WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Senate committee began the arduous work Thursday of debating and amending the first comprehensive health care bill to come before Congress this year.
The measure before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is one of at least four expected proposals for overhauling America's ailing health care system.
At issue is how to best reduce the cost and increase the reach of the current health care system, which officials say is increasingly draining personal, corporate and government budgets while leaving 46 million Americans without health insurance.
President Barack Obama has made the issue a top priority, warning that failure to act now would bring far worse economic difficulties than the costs of plans under discussion.
Both parties in Congress agree on the need to slow the increase in health care costs while ensuring that all Americans can get health insurance, but they differ sharply on how to proceed.
Democrats generally favor a government-funded public option to compete with private insurers. Republicans say such a step would lead to a government takeover of health care, which they would oppose.
The parties agree on several principles, including an emphasis on preventive care, cost-cutting measures in the existing Medicare and Medicaid programs, and a halt to denials of coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.
While the Senate HELP Committee began its work, the Senate Finance Committee has delayed its consideration of a similar measure because of uncertainties over the overall costs.
A Congressional Budget Office preliminary analysis this week said portions of the Senate HELP committee bill it has reviewed would cost $1 trillion over the next 10 years while reducing the number of the uninsured - currently 46 million - by just 16 million.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group made up of former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, Howard Baker and Bob Dole has offered an outline for an alternative plan intended to overcome the deep party divisions.
The proposal by the Bipartisan Policy Center called for a budget-neutral plan that would include taxing some employer-provided health care benefits for workers.
The plan stopped short of an outright government-funded public health care option, but called for various forms of government assistance to help make coverage more affordable and available. It also called for requiring all Americans to have health care.
Both taxing health care benefits and the lack of a public option go against stated Democratic positions, while the mandate for individual coverage is opposed by Republicans.
The argument given for why we cannot file our taxes electronically directly with the IRS, is that the government cannot compete with private enterprise. Yet, here the government is trying to do just that, at a much greater rate.
Health care in this country is a sham. We pay more than any other country and yet we rank 37th, We've tried a full private system and guess what, it doesn't work. All I ever hear is that the government is going to come between my doctor and me. Guess what, the insurance companies already come between my doctor and me, and if I had a pre-existing condition I wouldn't have any insurance or a doctor. 50 million Americans without health care and how many more who have insurance but can't afford $140 to sit in a waiting room for an hour and then have the doctor see you for 10 minutes.
The CBO report on what various healthcare proposals will cost is disturbing– $1 trillion and reduction of only 16 million uninsured. Ben Stein said yesterday that healthcare is a right, and that he thinks the very wealthy should be willing to pay more taxes if that what it takes to get to universal coverage. My Congressman is a healthcare advocate but still wonders "how will we pay for it?"
If you like the structural organization of the DMV, Post Office, IRS, etc, then you will love how the government runs healthcare.
Let's see. Government has no incentive to control costs, they can just raise taxes. They have no incentive to control fraud, they can just raise taxes. They do not have to make a profit, they get paid with taxes. That's fair competition. I wonder how many people out there would be complaining if the government tried to compete with the business that they are in: government-run grocery stores, government-run barbers, government-run restaurants, government-run car companies. Whoops, they are doing the last one.
Excuse me Dan in NY, but how exactly did Obama destroy our economy. He inherited all these problems from Bush, he didn't create them.
I just hope that in 3 and 1/2 years from now there is still a country and hint a of a real economy that is driven from the private sector. I think Khrushchev said it best:
"We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism, until they suddenly awake to find they have Communism."
Forgetting that every single Government program is a poster child for overspending, under delivering and layer upon layer of useless bureaucrats, I am sure health care will be the one exception. Just go to a Social Security office – that's the level of service we'll get with Government so-called healthcare.
@ joey from san diego
No, not all of us voted him into office. I NEVER voted for him. He was the president of the country for 8 years and for 8 years I was sick to my stomach every time I saw his grin.
The republicans and lobbyist must not be allowed to ruin the
health care plan. I'm sure there need s to be adjustments, revisions etc but what we do not need is the our health care being dictated by big business which is, naturally, what the republicans propose. They tout the same broken methods that have gotten us into this diaster.
Without government intervention there will be no change. With republican intervention the American people will become their victims, once again.
All i have to say at this point is the next presidential election vote republicans so some you can quit complaining about President Obams policies. too much government you say well when you are in need the next time dont look to the government ,look to the republicans for help. they complain about the government healthcare but they are main ones that have the best , government healthcare but when it comes to poor and middle class its too expensive we cant afford it. SO THE NEXT ELECTION VOTE FOR THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE THEN SEE IT WIILL TAKE US.
It is not the urgency Obma is concerned about. He is afrain that people will start thinking about what he is trying to fool us into thinking he has our best interes when all the time he is fooling us into false security while he aids the governemnet into taking control of healthcare and anything els ehe can get the government invilved in, Pretty soon we will have martial law if people try to think for themselves,
first of all Dan, NY is utterly clueless, but that is a wholeother story......i am a fan of some sort of health care reform that does not extend coverage to illegal aliens.
@girlymen love the GOP –
uh...girly...he missed the fly; the media just covered for him...
I really do think this government healthcare program is an issue and it is not good for the country as a whole. The American people will have to fight against this one for sure. Don't get me wrong I am an Obama supporter but I disagree with this GOVERNMENT RUN HEATLHCARE PROGRAM...We must stop this!!!!
@ Dan, NY –
So true.....however, liberals are like 16 yr old kids....as you're about to hand them the car keys....you can tell them a million times of the dangers facing them, however, they're in disbelief and wreck anyway.
Where did we hear that before from Obama "Act immediately (without thinking) or things will get much worse..." He should sell used cars.
Sorry to say it but this isnt going to happen. There isnt any money there. A better approach in my opinion is to make sure that everyone who is eligible for Medicaid/Medicare signs up if they'd like and then focus on lowering the lawsuits and fraud. If they can lower the amount a Dr can be sued for, it will lower the Drs malpractice insurance, make the Dr more of a healer instead of a tester, which in turn would lower all of our health insurance costs. I mean an office visit costs $200 for 15 minutes in some part of the country, heck i'll tell people they have sinus infections for $800/hour.
I would like to know how much pay the ceo & top ten people get.
in healthcare & ins co.. It might cut the the 9% raise in costs
When Obama's term will be gone and done; his legacy will be the
"The Takeover President" and after all that was taken the country and in his own words changing the world. What do we think we will see?
Just one big NOTHING...and the world will be worse off...!!!
Here's a revision:
** Eliminate Health Insurance altogether
** Ban advertising for prescription drugs
** Provide for TRUE EMERGENCY care for all with tax dollars
** Provide for an annual physical exam/checkup for all with tax dollars
LET THE MARKET SET PRICING (out of pocket) FOR ALL OTHER CARE; SOMEHOW I DOUBT WE WOULD CONTINUE PAYING $150 FOR A BAND-AID FOR VERY LONG!
And to Joey from San Diego, you write as if people who didn't vote for Bush, voted for Bush. Think a little, 51% of the nation's voters didn't vote for the former cheerleader.
TCM.......Beware of loose lips......They sink ships.....Builders bragged that the Titanic was unsinkable....You may be ok now....Next year may be a different story.....Even if you're wealthy, money can't buy you love....You talk like a bitterly unloved person.......
Public Option or Single Payer are the only two plans that will gauge a successful bill.....Republicans do not a majority make...Why do they even have a seat at the table? Their new religion is NO.....Let's give Single Payer or Public Option to the supporters who voted for the President....Let the Republicans keep what we currently have in place.....It's the only solution that makes sense.....That way, both sides get what they want....To h to the e to the double l with bipartisanship......President Obama.....It's time to give bipartisanship a big high five minus four.......Tom Daschle....I thank God Sebelius is where you almost were.....You're a turncoat, sir.........Grow a spine.....
Let's see, we made a mistake it isn't 1.35 trillion it is 3.5 trillion. Remember, a trillion dollars equates to $1.00/second for 31,000 years. Regulate lawyers and insurance and you cure the problem. You can try and blame all you want on Bush, it was a democratic House and Senate that got us here. It is a Democratic president, House and Senate that will finish us off!
We need to demand TERM LIMITS NOW. It shouldn't matter what party you are from. It is the only way to stop corruption on all sides. Being a politician was never meant to be a career. We need to start making noise on this issue! Get the word out!
TCM, how come everyone makes fun of our post office? For 41 cents I can have someone come to my house and pickup/drop off some small pieces of paper or a box and send it anywhere in the US. The DMV is state run, so if your DMV stinks, it's because your state is miss-managing it. Lastly, the US military is government run. Are you suggesting our military is run poorly and would be better served if corporations took over our national defense?
The problem as I see it is insurance companies are the middle man. They need profits and they all have different ways of getting paid, approving coverage. They are basically the overhead. Why not get rid of them and go to a single payer include co-pays to keep the tax payer interested.