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Miles J. Zaremski

Miles J. Zaremski

Posted: December 15, 2009 10:40 AM

The Last Hurrah to Reform Health Care

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Okay, Joe Lieberman is a despicable character and not worth a vote the next time he runs for public office. Rahm Emanuel just wants a health reform bill at any cost. Get over it and move on before it is really too late. To use a metaphor from the great American pastime, we are all in the 9th inning, with two outs, and the bases loaded. To win the "ballgame," nay, to see real health care reform come about, we need to see the following items enacted into law in no uncertain terms.

1. From the time health care reform is enacted (2010) to when it becomes effective (2013/2014), there must be a mechanism in place that will prevent insurance companies from gouging on premium increases. This writer has previously suggested placing a freeze on insurance premiums for this time period. The level to be used is 2008 or earlier, so that insurers cannot use present levels or present premium increases we are all seeing in renewals coming in our mail as a floor.

2. There must be clarity in the bill as to who/what will set premium levels once the insurance exchange is established in 2013 or 2014. This cannot be done by the private market, for then it will be like having the "fox guard the chicken coop."

3. We are all pleased to see new insurance regulations come about, like no pre-existing conditions barring coverage; like no ceiling for coverage or benefits; and like no rescission once care and treatment is provided. However, real reform dictates that such new regulations be (1) on an annual, as well as lifetime, basis (presently, there exists only a lifetime basis); and (2) that consumers not pay for these new regulations. After all, the goal of real reform is affordability, and if consumers cannot afford health care coverage now, how can they afford the new regulations?

4. Democrats keep saying 31 million of us will be covered by reform. Just who makes up these 31 million anyway? The starting point for health care reform should be roughly 80 million - - all those who are not insured by big companies (100+ employees) or who are insured or are eligible for present government programs, like Medicare.

5. Any language reflecting the Stupak amendment in the House bill must be stripped away in the Senate bill. Such present language is an anathema to every American woman who has a right to choice, and is also reflective of male chauvinism in the Senate.

6. The exemption from federal antitrust laws the insurance industry has enjoyed since 1945 must similarly be stripped away and included in any final bill.

7. Americans must be allowed cheaper prices for their pharmaceuticals, including allowing the government to negotiate reduced prices for our nation's seniors who have coverage through Medicare.

Politicians can call reform what they will, but without these seven points included, there will be no real reform, even for starters. Again, we need to remember that the insurance industry will be getting 30-40 million new customers, and that means billions in new revenues for this industry. And each American will be forced to have insurance through mandates. Thus, the question becomes, do Americans want to be forced to have insurance without effective protections as outlined in the seven points above? We are now at fail-safe for health care reform; the last hurrah so to speak. It is now "do or die."

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