By Mary Granath & Miranda Buttram Posted March 3, 2010
From the day he assumed office on January 20, 2010, President Barack Obama has been working to fulfill numerous promises he made on the campaign trail. However, the biggest, by far, is the promise of health care reform. Though this has been attempted by United States Presidents before, Obama is the closest to actually passing legislation that would make a significant difference.
Many people can not understand the complicated political terms which are used to propose the health care bill. In a poll, 33 percent of people said they believed their access to care would be worse if a health care overhaul occurred (news. yahoo).
In the Senate, this legislation is known as HR 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The House also has legislation carrying a similar name, HR 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act (www.opencongress.org). Both of these bills have passed their respective houses and now must iron out the differences in a conference committee in order to produce an identical bill for Obama to sign. In a speech given to a joint session of Congress, Obama addressed aspects of the Health Care Reform Acts that “every American needs to know.”
Obama began by stating that if you already have insurance, “nothing in the plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you already have,” this is something that many citizens have had concerns with.
Another pressing issue is that of pre-existing conditions. Indeed, the insurance companies’ attitude towards those having pre-existing conditions is one of the reasons for this health care reform. Obama said that “Under this plan, it would be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition,” and also illegal “to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it the most.”
Yet another important issue that was covered in this speech was whether or not insurance companies will cover preventative care. They “will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies,” stated Obama, reasoning that “there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse.”
The Insurance Exchange is a subject that has been somewhat controversial. Nevertheless, Obama stated that it was necessary in order for “small businesses…to shop for health insurance at competitive prices,” and also that “a not for profit public option [will be] available in the insurance exchange,” as “an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest.”
The public option is supposedly modeled after the already existing Medicare. This is supposed to offer basic coverage for American citizens. President Obama says that public option will keep private insurers honest by having to compete with the basic coverage causing the private insurers to not be able to charge unfair prices (Politifact). However, many people believe that this will be the least expensive part of the proposed health care bill (PolitiFact).
The Congressional Budget Office reports that more Americans will have private insurance after the health care reform. In addition, less than 5 percent of America will end up on a public health care plan (PBS). Some conservatives worry that employers will drop their private coverage and put their employees on the public plan (Politifact). Congress is currently discussing putting safeguards on the public option, so the public option will compete evenly with the private insurers (Politifact).