Republicans Botched Health Care First1


Both of these circumstances reduce the consumer/patient to a childlike dependent status,with little knowledge of or power over the health care decisions made on his or her behalf.That is bitterly ironic since every penny spent on health care actually comes directly from that same consumer/patient in the form of taxes,premiums,or lost wages.It is the consumer's money and the consumer's health at stake,but the consumer is the least-influential person in the transaction.Office 2007is so powerful.

If the Congressional Republicans had bothered to understand these issues,or had bothered to listen to those who do,they could have tailored their health care initiatives to make a big difference over the past 15 years.

Take HIPAA,the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.Despite its name,HIPAA does absolutely nothing to encourage portability of health insurance.Quite the opposite,in fact.It simply restricts consideration of preexisting conditions in the small group insurance market.

Under HIPAA,a person moving between jobs cannot be considered a new applicant in her new coverage if she was previously covered,so any waiting period for benefits is waived.But it is still the employer who chooses the coverage,so the worker doesn't keep her old coverage.She has to learn how to use a whole new policy,with a different network of providers,different claims-filing procedures,different benefits,and so on.

The Republicans could have written this bill to allow workers to own their coverage and take it with them from job to job.The employer's role would be to help fund the premium,not to dictate the kind of coverage the worker must have.

Similarly with SCHIP,the State Children's Health Insurance Program,enacted in 1997.SCHIP was aimed at helping children in families that were low income but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.The federal government on average pays 70 percent of the costs,and the states pay 30 percent.Though there was some state flexibility in how to set up these programs,most states simply expanded their Medicaid programs to cover the new kids.

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