Senate health care reform bill isn't good enough

December 18, 2009

There isn't enough good in the present form of the Senate health care bill.

It adds millions of premium-paying people to health insurance companies' income without increasing competition or mandating significant cost containment. I used to say the present system, generating an average 10 percent annual increase in premium costs, was unsustainable. Well, this current bill makes that prospect much worse.

The Senate couldn't even agree to lower the age of eligibility for Medicare to 55.

That age-lowering provision would have added millions of younger and therefore healthier people to Medicare. Those younger, healthier people would be paying their way with their premiums into Medicare, requiring fewer services and thus helping the solvency of Medicare. That provision would add competition for the insurance industry. That provision wouldn't cost the taxpayer one dime. That provision would not add a new government bureaucracy. That provision would allow millions of people currently insured through auto industries' legacy health care programs the option of choosing this Medicare plan. Those legacy costs have helped to sink our auto industry. Finally, it makes the abortion issue moot. Not too many pregnant 55-year-old women.

They couldn't agree to do this. Why? The health insurance companies are the only constituency hurt by this.Mel Mintz, Pikesville

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