More on the health care bill

First, this morning, President Obama signed the health care bill into law. Here’s the video of his pre-signing address:

And on to the links and information. I’ve been saturating Facebook with links because there’s a lot to know and get informed on–anything as substantial as health care reform is going to be complicated. Here’s a mini-compendium of links from the last day or so:

We’ll finish with a couple quotes. First, from James Fallows, writing in The Atlantic:

For now, the significance of the vote is moving the United States FROM a system in which people can assume they will have health coverage IF they are old enough (Medicare), poor enough (Medicaid), fortunate enough (working for an employer that offers coverage, or able themselves to bear expenses), or in some other way specially positioned (veterans; elected officials)… TOWARD a system in which people can assume they will have health-care coverage. Period.

And second, thanks from President Obama to all of you–to all of us–who kept the faith:

It is because of you that we did not quit.  It’s because of you that Congress did not quit.  It’s because of you that I did not quit.  It’s because of you.

House passes health care bill

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the health care reform bill (H.R. 3962) with two votes to spare (220-215), with 39 Democrats voting against and Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao the lone Republican to vote for the bill. Here’s the final roll call.

This came in spite of some appalling behavior by some unruly Republicans, who refused to let the Democratic Women’s Caucus speak, even shouting them down at points.

A little more about the bill (thanks to the Congressional Budget Office and PICO Network):

  • It extends coverage to 36 million people who would otherwise be uninsured, achieving 96 percent coverage among non-elderly adults who are legal U.S. residents. In comparison, the Senate Finance version (proposed by Sen. Max Baucus) would cover only 29 million.
  • It also does much better than the Senate Finance version at setting premiums and out-of-pocket costs at levels that families–especially families at the lowest income levels–can actually afford.
  • According to CBO estimates, it would actually reduce the federal deficit by $104 billion over ten years.
  • It’s paid for by a 5.4% surtax on high-income individuals earning more than $500k annually for individuals and $1 million per year for families. Other savings will (hopefully!) come from making Medicare more efficient and requiring employers with payrolls above $500k to either provide coverage or pay a penalty.
  • It provides a public option in the health insurance exchange in order to control health care costs.

However …

  • The bill fails to eliminate the five year waiting period in Medicaid for documented immigrants, as was done with the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • Many of the bill’s provisions don’t take effect until 2013, which is much longer than most of us would want or expect.

It’s not perfect. But it’s certainly stronger than the Senate Finance version with which the House bill will need to be merged, assuming Harry Reid can corral 60 votes in the Senate.

And it’s a start. Now let’s keep the ball rolling.