Reform Primers From Both Sides Of The Pond
The BBC offers a trans-Atlantic primer on American health reform: "Unlike other developed countries, the US does not have a universal system of healthcare coverage," the report explains. Though Obama made health reform his "top priority," members of Congress are "finding it difficult to agree on a bill." The lawmakers must address the plights of 46.3 million uninsured Americans "a meaningful figure to cite," according to reform advocates, the BBC says, because many of those residents would benefit from health reform. Lawmakers are also trying to address health care costs that "are rising dramatically."
Bills in Congress all: "favour (sic) tougher regulations for insurers;" "establish an individual mandate;" "set up insurance exchanges for those who do not have employer-provided coverage;" "offer subsidies for the less well-off (although the exact size of the subsidies varies from committee to committee);" and "pay for most of the reforms by cutting waste in the Medicare programme (sic)."
"With so much of his political capital now resting on passage of a bill, Obama and his team will be lobbying hard to get a bill passed this year, and may be prepared to make some compromises along the way," the primer concludes. "Whether or not the final bill pleases healthcare reform advocates, therefore, remains to be seen" (10/13).
Meanwhile, The Associated Press examines all five of the bills in Congress and evaluates where each stands after the Senate Finance Committee's Tuesday vote.
The AP compares the Senate Finance and HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committees' bills as well as the House bill, the Republican outline for health reform and President Obama's proposal. For each bill, the AP details who would be covered, the cost, how it's paid for, the requirements on individuals and employers to buy or provide coverage, subsidies, benefits packages, insurance industry regulations, the inclusion of a public plan, how residents would choose their coverage and changes to government-run programs like Medicaid and Medicare (Alonso-Zaldivar and Werner, 10/14).
The AP also has a breakdown of "what happens next" in the Senate, the House, the White House and with lobbying groups. (Werner and Hirschfeld Davis, 10/13).
Bloomberg also has a primer that details the common ground shared by the five House and Senate committees. The plans share individual mandates, efforts to expand coverage, new requirements on insurers, proposals to reduce costs, broad protections for manufacturers of biologic drugs, and provisions commitments to pare the deficit.
They differ, however, on the so-called public option, whether to include an employer mandate, and how, exactly, to pay for the overhaul. Leaders in both chambers will consolidate their committee bills before they reach the chamber floors. "If measures pass both chambers, the House and Senate would work together to fashion a compromise for another round of votes" (Jensen and Gaouette, 10/13).