Healthcare Bill Passed by House Fails to Deliver Real Reform
Interview with Donna Smith, a community organizer and legislative advocate with the California Nurses Association, conducted by Scott Harris
In a narrow late night victory on Nov. 7, House Democrats and one lone Republican passed a health care reform bill by a margin of 220 to 215. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi compared passage of the bill to the establishment of the Social Security Act in 1935 and the Medicare Act in 1965.
Central elements of the Affordable Health Care for America Act include a mandate for most Americans to purchase health insurance with the provision of subsidies. It prohibits insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions; caps the financial responsibility of insured individuals faced with serious illnesses and medical emergencies; and prevents insurance companies from abandoning policyholders when they get sick. The measure includes a public health insurance option that would be required to negotiate with providers, as opposed to the more cost-saving position of reimbursing providers using Medicare rates. As advertised, the bill would cover 36 million uninsured Americans at a cost of just under $900 billion over 10 years. A controversial amendment added to the bill that prohibits federal funds from being spent for abortion services within the public option and in the insurance exchange, is examined later in this program. The debate now moves to the U.S. Senate, where any health reform bill passed there must be merged with the House version.
Donna Smith is a community organizer and legislative advocate with the California Nurses Association. She and her husband were profiled in Michael Moore's documentary film "Sicko," which examined the urgent need for U.S. health care reform. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Smith about why she believes the recently passed House reform legislation falls far short of what the country needs to provide citizens with comprehensive, quality care and control skyrocketing costs.
Call the California Nurses Association at (510) 273-2200 or visit their website at www.guaranteedhealthcare.org
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