Thursday, November 12, 2009

Health Care Reform

Why is that the United States spends more money on health care than every country in the world, yet ranks 37th in overall health coverage? How much money will it cost to provide health insurance for approximately 320 million Americans? The Democrats’ proposed health bill, Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962), costs $1.2 trillion and pales in comparison to the already $12 trillion amassed in national debt.

Even though it has been over a year since Obama was elected President, partisan beliefs still keep the White House divided. The GOP and several Democrats recently battled over passage of the Democratic sponsored health bill in the House which passed by a narrow margin of only two votes. The proposed bill proved to be extremely partisan, with only one Republican, Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana, voting for passage of the bill.

While supporters are eager to move along into the Senate, opposition forces will attempt to filibuster the proposed health bill. It is difficult to discern the real reason why most Republicans are so vehemently opposed to the bill. One can only assume that the GOP is deliberately obstructing passage of the bill to prevent a Democratic 'victory'. Nonetheless, those in favor of the bill are pushing for action and seek to have the Act signed into law before the year’s end.

One reason that the bill was met with opposition in the House was due to the overwhelming cost that will be forced upon American taxpayers. According to Congressman Burton (R-IN), a naysayer for the proposed health bill, the outcome of passing this bill will increase taxes by about $730 billion over the next ten years. Understandably, many Americans were alarmed by the immediate impact of tax increases amidst a deteriorating economy.

In addition, the Stupak/Pitts amendment, named after Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joseph R. Pitts (R-PN), raised controversy over the issue of abortion. The amendment prevents government funding from covering abortion under the proposed health coverage. In addition, President Obama maintained that federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions. But before the President can sign anything into law the planned health care overhaul must overcome many obstacles.

Overall, the fate of health insurance in the U.S. is yet to be determined as opponents of the proposed bill seek to halt its progress through delayed legislative proceedings and extended speech making, subsequently drawing out the process of passing the bill along to the Senate. Having barely eked out of the House with the minimum required number of votes, the proposed bill faces an even more hostile crowd in the Senate where the approach to health care reform differs from that of Congress. Many analysts predict the bill to fail once it reaches the Senate because the Democrats do not hold as much swaying power there as they do in the House. The bill may succeed in the Senate, but not before undergoing amendments. As a result, the House and Senate will need to convene thereafter in order to compromise over a unified bill for President Obama to sign into a law.


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