Health Care Bills Debated
GLORIA PENNER: The health care debate in Washington D.C. Democrats in the House and Senate are working on separate bills to overhaul the nation's health care system. Both the House and Senate bills contain a government-run insurance plan, commonly referred to as a public option. A vote on the House Democrats' bill is expected sometime this weekend or early next week. And meanwhile, House Republicans have crafted their own plan aimed at reducing health care costs. So, John at this point we're saying that something is going to happen. What would you say are the main differences between the House and the Senate Democrats bill because they're going to have to finally confer and agree?
JOHN WARREN (San Diego Voice & Viewpoint): Well, we have a cost factor between the House and the Senate bills and I think they're going to work that out pretty much. The president would like to see the cost come in under $900 billion and the House bill is $894 billion and the Senate seems to feel they're going to come pretty close to those figures, but we're still going to see what we refer to as a public option. We're going to see an increase in terms of the amount of money that individuals pay. In the first bill it was suggested to be about $250,000. It would be based on incomes of $250,000. It's gone up to $500,000 for individual, $350,000 for families. So, that's a major area right there. We're going to see the coverage pretty much in the same ballpark. So, about 96 percent of the American people will be covered. Being 36 million and 18 million, supposedly illegal immigrants that will not be covered.
PENNER: John mentioned public option. A lot of people read public option as government run healthcare and they're opposed to it. Why is that one of the most controversial elements of the plan?
TOM YORK (Contributing editor, San Diego Business Journal) Well, I think it's the fact that we think of ourselves as a free enterprise economy where people rise by the work of their bootstraps. They make their way that way. Here, we're looking at something that the government going to step again, like they've done in several other areas and they're going to provide health care. So, the debate is really a fundamental debate in our society. That's why this is taking so long. It just so happens that it's a confluence of a Democratic president, a very popular president, a Democratic-controlled Congress at a time when people are concerned about health care because they don't have health care. So, it's being pushed forward now. So, it's a rancorous debate, it's a very fundamental debate. But, I think at the end of the day, we will have a public health care bill.
PENNER: You do? You do think so?
YORK. Yea. Yea. I mean, we'll have this public option.
PENNER: And, I think the whole thing started because people are, so many people are uninsured.
PENNER: And we're looking at that. But, it's grown. It's grown to the point where private health care companies and their ability to limit or even deny coverage is under attack. Now, does the House Democratic bill deal with that?
WARREN: Yes, it does- in three areas. Number one it does away with the anti-trust protections that exist for insurance companies now. It does away with the bid-fixing that they're able to engage in. And it also injects the Federal Trade Commission as a regulatory entity which has not been done before, in terms of health care. The Republicans on the other side are looking at a bill that says, "We want to be able to go from state to state and make it available to everyone," which is attractive. But at the same time, the Republicans would not want the three provisions I just mentioned. Because state to state would make it open and then they would no longer be under state regulation and they would be free to move as they want to. So those are two major areas of difference. And then the Republican bill is a response, in terms of instead of saying "no" let's offer a bill. The provisions were basically there when the Republicans controlled both the Congress and the White House. So, it's nothing new. And the amount of money that it would cost is very different.
PENNER: Okay, well thank you very much, John Warren and Tom York. Thank-you.