House Passes Health Care Reform - 219 to 212 Vote

Tonight, the House of Representatives voted 219 to 212 to pass health care reform. The bill, which has caused deep rifts across the political spectrum is the most sweeping and influential piece of legislation in years and will impact over 16% of the economy.

So now we'll get a chance to see who was really right about health care reform. Will the bill result in increased coverage, better long term results, and cost containment, as the Dems allege? Or will it result in less choice, declining health care, more government control, and ballooning budget deficits as the Republicans argue?

Personally, I believe the experience of other nations shows that health care reform will provide more benefits than negatives. Americans are already grossly unhealthy and our current health care system works well in exceptional cases but not on a day-to-day basis. It's also incredibly expensive and unsustainable.

Do I think the current plan is perfect? No. Until there is transparency in health care it is hard to imagine real cost containment. How much does a Dr's visit cost? What does one hospital charge for a precedure versus another hospital? Until consumers are forced to take more responsbility for their procedures and understand the costs, it will be difficult to significantly rein in spending.  Maybe I'm being naive in hoping consumer-driven healthcare is still a possibility.

So what can we now expect. In the next year, the following will happen:

  • Insurance comanies will be unable to discontinue coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Young people will be able to stay on their parents coverage until they are 26.
  • Small businesses will receive tax credits to help extend coverage to their employees.

Many of the other provisions do not take effect for 2-3 years, including the main provisions that will extend coverage to 30mm uninsured. That's plenty of time to continue the debate and refine the program.

Sam Cass
Sam Cass: Sam Cass, MBA, JD, University of Texas at Austin. Always a fan of Leonardo Da Vinci.

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