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How the health care bill affects you

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dear Nebraskans,

Last Sunday night, the House of Representatives passed an overhaul of our health care system. In a series of late-night votes, the House approved the Senate legislation that passed in the upper chamber last Christmas Eve. As I write, the President is announcing plans to sign this bill into law this week. The House also passed a new bill -- known as a reconciliation bill -- to change the Senate bill after it becomes law. The reconciliation bill must now be considered in the Senate, where it will be fiercely contested, but unfortunately will likely pass. What does this new law mean for you? Let's strip the budget gimmicks and jargon so you know how it will affect you.

For starters, the bill takes away your freedom to choose whether to buy health insurance. Currently, many Americans, including young people in good health, simply choose not to buy health insurance. Beginning in 2015, this legislation will eliminate that choice and require that you buy government-approved insurance or pay a fine. Many states across the country are already threatening to challenge the new law's constitutionality.

The reconciliation bill would additionally raise taxes on businesses and individuals. It may be politically popular to increase taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 annually, but what is almost always left unsaid is that many of these individuals are small business owners. They depend on profit to reinvest in their businesses to compete with larger ones. Medicare taxes will increase starting in 2013. Taxes on pharmaceuticals and medical devices, all of which are set to go into effect from 2011-14, are projected to simply be passed on to individuals in the form of higher prices.

Medicare Advantage continues to get cut. The bill on the President's desk cuts billions of dollars from Medicare Advantage; the House reconciliation bill cuts even more. Home health, skilled nursing facilities, and hospice services will also see funding cuts beginning next year. I've met with these organizations throughout the past year and their message is clear: this will lead to a decrease in services and fewer health care providers accepting Medicare patients.

Perhaps worst of all, reform that was in part supposed to lower our health care costs will actually increase them. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says health insurance premiums will actually increase in the individual market more than if we passed no legislation at all. President Obama's own health care experts concluded the Senate bill bends the cost curve up, not down. Yet, the President will sign it into law this week. These costs and premium increases will start in the next few years, while we won't see the majority of the benefits for at least another four years.

My Republican colleagues and I plan on opposing this reconciliation bill until the final vote is cast, because it will only make a bad law worse. Unfortunately, Democrats appear set on circumventing standard Senate procedure by limiting debate and lowering the number of votes required to pass the bill. Nebraskans deserve better.

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So now we have a choice. Those of us that don"t qualify for welfare either feed our family pay our bills and get fined or we buy health insurance let our kids starve and our fincancial responsibilities go. I guess we could just quit our jobs and live off the government. I wonder how much of a pay increase that would be?

-- Posted by outsidethebox on Tue, Mar 23, 2010, at 9:43 AM

The goal of liberalism is to do just that.

-- Posted by hankherndon on Tue, Mar 23, 2010, at 10:44 AM

outside the people you are describing are the ones that may very well benefit the most. Take a little time and research what is actually in the law.

-- Posted by Meshedup on Tue, Mar 23, 2010, at 4:50 PM

The bill takes away our freedom to choose. Hmm...In 2015, legislation will eliminate the choice and you will have to buy government approved insurance or pay a fine. This really doesn't add up.

Socialism at it's finest. Right, commrade??

-- Posted by edbru on Tue, Mar 23, 2010, at 10:14 PM

Hopefully this will not survive a court challenge. Making Americans buy a product any product is unprecedented and if the court oks it will open a huge can of worms. WHat will be next? No more eating beef you must buy chicken because the gubment now has to payn your healthcare bils.

-- Posted by Chaco1 on Wed, Mar 24, 2010, at 8:48 AM

I find it interesting that everyone has an opinion on health care reform but few seem to reveal if they have health insurance or not...if so who pays for it, if not who do they expect to pay if they or their children become desperately ill? We just went from 80% employer paid health insurance premiums to 100% we pay the premium. Consequently we went from paying very little to writing a check for $ 1300.00 a month for two people. If we had eligible dependants at home under the age of 18, they would cost an addition $ 358.00 a month for each dependant. One might question spending that much for insurance, but we have had a catastrophic illness in our family and believe two things to be true: 1) The treatment for this illness would not have been as agressively pursued had we not had an insurance card to hand to the various hospitals & doctors involved and therefore 2) that person would have died had it not been for the agressive treatment. Everyday you see requests for contributions from people who are uninsured or underinsured for help with treatments, rehabilitation, etc. Everyday you see people being denied life saving care unless they can raise enough money to pay for it. At what point do you raise the question of what country we live in that getting to have health care is a matter of how much money you have? Yes, most states have care available for children, the elderly & the very poorest of our people, but what about those who fall through the cracks? At some point this issue must not be a political one but rather a one of responsibility. We have a personal responsibility to provide the very best coverage possible for our family and we have a national responsibility to make that coverage available to everyone...and those that do not want to participate should pay a penalty because few if any go through life without some sickness.

-- Posted by McCook Muse on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 2:48 PM

I can sympathise with your plight Muse but do you think you will be paying less under this bill? Will it really help your situation? if so how?

-- Posted by Chaco1 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:57 AM

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Sen. Mike Johanns
Sen. Mike Johanns
U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns is a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Nebraska governor and Lincoln mayor.

Address: 404 Russell, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4224
Fax: (202) 228-0436

You may contact Senator Johanns by emailing mike_johanns@johanns.senate.gov. If you would like to receive a response from Senator Johanns, please ensure you include your name, full address, and phone number.