02 July 2009

Health Care Reform Resistance Crumbling

Yesterday, the 250,000 member American Medical association reversed its self when its new president said that the group is open to a government-funded health insurance option for people without coverage.

Dr. J. James Rohack, who is head of the AMA which represents the interests of the nation's doctors said that the AMA "...supports an American Model that includes both a private system and public option".

In May the AMA went on record before a senate committee as not supporting any government-sponsored health care plan. Now, Rohack is calling 2009 "the year we need to have affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans".

He suggested that expanding the Federal Employee Health Benefit program now available to members of congress and other federal employees would be a good "Public Option" starting point and would avoid having to start a new program from scratch.

And last evening the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee's thirteen Democrats outlined their support for a government-run insurance option and an annual fee on employers who do not offer coverage to their workers. Both are part of President Obama's suggested package which includes a Public Option partially fiananced by Pay or Play contributions from employers.

The HELP committe plan would carry a 10-year price tag of slightly over $600-billion, and would insure that an estimated 97% of Americans would have access to affordable health care. Earlier the Congressional Budget Office had projected a price tag of $1-trillion and would have left millions uninsured.

Reading the tea leaves: The fact that all thirteen Democrats on this very important committee are going to vote for the package coupled with the AMA's reversal of its objections to a Public Option Plan augers good news for the eventual passage of health care reform with a Public Option partially financed through a Play or Pay system for employers.

In short, if employers are unwilling or unable to provide "private" insurance for their employees they will be required to pay into a common pool which would provide a government-funded option for those uninsured workers and their families. It is these two meaures which bring down the overall price tag.

Late Breaking News...Senator Kay Hagan, NC-Dem, who earlier opposed a Public Option has now said she will help support the HELP-committee's plan.

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