Well, here it is in all its glory: H.R. 3962 All 1990 pages.
So, what horrific evils does it unleash? Just scrolling down the table of contents reveals a great deal of the horrible abyss into which the bill would plunge our fragile nation. Here are the blood-curdlingly evil "reforms" the bill would enact:
- Guaranteed access to affordable coverage.
- Guaranteed access to essential benefits.
- Creates a temporary national high-risk pool program.
- Ends health insurance recission abuse.
- Ends price gouging by health insurers.
- Extends dependent coverage for young adults.
- Limits and then prohibits exclusion for pre-existing conditions.
- Prohibits treating domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.
- Ends denial and delay of treatment for babies with birth defects.
- Eliminates lifetime limits on benefits.
- Increased grants to Wellness programs.
- Extension of COBRA.
- Protects choice to keep current coverage.
- Requires all health care plans to meet minimum standards for benefits.
- Requires additional, national consumer protections.
- Prohibits discrimination in heatlh care.
- Provides whistleblower protections.
- Creates a National Health Insurance Exchange.
- Creates a premium-funded, "no bailout", negotiated rates, voluntary enrollment Public Health Insurance Option.
- Institutes an Individual Affordability Credit program available only to U.S. citizens and legal residents.
et cetera, et cetera
Thank goodness that Dennis Kucinich, et al., at least tried to protect the American public from this terrible legislation! But, what about that fine on persons who fail to purchase health insurance? Well, it does exist in a form. Title V of H.R. 3962 adds a section to the Internal Revenue Code that imposes a 2.5% income tax, capped at the average basic plan premium, for those persons who fail to purchase a qualifying health benefit plan subject to a number of limitations and exemptions. Employer-provided insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, etc., all qualify to avoid the tax. As for not being able to afford the basic plan, the affordability credit program subsidizes a large portion of the premiums of persons earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level. The bill caps the tax at the average premium of an exchange-offered basic plan, so that the amount of premium anyone would pay--using affordability pcredits--is necessarily lower, maybe much lower, than the tax. The idea that the poor who cannot afford health insurance will be fined fails to account for the affordability credits.
So the issue is whether a minimal individual mandate is so onerous a burden that it outweighs the myriad positive effects of the bill, not to mention that fact that people clearly unable to afford health insurance now will have the means to purchase basic coverage, with a minimum package of guaranteed benefits? I think the answer is pretty clearly on the side of reform, and Dennis Kucinich, Eric Massa and the other naysayers are clearly on the wrong side of history.
*Note: for those who want to actually look it up, the affordability credit program text begins at page 225 of the bill, and the individual responsibility portion begins at page 296. Have fun . . .