Health Care in a Sick Economy

As jobs disappear and economic anxiety spreads, the incoming Congress is showing signs of getting serious about health care reform, and the entrenched health insurers are signaling their willingness to negotiate.

Two trade groups, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, are saying they would guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, if they can get a mandate for individual coverage by everyone, sick or well.

This “concession” comes as seven senators responsible for health legislation met yesterday and promised to work together–Democrats Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy and John D. Rockefeller IV along with Republicans Michael Enzi, Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch.

The imminent appointment of Tom Daschle as Obama’s point man on the issue is another sign that the failing economy is putting more pressure on Washington to create a health care safety net for everyone just as the 1930s produced Social Security for the old.

Without limits on predatory premiums and safeguards against fraud by providers, guaranteed coverage would do nothing to solve the crisis in which one out of every three dollars spent on health is going to insurers’ overhead and profits.

But at least the issue is on the table…

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Author: ROBERT STEIN

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