in sickness and in health (care)

No, I’m not talking about marriage.

Rather, I speak of two things on my mind. The first, another round of adventure courtesy of everyone’s favorite immensely overcrowded subway line, the 4. The second, my thoughts on recent revisions to the health care overhaul plan.

Today I had another early start; fought off sleep woke up around 6:45 AM. I brushed my teeth, had breakfast, and got dressed – all within 40 minutes. I felt good as I stepped out of my domain and made my way to the 4 train. ‘Twas a bit sleepy though, having attained five hours of sleep the day before. Notwithstanding, the train arrived as soon as I got to the station; I figured I’d make it downtown to my internship with plenty of time to spare.

That was almost not the case.

I found a seat, despite the moderate crowding; lucky me. Nonetheless, the ride was normal until the first express run in Manhattan; we were held outside of 86 St for several minutes due to a sick passenger at 59 St. Conductor announced that the train would go out of service at 86 St and that “all 4, 5, and 6 trains were running on the local track.” I could just imagine what the upper level of 86 St was like – probably a zoo. A short time later, we entered 86 St and the train went out of service, as announced. The platform was packed with people – and so were the staircases leading up.

Just as I was about to go upstairs, an announcement on the PA:

“Attention passengers, service has resumed!”

Thank God; my commute would’ve been a nightmare with all those crowds! Notwithstanding, I – along with hundreds (mayhap more than a thousand) passengers – re-entered the train.

Residual delays from the incident resulted in holding past 59 St, but all was well after Grand Central. Despite it all, I still made it on time!

Now, the return trip was far more pleasant; I even spotted the Low-V’s past 161 St. A pleasant sight to behold, though it would’ve been more pleasant if I got to ride them! Oh well, there’s always next time!

***

A recent article highlights significant changes made to the health care reform bill. For one, it seems the Senate trimmed the fat; the proposed cost of the legislation is $829 billion over 10 years (earlier plans had a price tag of over $1 trillion). Despite the costs, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the overhaul will cut federal deficits by $81 billion over the same time interval.

Better still, the plan retains provisions to make health care more accessible; the new plan will cover 94% of all Americans (as opposed to the 83% now covered). As part of that initiative, the legislation also includes restrictions on insurance companies; a person can neither be denied insurance due to earlier medical conditions, nor charged higher premiums based on age, gender, etc.

The benefits of the revised plan certainly sound good…so what’s the catch? Per the article:

The measure would be paid for through a variety of tax increases and spending cuts, including savings of hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, the federal health care program for seniors.

(Emphasis mine.)

“Hundreds of billions of dollars” here is over $500 billion, according to the article.

Suddenly, the plan doesn’t sound too good.

Don’t get me wrong; I know there’s probably a lot of bloat that could be cut to save money on federal health care. However, exactly what would be cut isn’t specified – and that’s what I take issue with. I certainly hope this isn’t a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul; it’d be a tragedy if more people gain coverage, only for them to get sub-par coverage due to lack of funds.

Long story short, I don’t approve of curtailing Medicare spending to fund this plan if it results in seniors getting lower quality care.

And then there’s the tax increases, which isn’t sitting well with many – even Democrats. From this article:

Under the Finance Committee bill, the tax would be imposed beginning in 2013 on employer- sponsored health plans with total premiums exceeding $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families, regardless of whether the coverage was paid for by the employer, the individual or both. The tax would be paid by insurers, who would be expected to pass along the cost to customers.

***

Employers and insurers will reduce their benefits to avoid paying the proposed tax,” said Representative Pete Stark, the California Democrat who heads the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. “As a result, middle-class families will be forced to pay more for health care.”

(Emphasis mine.)

While this looks like a tax on the wealthy, there’s concern that middle-class workers would also be hit with the tax. Isn’t that lovely? Looks like the middle class is assed out – again!

If these provisions come to pass, looks like many Americans would end up paying more – even with the restrictions on insurance premiums!

Now, there are still other proposals and provisions on the table; methinks true health care reform can still come to pass…

…provided the Obama Administration gets it done right.

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