Talk of mandatory health insurance under the Republican revised health care reform bill have been largely ethereal. No one really knew exactly how the government could demand we all have coverage without providing a public option that was designed to cover all N. Americans who could not afford a plan of their own. It seemed like an impossibility. Yet, Republican in Disguise Max Baucus has not let that stop him. His proposal imposes the following fines on people failing to get insurance:
Just as auto coverage is now mandatory in most states, Baucus would a require that all Americans get health insurance once the system is overhauled. Penalties for failing to get insurance would start at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families. Households making more than three times the federal poverty level — about $66,000 for a family of four — would face the maximum fines. For families, it would be $3,800, and for individuals, $950. (Nola News)
His plan offers no way to cover 100,000-250,000 people who do not qualify for any of hi bill’s proposed coverage issues. Essentially, what Baucus, with backing from the Republicans, is proposing is that the poorest Americans pay for the health insurance of the lower middle class and the underemployed middle class while the rich continue to be covered by private plans and big pharma and insurance companies make a larger profit b/c formerly uninsured people will sacrifice other needs to avoid fines.
How much will it cost states and the nation to police who does and does not have insurance? These costs easily include:
- ppl to check on insurance status of people living in the U.S.
- court time for trials of the uninsured
- creditors to hunt down ppl not paying their fine
The plan also opens the door for continued and increased refusal of care. Whereas people could be somewhat secure that they would be seen at emergency rooms and free clinics when they could not afford insurance, there is no incentive to provide this care to desperate Americans with health needs now. Where we once gasped in horror at hospitals barely triaging the homeless and then dumping them on the street or letting people die from heart attacks or gun shot wounds b/c they were under-insured or insured at a different hospital, a plan that requires health insurance of every person will keep these cases from even reaching the hospital. Who will transport uninsured folks when insurance is mandatory? Who will offer them care in a mandatory system?
Enough is enough. If bi-partisan health care reform means that the only people benefiting are the people who got us into this mess, than there is no health care reform going on.
If we do not get a health care plan that reforms the way insurance and HMOs deny covered care to the insured, charge exorbitant fees or deny access to certain non-generic medication, ambulances, and urgent care, and keep many people from ever getting the care they need, then we are getting nothing. If we don’t get a plan that covers the people most in need but instead leaves them behind and then fines them for it, we are getting less than nothing. This is what Republicans and bipartisan negotiating is offering us right now: nothing.
My father intends to turn in his democrat registration if we don’t get health care reform. My students have already said they are unlikely to vote in the next electio, for any candidate, if we lose health care. I for one will not vote for any of the current members of Congress or the President in re-election campaigns if they pass any bill that includes fines for not being insured and excludes an option that covers people currently desperate for health care. Any plan that does not implement reforms to turn the tide against the way managed care manages to keep you from care or fines the poor and un/under/employed for being poor is criminal and it will cost both parties my vote.
Please consider writing your Representatives and the President and tell them you vote is on the line. Either we get the health care reform we were promised or the current leadership can go it alone in 2010 and 2012 regardless of the party to which they belong.