Debrief on the Health Care Bill

Monday, November 09, 2009

Jonathan Alter, senior editor and columnist for Newsweek, offers analysis of the health care bill, and is joined by New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell.


Jonathan Alter and Bill Pascrell

Comments [65]

mary from new jersey

Read the Stupak amendment for yourself.
Let's all try to be as fully informed as possible.

Nov. 09 2009 09:13 PM
Steve from Hewlett, Long Island

No one mentions that IF a final version of the health care bill passes it will not take effect for 4 years. The frustration that will result in not having immediate change will be overwhelming to supporters and leave the new law vulnerable to revision by the next Congress. We need change NOW!

Nov. 09 2009 04:43 PM
jen from manhattan

I wonder what the deductibles are going to be with these plans. In NYC for the past year if you have a deductible the providers are asking you to pay it to them in advance and they will refund any overpayment when they get paid by insurance. This is the case even if it is a procedure involving multiple providers (i.e., a hospital, a doctor, an anesthesiologist) and there is no telling who is going to get their bill in and hit the deductible first.

This is not to slam doctors since I understand they stand a lot to lose when they can't collect from the patients and the margins are already thin. Whenever I get an EOB from my insurance company and see the rates they negotiated with my doctors, I always feel bad for the doctors and I can't imagine how they stay in business.

Nov. 09 2009 04:27 PM
J.C. from Minneapolis

I tip my hat to all the congressmen who had the courage to vote for this health insurance reform bill. Despite its flaws (and I'm talking about flaws as someone who wants 100% coverage and a strong public insurance plan available to anyone who wants to buy into it), it brings ever closer to universal health insurance in this country, which we should all be happy to pay for because it is the right thing to do. No one should have to go bankrupt because of medical bills, hesitate to go the doctor because of the cost, or have the question of whether he/she will even have insurance determined by whether he/she is employed. Period.

Also, if Sen. Lieberman (Insurance Party-Connecticut) insists on filibustering the bill, I agree with the poster above who said he should be kicked out of the Democratic caucus. Lieberman can go get his committee assignments from the Republican "I have health insurance, so the heck with you" Party's leaders.

Nov. 09 2009 03:01 PM
Laura from Westchester

Re: 48 anon from nj

I think millionaire households can help us out with a small tax to help the working poor and middle class get access to healthcare. They benefit from a healthier country. Pay back some of those Bush tax cuts that DID NOT strengthen the enconomy

Nov. 09 2009 12:18 PM
Laura from Westchester

Re: Mark from Princeton:
Preventative health care will be funded which will help with the "Preventable" illness issue.

There is also a government emphasis on healthier lifestyles.

Nov. 09 2009 12:13 PM
Laura from Westchester

To Calls em:
There ARE rules about length. This is not about censorship.

Nov. 09 2009 12:07 PM
hjs from 11211

40000 american die every year because they don't have health insurance.

for me it's a moral issue and YES i would gladly pay to save the lives of americans.

the GOP have asked us to pay of two wars that didn't make us safer NOW that's immoral.

Nov. 09 2009 12:06 PM
hjs from 11211

you're so coy
some, (like u) denying the democratic will of the people and trying to undercut the current president claim our president was not born in Hawaii. you know of such people??? they are called birthers. they and the teabaggers don't like facts and use the media to twist reality to benefit wealthy people who don't think they should pay taxes.

Nov. 09 2009 12:02 PM
Jef from Princeton

If we allow one religion to dictate healthcare policy, we have to allow all religions to do so. So Christian Scientists will be able to prevent private or government funding of any medical procedures or intervention, and Jehovah's Witnesses can prevent funding for any involving blood transfusions.

Nov. 09 2009 11:59 AM
sondra from brooklyn

Women's rights are completely being stomped on by this plan.
Yet another reason I wouldn't vote for it.

It's so sad that this is such a huge problem, and needs a solution. But what is being passed is a poor excuse for reform. This is partisan hi-jacking. And of course, the legislators who want to take away women's right to choose are the same ones who think abstinence-only education works.

Nov. 09 2009 11:59 AM

This bill has been and will continue to move "right" with every iteration. By the time it arrives on President Obama's desk it will have been transmogrified into something unrecognizable as reform to progressives. And the congressional majorities will very likely diminish in 2010. So this is the best that progressives can expect in the President's first term.

Nov. 09 2009 11:59 AM
Jef from Princeton

If we allow one religion to dictate healthcare policy, we have to allow all religions to do so. So Christian Scientists will be able to prevent private or government funding of any medical procedures or intervention, and Jehovah's Witnesses can prevent funding for any involving blood transfusions.

Nov. 09 2009 11:53 AM
Lori from Montclair, NJ

Desiree from Brooklyn: YES! YOU GET IT!

Few things shape a woman's destiny, earning power and overall emotional/physical health like pregnancy, particularly an unwanted pregnancy.

The ironic thing is that these are the same wing nuts that ostracize single mothers and resent welfare given to women and dependent children.

NOW, Planned Parenthood, and the Feminist Majority Foundation have been lobbying for this plan and now they've been betrayed by the same politicians they have supported/endorsed.

Nov. 09 2009 11:51 AM
Jef from Princeton

If we're going to let one religion dictate policy, we have to let all of them. So Christian Scientists can have all medical interventions removed from both government and private funded programs, and Jehovah's Witnesses can keep funding from any use of blood transfusions.

Nov. 09 2009 11:49 AM
sondra from brooklyn

Seems like Mark makes the most sense...

This has turned into a watered down excuse for reform, and will probably not help. It's a deeply messed up system, and a huge problem to tackle. But there are several countries we can look to for examples (Germany, Japan, Sweden, etc.) The whole system needs to change, and the government is the only entity that can tackle this change. Unfortunately, the compromise being passed by the House is not the solution.

BTW anyone who throws around the terms "commie" and "fascist" pretty much negates their argument by looking insane.

Nov. 09 2009 11:48 AM
Joel from Washington Heights

I was listening this morning and was shocked to hear Congressman Pascrell say a woman who paid for an abortion out of her own pocket would still lose a government subsidy. I have two questions: 1) Will she still lose the subsidy if she has the procedure from a doctor at a facility outside of her plan? 2) What happens if she has complications from the procedure? Will the subsidized plan cover the care? Will that impact her subsidy?

Nov. 09 2009 11:42 AM
anon from NJ

The question that interests me is how many of the people who have posted here in favor of "reform" will actually pay for it? I'll guess none.

If you were to be assessed a 5.4% tax increase would you still be so blindly supportive of a program that appears to be somewhat dysfunctional and ultimately unsustainable? (and doesn't include tort reform, negotiating Rx prices, etc., etc.)

Nov. 09 2009 11:42 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from McLean, VA

HJS - what is a "brither?"

Nov. 09 2009 11:37 AM
Mark from Princeton from Princeton NJ

This whole discussion is flawed:

1) This was not a health care bill, but a health insurance and health coverage bill. To think that this is going to solve the root problem (in too many cases) is dangerously misleading.

2) To that I add, unless the underlying burden on the system is addressed - that is, the general unhealthy lifestyle(s) of the American people - this "health care bill" will only redistribute the costs and coverage. Regardless of who's covered and who pays for it, the care will need to be paid for. Prevention is the best strategy to reduce costs.

3) Do I believe we need a "universal" solution? Yes, something is in order for "the richest country in the world." Unfortunately, until the actions of individuals (read: poor choices with regards to their health) are some how tied back to the individual, then there is no incentive for the individual to change.

I have not read the bill but I have yet to read/hear anything about it developing incentives for "reforming" those in the system. Without change at the mass level, We The People will continue to be burdened with the excessive costs due to an aging population that is getting less and less healthy.

Note: I realize that this doesn't not apply to everyone but the fact is a significant percentage of health care can be prevented. In those cases, the problem isn't the system, it's those in the system.

Nov. 09 2009 11:26 AM
hjs from 11211

it is sad for them. they don't know how much the nutwings help the moderate-left. i think some might have a problem with your "facts" since you are an unrepentant brither, facts have little meaning to you

links are easy to find

i hope you just cut and paste that and did not type it all up

Nov. 09 2009 11:18 AM
Lee Nixon from Montclair, NJ

The landmark healthcare reform legislation that just passed is a fantastic moment for America. I support it wholeheartedly and would have voted for it in a heartbeat.

No way can we let Lieberman derail the bill's passage. Imagine if one lone senator had the power to keep Lincoln from abolishing slavery? This reform will affect many millions of people for generations to come. Time for the people of CT to let this guy know that they won't tolerate it.

Nov. 09 2009 11:15 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from McLean, VA

HJS - I will try and get the links when I can.

Still, I try and post issues, facts and ideas that Brian won't air.

Since this is still America, people are free to pass over anything they don't want to read.

Given that, it's funny that there are always a few fascist liberals who want to ban a post that conflicts with their opinion.

How sad for them.

Nov. 09 2009 11:10 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from McLean, VA

HJS - I will try and get the links when I can.

Still, I try and post issues, facts and ideas that Brian won't air.

Since this is still America, people are free to pass over anything they don't want to read.

Given that, it's funny that there are always a few fascist liberals who want to ban a post that conflicts with their opinion.

How sad for them.

Nov. 09 2009 11:07 AM
Debra Stein from NYC

The no-abortion part of the health care bill will get to the Supreme Court and maybe we can't be so sure they will vote that such restrictions eliminate pro-choice, I think they will.

Nov. 09 2009 11:05 AM
paulette from nyc

I agree with Annaf in nyc, comment 14...I have noticed most opposed for health care reform and Obama are white men who still have jobs (and usually vote for their wallet) and can we curb the sarcasm, mean and nasty comments are only noise and only cloud issues.

Nov. 09 2009 11:04 AM
Laura from Westchester

Thank you helen Northmore for verifyable facts, not spin.

Nov. 09 2009 11:03 AM
paulette from nyc

I agree with annaf from nyc, comment 14. And I've noticed people who oppose health care reform and Obama are usually white men, still with a job! BTW, can we curb the sarcasm, I am so sick of mean snide remarks (obviously they have been watching too many Southpark reruns)they only get in the way and they are not funny.

Nov. 09 2009 11:01 AM
Laura from Westchester

Please note that I bet several, if not many, dem reps in tricky districts were released to vote against the health care reform bill once 218 was reached. And hooray for Cao voting his district and his conscience sitting next to Cantor!!!!

Nov. 09 2009 10:55 AM
hjs from 11211

just post the link next time. thanks

Nov. 09 2009 10:52 AM
Helen Northmore from New York

Further regarding Medicare Advantage:

". . .only a subset of beneficiaries receivi(e) extra
benefits through Medicare Advantage plans. Furthermore, all beneficiaries pay higher Part B premiums to help pay for higher Medicare payments to Medicare Advantage plans."

Nov. 09 2009 10:51 AM
Helen Northmore from New York

Regarding Medicare Advantage: Do we need to subsidize memberships to Curves and paying for massages? Medicare Advantage costs the taxpayer more than traditional Medicare. According to MedPAC, payments to Medicare Advantage plans per enrollee average 114% of FFS costs in 2009.

Nov. 09 2009 10:48 AM
Desiree from Brooklyn

I don't see how this health care bill helps the self-employed or the unemployed and I can not believe that people find the abortion restrictions acceptable.

There are millions of US citizens who don't qualify for unemployment and therefore are never counted as unemployed.

So how does the Public Option help them?
I'm not sure who this Public Option is mean to assist.

I completely support a public form of health insurance and I would pay more taxes if it was necessary.

Health care should not be connected to employment.

So far, none of the options presented seem to address the REAL unemployed (those who are never counted because they can't apply for unemployment benefits) or the self-employed.

Finally, I would NEVER vote for a bill that doesn't cover reproductive choice procedures.

I don't understand how abortion (which is legal in this country) can be singled out as a procedure that isn't covered by this medical insurance under this bill and people seem to think that's fair and not discriminatory.

Nov. 09 2009 10:44 AM
paulette from nyc

I am very emotional about this (my earlier mess wasn't clear) when my ex husband divorced me in nyc I could not afford to carry over into cobra! I work for myself, consider myself middle class (maybe this is an illusion,lol)Abortion to me is not a deal killer, I'm pro choice but not to pass the bill because of abortion is absurd...and if you think about it abortion is not an illness, pregnancy is a preventive condition...What is important is this bill dealing with catastrophic illess, such as cancer (I personally have had good women friends who died in nyc because, like me, couldn't afford doctor visits and when they came down with illness it was too late).And regarding poor people they already have medicare (if you are low income and on disablility) The people who make these things deal killers are not seeing the big picture and I bet they have healthcare or they would know what I, along with my girlfriends have gone through.

Nov. 09 2009 10:42 AM
JK from Midtown

ot, but does anyone else find themselves just quickly scrolling straight through "calls em as i see em's" comments? its great fun ignoring his regurgitation of the drudge report.

Nov. 09 2009 10:41 AM
LOSER Detection Inc.

Lots of Bad Manners above. Wondering why you aren't gettin any?

Nov. 09 2009 10:41 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from McLean, VA


By Dick Morris & Eileen Mcgann - Published on "TheHill.Com” on November 6, 2009

The only industry that refused to knuckle under was the medical device makers. They stood for principle and wouldn't go along with Obama's blackmail. So the Senate Finance ommittee retaliated by imposing a tax on medical devices such as automated wheelchairs, pacemakers, arterial stents, prosthetic limbs, artificial knees and hips and other necessary accoutrements of healthcare.

So these endorsements are not freely given, but bought and paid for by an administration that is intent on passing its program at any cost.

Nov. 09 2009 10:39 AM
hjs from 11211

this is too bad I was planning on getting several abortions next year. now without the government paying for them, I don't know what I'll do with my free time!

Nov. 09 2009 10:35 AM
paulette from nyc

Abortion to me is not a deal killer, I'm pro choice but not to pass the bill because of abortion is absurd...and if you think about it abortion is not an illness but a preventive condition...What is important is this bill dealing with catastrophic illess, such as cancer

Nov. 09 2009 10:32 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Many have pointed out that the races for governor could not be analyzed as a referendum on Obama. The two congressional races in NY and CA which elected Democrats were more indicative of the national mood. In Virginia, the more Deeds ran from Obama, the more he lost Dem support. In NJ, Corzine was deeply unpopular and never tapped into traditional Dem support. Christie sent a simplistic message with no specifics.

Nov. 09 2009 10:30 AM
Christopher Deignan from Middle Village

Democrats need to do whatever it takes to censure Joe Liebermann. It's infuriating that he still wields any power whatsoever in the Senate. It's time he joined the Republicans.

Nov. 09 2009 10:29 AM
BrettG from Astoria

After working in a hospital, I know that this "bill" is just more subsidies to Big Insurance & Big Pharma.

Pres. Obama didn't put forward his own bill. He left it to Congressional whims.

How about getting healthcare for all? Why add "insurance" to the mix.

The abortion restriction is a non-starter. It's basically a "Boys' Club" restricting womens' choices.

This bill & the GOP "bill" is even worse are worse than what we have now.

I voted for Pres. Obama & I'm disappointed that he & especially his DLC/Clinton staff have mismanaged this "push" as they have on FISA/Telecom warrantless wiretapping, etc.

Nov. 09 2009 10:29 AM
anon from NJ

Let me get this straight:

Small businesses will be penalized. (MANY small business owners who say have 10 employees) will be penalized.

Small business owners and individuals of a certain income will pay increased income tax.


Women's reproductive rights were bartered away.
PHARMA gets a sweetheart deal.
No tort reform.
No change to the fee structure which drives up costs.


If insurance companies cannot refuse coverage to individuals or cancel coverage, they will just redistribute the risks/costs and people who pay high fees already (but are healthy) will pay more in premiums.


Nov. 09 2009 10:29 AM

(How) will individuals and families who incorporate for tax purposes scam this new system?

Nov. 09 2009 10:27 AM
Helen Northmore from New York

Improved women's health care will help reduce the number of abortions. There is a strong correlation between a decrease in the number of abortions as the availability of contraception increases. Health care includes reproductive health care. “In 2004, publicly funded family planning clinics in the United States helped women and couples avoid more than 1.4 million unintended pregnancies, an estimated 600,000 of which would have ended in abortion.”

Nov. 09 2009 10:27 AM
paulette from nyc

Brian, let me chime in to the woman who just commented because the Health Care bill doesn’t cover abortion,….I am pro-choice, abortion isn’t to me a deal killer, because it isn’t an illness and for the gentleman who comment on leaving out poor Americans, poor Americans have Medicare if they are low income. This bill is a positive step in the right direction. I work for myself, I think of my self as middle class, but when I divorced my ex husband could not afford to carry over to cobra, it was $1,000 for me, here in nyc. I would vote for it! It is a good start.

Nov. 09 2009 10:26 AM
Steven Mark from Manhattan UES

Can either guest explain why a government looking to stay on budget and an insurance co, trying to protect their bottom line will be any different? For example, won't the child with cancer still be denied coverage for an experimental drug by either?

Nov. 09 2009 10:26 AM

If there is a minimum payroll for the up to 8% business payroll tax, is there a minimum income for the 2% income tax for those not buying healthcare? Shouldn't there be?

Nov. 09 2009 10:26 AM
K Mac from NYC

The goverment getting involved in the private sector under the guise of reducing healthcare costs is an absolute farce. An employee of Newsweek and a congressman, neither of whom pay healtthcare for employees. Give it a rest and get a real businessman on the air. Do these folks actually believe their own b*llshit? Please.

Nov. 09 2009 10:26 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

The media has played a pernicious role in all this as well -- focusing on the partisan battle and shedding little light on actual issues. Everywhere -- even NPR -- the reporting states that either the House or Senate bill will cost X trillion dollars without saying how many trillion will be spent with no reform. The comparison might be enlightening -- but we'll never know.

Nov. 09 2009 10:24 AM
Helen Northmore from New York

The House bill will provide a credit for firms with fewer than 10 employees whose average annual wage is less than $20,000. The credit is equal to half of the firm’s contribution for health insurance. A firm with 8 employees that paid $20,000 per worker in wages and $8,000 per worker in health insurance premiums would receive a tax credit of $32,000. Firms with 10 to 19 employees with average annual wages between $20,000 and $40,000 would also receive a tax credit.

Nov. 09 2009 10:22 AM
annaf from nyc


Nov. 09 2009 10:21 AM
Helen Northmore from New York

With the recently passed House Bill, firms with payrolls under $500,000 a year will not pay a penalty for not providing health insurance to their employees.

In 2006, 87 percent of firms had an annual payroll of less than $500,000 a year.

Nov. 09 2009 10:21 AM
Chriss from NJ


*** Ask Pascrell if he read the bill!!!!

You gave a 1 page summary of a 2000 PAGE bill.

I suspect there are things in here that only the folks who put them there are aware of (because we know, no one read the thing.)

Nov. 09 2009 10:21 AM
Kirsten Jiminiez from Bronx

Alter does seem to worship at the altar of Obama. The job of the media however is to speak truth to power - not to fawn over elected officials.

Nov. 09 2009 10:21 AM

I'd say no to the 2,000 page pile. I'm one of the people who's never counted, self employed and currently barely employed and not getting by and now I have to be forced to pay?

Nov. 09 2009 10:20 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from McLean, VA

The conservative citizens of this country won big on election day in New Jersey and Virginia. They also won big in local suburban districts all over America. They also won big again defeating left wing legislation in Maine (the 30th state to do so).

The people are just beginning to rouse themselves against the attempted Bolshevik and Maoist "democratic" coup by the Democrat Party - lead by Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Weiner et al.

Despite losing in a couple of congressional races, conservatives also were able to get 46% of the vote in NY 23 on a shoe string budget on only eight (8) weeks of campaigning by an unknown candidate. They were also able to get 44% of the vote in a super liberal CA congressional race.

The election even had impact on the bogus health care bill vote as evidenced by 39 Dems voting against the bill despite the unprecedented arm twisting, threats and bribes deployed against them. More would have voted against the bill, if they thought the Senate wouldn’t defeat it.

And speaking of health care:

The Commie health care bill is unconstitutional.

There is no constitutional authority to force people to buy something;

even under a wild stretch of the commerce clause.

The bill requires people to buy a product.

Then if you don’t buy what the Government ordered you to buy, you are subject to a heavy fine.

If you don’t pay the fine you are then subject to arrest and imprisonment for up to five years.

This law will not stand up to constitutional challenge.

Nov. 09 2009 10:19 AM
sondra from brooklyn

Thanks to Brian for doing a brief recap of what the health care bill actually says.
I would like to know if there is any discussion of price- setting for medical procedures. One issue that keeps the insurance premiums high is that prices are wildly different from one market to another, from one health care provider to another. Doesn't Maryland have set prices for care? Why can't we do this on a national level?

Nov. 09 2009 10:19 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

The process of creating health care reform has been depressing, demoralizing and disgusting. The president obviously has no control over either the House or the Senate. And the House measure passed on Saturday sells out women and the middle class. Now, hearing the idiocy coming from the GOP senators and Lieberman the disaster looming is almost too much to contemplate.

Nov. 09 2009 10:18 AM
Susan from Chatham NJ

I would vote for this healthcare bill even though it denies women's reproductive rights. I would rather have this imperfect bill and work to amend it than have either no bill or one similar to that proposed by the GOP, which addresses almost none of the issues identified by President Obama and the Democratic Caucus.

Nov. 09 2009 10:17 AM
Suzannah from Brooklyn, NY

Concerning the health care bill, what about the self employed? There is no one to pay my health insurance but me, will I get help?

Nov. 09 2009 10:17 AM
Chriss from NJ

Anyone else find Alter one of the BIGGEST OBAMA lovers around?

I used to like him, but his Obama booty-kissing is a turn off.

More than that, he's an apologist. Obama does no wrong.

Did he really say, Obama does amazing things EVERYDAY...

(And don't get me started on his dumb idea that NO ONE pays attention to Washington and it's HIS job to TELL us what's going on.)

Alter has, sadly, turned into a partisan hack.

Nov. 09 2009 10:16 AM
hjs from 11211

don't count those chicken just yet

Nov. 09 2009 10:16 AM
Suzannah from Brooklyn, NY

Concerning, health care bill. What about the self employed? There is no one to pay my health insurance but me, will I get any help in this bill.

Nov. 09 2009 10:15 AM
Gary from Upper Left Side

Oh Jonathan, you and the other Obama worshipers will be so, so disappointed when you discover the emperor has no clothes.

Nov. 09 2009 10:14 AM

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