Health care reform in the United States has a long history. However, recent legislations, concerning health care reforms, have attracted increased debate from both the democrats and the republicans. The major features of the recently proposed legislations, concerning health care reform, include increased insurance coverage of 32 million Americans (Jackson & Nolen 1). Self-employed, uninsured individuals and families will be able to purchase insurance covers at subsidized prices. Families and individuals, living below the federal poverty level, will also be allowed to purchase insurance covers at subsidized costs. Medicaid services will also be extended to families, whose annual income are less or equal $29,327. The total cost of the proposed health care reform is $940 billion over a period of ten years (the entire period for implementation of the reform) (Jackson & Nolen 5). While the democrats, the major supporters of the current health care bills, are optimistic about the reform, the republicans are pessimistic about the reform and view it as a financial burden to the taxpayers.
Arguments for Health Care Reform (The Democrats’ Opinions)
In the mid-2009, democrats presented a revised version of the health care reform. The revised health care reform proposed that a government-funded health care insurance should be available to all Americans. The main source of the government-funded insurance cover would be taxes from wealthy Americans. Democrats said that the reform met all the requirements that President Obama had identified for the health care reform. These requirements include low costs to consumers and businesses, abolishing denial to insurance coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions, and allowing individuals to keep their existing health insurance plans if they deemed so (House Democrats Unveil Health Care Reform Plan 2009).
The proposed health care reform is the best way to fix the broken American health care system. In fact, the greatest advantage with the proposed health care reform is that it will allow all Americans to access quality health care, regardless of their social and financial status. In the support of the reform, President Obama cites sad stories of patients, denied insurance coverage because of their financial status, Americans with pre-existing medical conditions, whose lives depend on insurance coverage, and families, which have been financially ruined because of one illness, despite having an insurance cover (House Democrats Unveil Health Care Reform Plan 2009). He says that the new health care reform proposal will protect Americans from the unscrupulous practices of the insurance industry. According to President Obama, a democrat, “… by emphasizing prevention and wellness, it will also help improve the quality of health care for every American” (House Democrats Unveil Health Care Reform Plan 2009).
The new healthcare reform will allow small businesses, poor families, unemployed, and uninsured individuals to select affordable health insurance covers in a competitive market. If nothing is done, regarding the current health insurance practices, insurance premiums will continue to increase, making it unaffordable to the unemployed, poor, and uninsured individuals. Likewise, small business owners will not be able to provide coverage to their employees. This means that many Americans will continue to lose their health care, a thing, which will contribute to increased health care deficit. Recent report from the Congressional Budget Office indicates that the new health care reform will reduce the current health care deficit by $143 billion within the ten years and $1.2 trillion within the second ten years (Jackson & Nolen 6). This implies that many Americans will gain access to cheap but quality health care.
According to Henry Waxman, a democrat from California, the current health care system in the United States is dysfunctional (House Democrats Unveil Health Care Reform Plan 2009). He states that currently, 46 million Americans do not have health insurance. This is because the current health care system does not provide incentives to poor individuals and families, which enable them to purchase health insurance covers. Waxman adds that despite the big gap, the current health care system continues to drain the American economy. He, therefore, argues that there is no need of a health care system, which drains the taxpayers’ money, yet it does not satisfy their health care needs. He says that the proposed health care reform will “accomplish what many people felt wouldn’t happen in their lifetime” (House Democrats Unveil Health Care Reform Plan 2009).
In addition, the democrats argue that the benefits of the revised health care reforms overweight the cost that the federal government will incur in implementing the reform. They state that the new health care reform will enable collection of tax revenue worth over $500 million from wealthy American within a period of 10 years. It will also allow implementation of cost-saving measures in the health care system, worth $500 million over 10 years. A combination of the potential benefits of the proposed health care reform overweighs the estimated cost of approximately $1 trillion in ten years.
Arguments against Health Care Reform (The Republicans’ Opinions)
The republicans acknowledge that the current health care system in the US has serious problems (Grassley 1). It is true that many American, especially the unemployed individuals, individuals working for small employers, and families, living under the federal poverty level, are uninsured. The weak state of the U.S. economy is creating fear for possible loss of insurance covers by many Americans. In addition, many private health care institutions are in the verge of closing their doors because of “high malpractice insurance costs and low government reimbursement rates” (Grassley 1). However, the republicans are of the opinion that the proposed health care reform will only accelerate the problems as opposed to the democrats’ view that the reform will alleviate the problems.
It is clear that the proposed health care reform will drive Americans towards an increasingly controlled health care system. This is because the proposed health care reform will enforce “an unprecedented federal mandate for coverage backed by the enforcement authority of the Internal Revenue Service” (Grassley 2). This implies that the federal government will have excess control over health insurance coverage and collection of taxes from health insurance service providers. Besides, the republicans argue that the new health care reform will give the secretary of the US Department of Human and Health Services unlimited powers to define and redefine benefits for all private insurance plans. They are of the opinion that the reform will create more bureaucracies in the health care system, thus, increasing government’s control in the system. They cite increased government control in health care system amounts to lose of people’s power over their lives (Grassley 3).
The republicans also argue that the proposed health care reform does not solve the major problems, which are present in the current health care system. According to republicans, the proposed health care reform will not achieve significant cost reductions as claimed. Instead, the proposed reform will cause health care bills to increase. This is because scores of people will be forced to pay insurance premiums. This will have a big financial implication to the young and healthy individuals as well as the poor (Grassley 4). Furthermore, they argue that the proposed reform will enforce new fees and taxes to the consumers. They support this argument by stating that with over $1 trillion expenditure within 10 years, the federal government will have to increase the amount of fees and taxes, levied from the Americans. The government will achieve this by increasing insurance premium rates and income taxes on various kinds of incomes. Then, after increasing the premium fees, the government will enforce a law that will make it mandatory for every individual to purchase a health insurance plan (Grassley 5).
The proposed changes in Medicare program will reduce the access of the program’s healthcare services. High premiums have been imposed on senior citizens and the disabled for prescription-drug coverage (Grassley 6). High premiums will limit access of Medicare services. In addition, republicans say that the proposed health care reform proposes creation of a permanent Medicare Commission, which will have unlimited authority to make amendments in Medicare program as they deem appropriate. “The damages that this group of unelected people could do to Medicare are unknown…” (Grassley 6).
Early in the year 2010, the republicans proposed formation of less ambitious health care reform. By less ambitious, the republicans wanted legislation of health care bills, which will have smaller price tags and no tax implications to the taxpayers (Smith & Dunham 2010). Some of the proposals, made by the republicans, included allowing health insurance service providers to sell insurance covers across states. This proposal was to abolish the current regulation, where health insurance service providers are not allowed to sell covers across states, thus, removing the restriction of having to purchase expensive plans due to lack of alternatives. The republicans also proposed legislation of a law that will bar insurers from excluding people with existing conditions from getting insurance plans (Smith & Dunham 2010).
It is clear that the debate over the proposed health care reform between the democrats and the republicans is yet to end. The current health care system is very problematic. With the proposed health care reform being in place, many of the current health care problems are likely to be solved. The proposed health care reform will enable many Americans to gain access to health care at a low cost. However, the reform is likely to cause additional tax burden to the American taxpayers. In my opinion, the republicans and the democrats should come together, and identify the most economical health care reform, instead of trying to use their political supremacy to outdo each other in the legislation of the proposed health care reform.