Guest program account.

    A spokesman for the Mint says it has no record of anyone purchasing that many coins, but orders could have been shipped to different names and addresses.

    Another FlyerTalk member used the coin program to help earn a free two-week trip to Tahiti that he took with his wife at the end of October. He worked hotel, airline and credit-card programs carefully to pull together the rewards he wanted.

    The allure of frequent-flier miles, which were introduced by American in 1981, was that they offered something for nothing. The miles rewarded loyalty and proved to be an extremely powerful marketing tool.

    Now, airlines have turned miles into more than a competitive device; they have become a currency that airlines can sell, usually at less than a penny a mile, to other merchants to generate revenue. More miles are put into circulation by companies — including credit-card issuers, hotels, mortgage servicers, and florists — than are given to travelers for flights.

    The mile is such a cherished commodity that airlines have even bolstered their balance sheets by preselling billions of miles. Citigroup Inc., which gives away American AAdvantage miles to credit-card customers, agreed to lend American $1 billion in September. The loan is to be repaid between 2012 and 2016 — not in cash but in miles.

    Pushing miles into everyday commerce has created unique opportunities for mileage addicts. For many, chasing miles is a way to vastly improve their travel. Accumulate enough miles to land elite status, and you get early boarding, better seat selection, access to upgrades, premium check-in and security lines, and sometimes use of fancy airport lounges on international trips. It goes far beyond just tallying miles for free tickets.

    Landing those free tickets has gotten more expensive in recent years as airlines have pushed the number of miles required for many trips higher and as they have added fees and co-payments to some awards. Consumers are often frustrated as well by difficulty in getting the trips they want on the dates they want since airlines restrict availability of award seats. But the airline mile remains a potent perk that consumers chase around the world.

    Even with all the offers that are available, the deal the Mint offers — free miles without spending any dollars — is unique. The Mint says the dollar-coin free-shipping offer began in June 2008. About $130 million in coins have been issued to 40,000 buyers, mostly coin collectors, community banks and small businesses such as vending-machine companies and car washes.

    The Mint says it costs, on average, about $3 to ship each 250-coin box. So $10,000 in coins would be 40 boxes, or $120 in shipping. As for credit-card costs to the government, a Treasury Department agency handles all government credit-card transactions and negotiates costs. No particular credit-card expense is charged to the Mint, a spokesman says.

    In late August and September, officials noticed a sharp uptick in “large repetitive orders” from a group of individuals, Mint spokesman Tom Jurkowsky says. At about the same time, the Mint received reports from banks around the country that coins were being deposited that were still in their U.S. Mint boxes, he says.

    Officials found Internet chat rooms where the coins-for-miles scheme was detailed. Letters were sent to customers asking whether their intended use complied with the program’s purpose. Customers who didn’t respond were blocked from the program, Mr. Jurkowsky says. Fewer than 400 buyers were blocked, he says.

    “Is this illegal? No. Is it the right thing to do? No, it’s not what the program is intended to do,” Mr. Jurkowsky says.

    Dollar coins save the country money because they can last 30 years or more and can be recycled, the Mint says. A paper dollar in circulation lasts only about 21 months, says the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The free-shipping program is meant to put more coins into day-to-day use.

    The Mint has added a warning to its Web site that credit-card companies could consider the purchases cash-equivalent transactions not eligible for miles, and Mint officials plan to contact credit-card issuers “to try to implement a solution,” he says.

    Mileage fanatics say merchants and hotel programs can be an excellent way to supplement frequent-flier accounts.

    Hyatt Hotels Corp. currently offers its Gold Passport program members a free night for every two nights at one of the chain’s properties through Jan. 31. The free nights come with no blackout dates but have to be used by March 31. Charles Witt, a facilities planner in Washington, D.C., stopped by a suburban Hyatt Place hotel on his way home from work several times this fall, swiped his credit card to buy a $50 room and went home, never opening the door to the hotel room.

    For every $100 he spent, he got a free night at any Hyatt. He booked three free nights at the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo over New Year’s — rooms that would have cost him $600 a night.

    “Once you start on this road, it’s very hard to get off,” says Mr. Witt.

    Hyatt says the promotion is meant to engender loyalty, and most customers use it more traditionally, collecting free nights for regular stays. But the company welcomes people so passionate about its hotels that they’ll go to elaborate lengths to stay at Hyatt.

    “We don’t discourage that,” says Jeff Zidell, vice president of Hyatt’s Gold Passport program. “There are those extremists in whatever business you’re in who do what they can to get the most out of it.”

    The US Mint paid for the shipping & paid a percentage of the sale to the credit card companies to process the transactions, and basically receiving ninety to ninety-five cents on the dollar!

    Gives new meaning the the phase, we’ll lose money on each sale, but make it up in volume.

  32. P says:

    Uh, oh . . looks like the NEA/NJEA finally woke up and realized that Congress (in this case, the Senate) is serious about taxing Cadillac (aka their) Health Care Plans – http://www.njea.org/page.aspx?a=4145

    Time to kill that part of the bill before insurance companies and BOEs are faced with another reason to demand that the NJEA’s members pay their fair share of their platinum plated health care costs.

    Nut Graf –
    One projection, based on the average cost of family insurance coverage provided through the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program, shows that the excise tax is likely to kick in by year two. By year ten, based on projected growth in the cost of insurance, the tax could well exceed $10,000 on a family premium. That cost will certainly pass from the insurance company to the employer who pays the premium. Employers will attempt to shift the burden to employees. The end result: higher costs for middle class families.

    It’s somewhat comical that they are worried about their middle class families (their membership), but not the tax paying public that pays their salaries and covers their benefits 100%. Most are, on average, actually less well-off middle class families! Oh well, sucks not to be us.

  33. Joni Knedler says:

    Good day. Right employment. I do not assume this over a Wednesday. This is a superb history. Gives thanks!

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