Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Senate Health Bill Provides Enormous Help To Poor

Everyone seems to be trashing the Senate's health reform bill. That's fine, dissent is good, but I don't think we should let it blind us to the positives, such as the enormous good the bill will do for the poor and middle class. (Via Jonathan Cohn at TNR.)
This bill would mean Medicaid coverage for an additional 15 million people a year, all of them living below or just above the poverty line. For a sense of scale, that's more than double the entire population now covered by the state Children's Health Insurance Program.

This bill would also subsidize coverage in the exchanges for (roughly) another 15 million people a year, the majority of whom would also qualify as low-income by any reasonable standard.
"Do the math," he says, and we'll see that this bill is "arguably, the single most progressive initiative in a generation."

And if you don't believe Cohn, he asks you to consider what his colleague Harold Pollack at the Huffington Post had to say [emphasis mine]:
Fully implemented, the bill would provide about $200 billion per year down the income scale in subsidies to poor, near-poor, and working Americans.

$200 billion is a big number. It exceeds the combined total of federal spending on Food Stamps and all nutrition assistance programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Head Start, TANF cash payments to single mothers and their children, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Institutes of Health.
That money won't be allocated to wars or tax cuts for the rich, it's going to help the poor and middle class.

Trash the bill if you want, but don't let yourself lose sight of the good it will do.

(Cross-posted at Blogging for MI.)


Kvatch said...

The provisions for regulatory oversight in the areas of spending accountability and extending coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions are also very good, but...and this is a big but...they depend on the Feds taking that oversight role seriously.

The industry will fight these provision tooth and nail.

Michael said...

Thank for your posts. On this one I could not agree more. There is a ton of good stuff in this bill. It’s a “crap shoot” but if the Democrats don’t crap out or the Republicans don’t load the dice the winner will be the “little guy” for a change.

K. said...

Thanks for pointing this out. Sometimes, I get so frustrated with all of the compromises that have been made that I lose track of the good. I still detest Joe Leiberman though!

abi said...

I hear you, Kathy. But I still can't help myself from thinking, Bah Humbug.

The Medicaid expansion is a good thing, as is more and immediate protection for kids. But the compulsory part is a bad idea. People who are living week-to-week are going to be forced to buy insurance, and will likely buy the cheapest they can get. That means they will still be liable for 40% of their bills (not to mention co-pays and deductibles). I think we're still going to be seeing bankruptcies under this plan as a result.

This is a bad road to go down. A better idea would be to implement strict regulation and keep the Medicaid expansion, but do away with the compulsory part. Honestly, I think that we're just kidding ourselves with such a system.