Note: This article is from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
(from Telegraph.co.uk) – Barack Obama’s plans to reform US health care face a critical congressional vote on Tuesday.
But on the eve of the crucial test for the US president’s top domestic policy priority, the White House and the health insurance industry descended into open conflict.
Mr Obama has promised to reform the US health care system, asserting that all Americans are entitled to insurance coverage, that costs must be cut significantly to reduce soaring federal debt and that private insurers must be prevented from denying coverage or dropping it when a person becomes seriously ill.
As the Senate Finance Committee prepares to vote on the $829 billion, 10-year plan, the powerful US health insurance lobby has launched a late bid to thwart the measure.
A study by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the insurance lobby warned that the bill before the committee would hike projected cost rises per family by $1,700 in four years, and by $4,000 in the next decade.
The America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) lobby group, which commissioned the report, argued that new taxes on health insurance plans, medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical giants would pass on extra costs to consumers.
The report marked a change of tactics: the industry, blamed for killing a health reform effort by then president Bill Clinton in the 1990s, had previously worked to mould the bill in talks with the White House and Congress.
The White House quickly dismissed the report’s credibility.
“The analysis completely ignores critical policies that will lower costs for those that have insurance, expand coverage and provide affordable health insurance options to millions of Americans who are priced out of today’s health insurance market or are locked out by unfair insurance company practices,” said Reid Cherlin, a White House spokesman.
Republicans believe the Democrats’ reform measure will unduly increase the national debt and wrongly intrude on the private sector. And some members of the opposition party see it as a chance to score political points by sinking a measure at the core of Mr Obama’s presidency.
Most controversial among those issues would be establishment of a government program in competition with the private insurance industry. That, for now, has been written out of the Senate Finance Committee plan that goes to a vote among members of the panel on Tuesday.
If the Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Committee passes the proposal on Tuesday as expected, the proposal would move on for debate among all 100 senators. Republicans, while a minority in the Senate, hold sufficient votes to stall passage through a procedure known as a filibuster.
That move is expected and would require majority Democrats to muster all 60 of their votes, not a simple majority of 51, to end debate and bring a bill to a final vote.
The [House of Representatives], where the Democrats have a heftier majority and a filibuster is not possible, is considering three versions of the legislation, any one of them assured of passage and far more inclusive of an outcome sought by the White House.
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1. What did a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the health insurance industry determine to be the major problem with the Democrat’s health care bill that is being voted on in the Senate Finance Committee today?
2. What would cause increased costs to consumers, according to the Pricewaterhouse report?
3. How did the White House respond to the report?
4. Why are Republicans opposed to the Democrat’s health care bill?
5. What is the most controversial issue of the proposed health care bill?
6. Read an analysis of the Health Care bill being voted on in the Senate Finance Committee today from Libertarian think tank cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10549. What do you think of Mr. Tanner’s analysis?
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Visit the Senate Finance Committee website at finance.senate.gov.
Read an analysis of the Health Care bill being voted on in the Senate Finance Committee Oct. 13, 2009 at Libertarian think tank cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10549.