|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
As Democrats prepare to take up health care legislation on the floor of the Senate and the House, they are facing tough choices about two competing priorities. They want people to pay affordable prices for health insurance policies, but they want those policies to offer comprehensive health benefits.
These goals collide in the bills moving through Congress. The different versions of the legislation would all require insurance companies to provide coverage more generous than many policies sold in the individual market today. That is good for consumers, Democrats say.
But Republicans say the new requirements would mean added costs for some consumers and for the government, which would help pay premiums for millions of low- and middle-income people.
That tension between keeping costs low and improving coverage is just one of many challenges facing Congress and the Obama administration as they head toward the final stages of the effort to pass health care legislation.
Under the legislation, the government would not only require insurers to accept all applicants. It would also define the acceptable levels of coverage.
Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, said the federal government had to specify coverage levels because the benefits under many existing insurance policies were inadequate.
“We have more than 46 million people who are uninsured,” Mr. Bingaman said. “We also have a substantial number who are underinsured. Although they have coverage, it is so bad or so inadequate that if they really get sick, they find they cannot afford the health care they need.”
But the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, Jon Kyl of Arizona, said it was “an act of hubris” for Congress to prescribe the permissible coverage.
“For the life of me,” Mr. Kyl said, “I don’t see why Washington has to dictate what kind of insurance you get to buy. Why not let the consumer decide?”
Labels: health care