The conceptual dust and confusion that surrounds the issue of health care reform at the moment is exceeded only by the emotion the issue generates. So it seems like a good time to examine the issue – first, what's being considered.
There is currently no final here. But that text may change before it reaches the floor of the House. The Senate looks set to produce two competing bills from different committees. The House and the Senate will both have to produce drafts for a vote. If they pass, the house bill and the Senate bill will have to be reconciled in a joint House-Senate Conference Committee. and then there will be a final bill to vote on. Laws and sausages…in either the House or the Senate to discuss. You can find the text of the House Bill currently working its way through committees, H.R. 3200 (America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009)
It's probably important to clear up what's not on the table:
- We're not turning into Canada. I hear the comparison a lot. Canada has a single-payer system where the government pays people's medical bills. The Obama Administration has said pretty clearly that it will not sign a single-payer law (even though liberal groups like The Progressive Democrats of America wanted exactly that). A single-payer system is not on the table.
- We're not talking about creating a system of free health care. We have that already: it's called Medicaid. Most of the people in America without health insurance make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but can't afford health insurance. The current reform effort is focused on making health insurance more affordable, and then makig people buy it (like we already make them buy auto insurance if they own a car). We are not talking about free health care.
- We are not talking about socialized medicine: a system in which the government operates health care facilities and employs health care professionals. We have that already for veterans and members of the Armed Forces (and their families). But no one is suggesting that we expand that to include the general public. So we are not talking about socialized medicine.
Sometime soon we'll take a look at the issues that are on the table – and how they might impact the business world.