Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Bill - Disappointing But Still Hopeful

Many of you know that I am a supporter of President Obama and the hopefullness behind his "Change You Can Believe In" campaign. However, as we near 24 hours past the historic health care bill that just passed I can't help but feel disappointed.

During his campaign trail, Barack Obama promised to make universal health care a top priority. And he did, sort of. The problem was he had this silly notion about bipartisanship and bringing the country together but ran into a Party of No roadblock.

According to some, there were plans for a universal health care system, similar to Canada, France, England, etc, which is fully comprehensive health care coverage for all citizens. Why was this not done? The Obama Administration was fearful that the GOP would accuse them of a government takeover of the health care industry and leading the country into Socialism.

So they presented this watered down bill hoping to show compromise to their political counterparts who dug in their heels and wished to get 100% of what they wanted or remain at the status quo rather than compromise. I do find it funny that the Repubs cried mightily about the excessive pages of the health care bill, as if one could transform an industry as vast and far-reaching as 1/6th of our economy with a few mere sentences.

Oh wait...that's exactly what they thought. Here is a highly confidential Republican cure all solution to health care reform. Addressed to Rupert Murdoch from the Health Care Industry:

"We the people of the Republican Party, in order to solve the health care woes of the nation, present Bill #outoftouchwithreality.
"Item 1: Open competition with state border limitations.
"Item 2: TORT reform.
"Item 3: Insert the God of Christianity into government. Have faith and pray. Also ensure that our taxes will not pay for anything contrary to our interpretation of Christian morals...except for the things that will get us crazy paid from lobbyists.
"Problem solved. You're welcome America."

But I digress, Obama pandered to this bipartisan mindset and gave up his most prime opportunity to bring the greatest nation in the world up to par with other rich, civilized nations that have all decided that health care is a right and that government has a vested interest into the health and wellbeing of it's citizenry.

I am disappointed that the entire program was not overhauled and scraped. I envisioned an Extreme Health Care Makeover that Ty Pennington would supervise and announce to America with all of the pimped out features. Maybe the day will come when any citizen can simply walk into the local urgent care facility, show their state issued identification card and receive the medical care they need without first having to fill out 15 pages of documentation to demonstrate how you intend to pay for the bill.

All of my disappointment aside, I am happy that we are moving forward as a nation on this. Regardless of how I wanted the actual campaign promise of universal health care for all citizens, I do recognize that this is a step (albeit a small baby step) in the right direction. We stand together in our responsibility towards one another. It is a positive step forward for America and makes us better human beings.

For those who enjoy half truths and propaganda, please visit HERE.
For those of you who actually care about facts, here they are:

1. Republicans: No Republicans voted for the bill
2. Democrats: 34 Democrats voted against the measure
Source: Health care reform: How House members voted –

3. 32 Million: The estimated number of currently uninsured Americans who will receive coverage under the bill
4. $940 billion: The estimated cost of health care reform over the next 10 years
5. $143 billion: The estimated reduction in the deficit from the bill over the next 10 years
6. $53 billion: The portion of the $143 billion in deficit reduction that comes from social security payroll taxes that eventually will be paid out in the form of retirement benefits.
7. $70 billion: The portion of the $143 billion in deficit reduction that comes from premiums to be collected as part of a new government-run, long-term care program for the elderly. These premiums eventually will be paid out in the form of benefits.
8. $88,000: New health insurance subsidies would be provided to families of four making up to $88,000 annually, or 400 percent of the federal poverty level
9. Pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
10. Age 26: Insurers would be required to provide coverage for non-dependent children up to age 26
11. Doughnut Hole: Under current law, Medicare stops covering drug costs after a plan and beneficiary have spent more than $2,830 on prescription drugs. It starts paying again after an individual’s out-of-pocket expenses exceed $4,550. Called the doughnut hole, it will be closed by 2020.
12. 40% Tax: A 40 percent tax would be imposed on insurance companies providing “Cadillac” health plans valued at more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax would kick in starting in 2018.
13. 3.8% Medicare Tax: A 3.8% surcharge would be imposed on investment income for individuals making over $200,000 and couples making over $250,000. This tax increase is estimated to bring in $210 billion between 2013 and 2019.
14. $695 or 2.5%: The potential amount of a fine if you fail to purchase health care insurance. Starting in 2016, Individuals would be required to purchase coverage or face a fine of up to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. The plan includes a hardship exemption for poorer Americans.
15. 50 employees: Companies with more than 50 employees would be required to pay a fee of $2,000 per worker if the company does not provide coverage and any of that company’s workers receives federal health care subsidies. The first 30 workers would be subtracted from the payment calculation.
(source: Highlights of health care compromise bill –

16. Abortion: In a deal with conservative Democrats, President Obama will sign an Executive Order “that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.” The order can be rescinded by President Obama or any future president at any time, for any reason.
(sources: Obama Executive Order on Abortion Funding, What health care reform means for your small business – CNN Money, Checking the Math on Health Care –

17. 0.9%: Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) tax rate would be increased by 0.9 percent, to 2.35 percent.
18. $16 billion: The amount drug manufacturers would pay the US between 2011 and 2019.
19. $47 billion: Health insurers would pay $47 billion over the same period.
20. 2.9% excise tax: Medical device manufacturers would pay a 2.9 percent excise tax on the sale of any of their products beginning January 1, 2013.
21. Tanning Tax: Health care reform establishes a tax of 10 percent on indoor tanning services. This would raise $2.7 billion between 2010 and 2019. As far as we know, getting a tan outside is still free.
22. $132 billion: Government payments to Medicare Advantage would be reduced by $132 billion over 10 years.
(source: Health care reform bill 101: Who will pay for reform? / The Christian Science Monitor –

23. Flexible Spending Accounts: The maximum amount you can set aside pre-tax for health care costs in a flexible spending account will be reduced from $5,000 to $2,500. (source: Obamacare wins: Now the pain begins)

24. 46%: The percentage of Americans in favor of health care reform, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll.
25. 45%: The percentage of Americans against the bill according to the same poll.
26. 36%: The percentage of Americans who think the bill is a “good idea,” according to the same poll.
(source: American Public Divided On Health Care Reform (POLL))


Natalie said...

Excellent, well written and factual. Great insight to a problem we all see needs to be fixed.
You are being featured on our FB page! Happy Blogging!

Chris said...

Yes, Very well written.

The $695 or 2.5% fine is the one kicker that many say goes against all that the constitution stands for. Taxes on the other hand are not unconstitutional. We will have to see how this impacts each of us individually, and company wide in this economy. Could shut down or hurt some of the medium sized companies...

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T.J. Shelby said...

Well, Chris when Republican Mitt Romney implemented the very same penalty/consequence as Governor in one questioned the Constitutionality of it.

Last I heard there were about 11 Republican State Attorney Generals ready to jointly file suit to question the legality of it. I suppose we will find out in the next few months.

Nicole Shelby said...

Excellent. Rational. Informative.

I concur with your opinion of the compromises instead of sweep-the-board Universal Health Care...

Question: you didn't address the Preventive Care aspect. What does that include?

Sarah said...

23. Flexible Spending Accounts: The maximum amount you can set aside pre-tax for health care costs in a flexible spending account will be reduced from $5,000 to $2,500. (source: Obamacare wins: Now the pain begins)

What SUCKS! I love my HSA account. We currently contribute $5,000 per year. This alone accounts for a TAX INCREASE for me. I have three kids who will still need braces. Is that covered in this health plan?

T.J. Shelby said...

Nicole, I don't know. Sarah, I agree and don't understand their logic behind it. It only hurts those who were taking advantage of it. We weren't doing the full 5000 but probably 1/2 and were thinking about increasing it...too late now.

T.J. Shelby said...

Chris, unless a company has under 25 employees, no tax credits will go into effect until 2014.

And there really was no cost caps in the bill so who knows what will happen in 2014...until then expect more of the same - 25-40% annual increases in health care.

Anonymous said...

Dependents covered to the age of why on Earth would we want to do that?? They don't have to be full-time students. So basically we're forcing companies to cover deadbeat sons that moms are too afraid to kick out or tell to GET A JOB OR GO TO SCHOOL!! Sorry, I disagree with the healthcare reform bill almost completely! And univeral healthcare, now that's just scary!