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US Health Care Bill on Verge of Passage

Posted December. 25, 2009 10:27,   


The U.S. bill on health care reform pushed for by President Barack Obama is set to win Senate approval, as his medical insurance reform drive is seen overcoming a critical hurdle.

Obama considers health care reform as one of his top policy priorities. Making all-out efforts toward that end since his inauguration, he has stepped forward in person in pushing his reform drive whenever it faces hurdles.

He has directly condemned lobbying by insurance companies, which have desperately struggled to stop health care reform, and overcome an aggressive offense by Republican Senators. He postponed his year-end vacation in Hawaii until after the Senate vote in spearheading the crusade to reform the health care system.

The U.S. has more than 54 million people lacking medical insurance. If the health care reform bill, which has been approved by the Senate, takes effect, 31 million Americans will benefit over the next 10 years.

Unlike the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the Senate bill does not include a public option (state-sponsored insurance) run by the government.

The federal government, however, is set to supervise private insurers and ensure that the public can enjoy a de facto national health insurance. The bill has also expanded the coverage of Medicaid for senior citizens to include people aged 55 or older instead of those aged 65 or older.

Some progressive members of the Democratic Party have complained since the Senate bill was a setback compared to the House bill, which sought to increase the number of people newly covered by health insurance to 36 million people.

But the Senate bill, when effectuated, calls for paying subsidies to families of four members who earn a collective annual household income of 88,200 U.S. dollars or less. Moreover, people with no insurance must pay 750 dollars per year or two percent of their annual income, whichever is larger. Hence, the bill effectively obliges all citizens to subscribe to health insurance.

The problem is money. The introduction of health insurance in line with the Senate bill will requires 871 billion dollars over the next 10 years. The adoption of the House bill, which calls for the introduction of a state-sponsored health insurance program, requires more than one trillion dollars.

For this reason, the Republicans are pressuring the Obama administration, warning that the fiscal deficit will further increase and aggravate the condition of household economies.

Though the health care reform bill has cleared the Senate, a process still remains. For one, the House and Senate must work together to consolidate their separate bills. Only after both sides formulate a unified bill and get it passed by their respective assemblies, will the bill make its way to Obama for final approval.

Since the bill cleared the filibuster vote at the Senate, which requires more than 60 percent of yes votes before winning approval, a few major hurdles will remain.

President Obama, who took over the mess of the financial crisis from predecessor George W. Bush, has faced a myriad of troubles in first year in office. Immediately after assuming the presidency, he had to pump an astronomical amount of taxpayers’ money into financial institutions to help revive the economy.

He is close, however, to succeeding in his agenda of health care reform. This is also his first policy success since his inauguration. As a result, his other reform drives are also posed to gather momentum as he enters his second year in office.