Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Public health experts debate House health plan

Policy experts say the health overhaul bill passed by the House this weekend faces lots of resistance – and many revisions – once it moves to the Senate. WHYY reports from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

Listen:

The House-approved plan requires most employers to cover their workers or pay a penalty, and Americans who can't get coverage at work will be required to buy insurance.

Dennis Andrulis leads the Center for Health Equality at Drexel University. He says some people will need more help from the government to meet that insurance mandate.

Andrulis: There are major concerns around the level of support for individuals who are at low income and moderate income. If it isn't adequate you are going to run into a lot resistance from individuals, if not revolt, outright revolt, saying: My God, how am I ever going to pay for this?

Andrulis says financial assistance in the House plan is likely adequate but he's worried those subsidies will be watered down when the bill is reconciled with a Senate plan.

Judy Feder is a public policy professor at Georgetown University. She says the House bill extends coverage to 36 million people who don't have it now. And, she say the law could change the way health care is delivered.

Feder: It puts us on a path to move away from simply rewarding doctors and other health practitioners to delivering more and more expensive care, including much that doesn't work for our benefit, to delivering better care — rewarding practitioners for prevention, for keeping us healthy.

Feder says the bill changes the rules for the health insurance industry and prohibits companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illnesses.

Feder: What Americans have been incredibly punished by is insurance company behavior, the discriminates against us when we are sick. Insurance companies currently do more to deny care than they do to cover it, this bill changes that.

The Senate is still mulling its approach to health reform. Experts say the House version is likely too costly to win approval by the Senate

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