October 8, 2009

And the Countdown Begins

The Senate Finance Committee's health reform bill seems to have been resuscitated with the announcement by the Congressional Budget Office yesterday that the cost of "America's Healthy Future Act," will amount to $829 billion over ten years. The bill even extends an increase in the amounts paid for ambulance services from December, 2009 until January, 2012. This may satisfy some of the EMS professionals we are working with to develop a public education and outreach strategy for FIRESTORM. I'll share more about this work soon.

Considering $2 trillion is currently spent on health care annually, and $810 billion is reportedly wasted in the system annually, $829 billion (over 10 years) seems like a paltry sum and should not be a stumbling block to passage. There are some in the Senate, however, who may be willing to try. Jonathan Cohn's blog post about Mitch McConnell's aversion to getting any legislation through gave me a chuckle, but alas, this really is no laughing matter, is it? Let's hope the Republicans seize this opportunity to rise above the politics and make health care accessible to millions more Americans.

From the NY Times: "In its analysis of the Senate Finance Committee bill, the budget office said a proposed expansion of Medicaid would add $345 billion to federal spending over the next 10 years. State Medicaid spending would rise by $33 billion, as 14 million people would be added to the Medicaid rolls. The other big federal cost would be subsidies totaling $461 billion over 10 years, to help low- and middle-income people buy insurance."

The measure is hardly ideal as it will provide insurance coverage for about 29 million of the 46 million uninsured OVER 10 YEARS.

From the CBO Director's blog: "By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 29 million, leaving about 25 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants). Under the proposal, the share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from about 83 percent currently to about 94 percent."

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill next Tuesday, October 13.