Health care reform: Not just on Pennsylvania Avenue, but on Main Street — MedCity Morning Read, June 10, 2009

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Health care reformWASHINGTON, D.C., and MAIN STREET, USA — Health care reform isn’t just a hot topic in the halls of our nation’s capital – it will affect most of us, young or old, sick or well, rich, poor or middle-class, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite a looming brawl, Democrats are expected to pass a bill that makes ordinary Americans the ultimate stakeholders who must live with the system, adjust to changes and — one way or another — absorb the costs, the L.A. Times said.

Laid-off autoworkers could get a guarantee that they won’t lose their family health insurance. A patient with heart disease could get more advanced treatment to avoid hospitalization. Small store owners could get help figuring out how to pay for health insurance for employees. An overweight teenager might find a new slim-down plan at school, the Times said.

And for some Americans, especially the affluent or those who get traditional health benefits from their employers, there could be new or higher taxes. Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee — one of the key committees heading health care reform — has repeated his support for taxing some employer-paid benefits to raise money for the uninsured, according to the New York Times.

After slamming the door on that idea last month, Sen. Charles Rangel, the New York Democrat who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, opened the door a crack on Tuesday, the Times said. As outlined on Tuesday, the House bill also would allow people to enroll in a government-sponsored health plan similar to Medicare, according to the Times.

Is the House bill even affordable? asks the Washington Post blog Daily Dose.

Despite months of spade work and consultation to get policy makers ready for the health care debate, the same elephant is still in the room, the Times said. There is no consensus about how large a role the government should play in the new health system, nor is there agreement on how to raise the $1.5 trillion over 10 years needed to put in play the Obama administration’s and the Democrats’ reform plans.

And while Democrats are rounding the curve on a plan, according to the New York Times, where are the Republicans? Isn’t this supposed to be a bipartisan consensus? Forbes headlines a story about the coming reform discussion this way: “No more kumbaya among health care reformers.” You can almost hear the velvet gloves coming off.

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Mary Vanac

By Mary Vanac

Mary Vanac is a co-founder of MedCity News.
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