Universal Health Care Coverage

So the US is getting closer to something approximating universal health care coverage.  I haven’t looked to see just what’s happened to, for example, legal foreign visitors, still less illegal ones, but it looks a lot better than the status quo.  And there are even provisions for same-sex couples that make their situation more equitable.

There is also a huge and horrible problem, one that Roman Catholic Church and of course many others apparently worked very hard to bring about.  And that is the complete lack of coverage for abortions except in the case of the mother’s life gravely threatened, incest and rape.

The RC Church bishops demanded that letters denouncing the bill and requests for actions and contributions to fight it be read out at  masses across the country.  This was an action with all sorts of political ramifications, not just about abortion, and it is a puzzle to me how they keep their tax exempt status.  

So what do you think about the compromise?  Pelosi is a strong abortion rights advocate and accepted the restrictions when it seemed either that or the bill will fail.   She’s said to be counting on the senate to have a better bill.  I think that’s the “right” decision, but that’s in large part because I’m worried that the possibility of no bill at all is very much alive still. 

What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Universal Health Care Coverage

  1. With the Stupak compromise included in the bill, it is less than ideal for sure, but given the starting point, the greater good is served by passing the bill. It is important for those frustrated by the antiabortion provisions to keep in mind that the bill doesn’t change the right to get an abortion, it only forces the costs to be covered by the individual. The ability to get abortion coverage should be something fought for once the protections enabled by the bill are put in place.

  2. I disagree with Wellescent. This is precisely how women in the U.S. have been losing abortion access, bit by bit, year by year, starting with the Hyde amendment just after Roe which banned any federal money being spent on abortion. Always abortion access is the first (or close to it) to be traded away and it continues to reinforce for politicians, the public and the ‘antis’ that opponents have a moral veto that cannot be challenged. And so it never is challenged. And would that it were true that abortion coverage will be fought for once the “protections enabled by this bill are in place”. But it won’t be. I suppose aside from that, I don’t think there is much of a “greater good” here. Sure, perhaps if this bill DID move the U.S. closer to universal coverage, but I don’t think it does that. So we’re selling out women in order that insurance companies get a huge windfall through mandatory private insurance. This bill has not enough that it positive to warrant the price being paid by women. And what positive elements it does have (I acknowledge there are some) could be done through much more limited insurance reform, which at least wouldn’t force individuals into the private insurance market agains their will. (Kucinich’s amendment to allow individual states to pursue single payer programs was dropped at the behest of the White House, part of the quid pro quo for the insurance lobby.)

  3. Captiver, I’m trying to understand your objection. Here’s what the NY Times is saying Democrats say:

    Democrats say the House measure — paid for through new fees and taxes, along with cuts in Medicare — would extend coverage to 36 million people now without insurance while creating a government health insurance program. It would end insurance company practices like not covering pre-existing conditions or dropping people when they become ill.

    It seems to me there are some huge differences here from what we have had, even though there would have been better plans. Do you think the picture above is misleading? I really am just trying to understand.

    I do think the public option is v. important, along with restrictions on some of the most nefarious actions of the insurers. Some figure I saw said 96% of Americans would be covered; if so, that is a huge difference.

  4. JJ, etc., Perhaps you are right. The extension of coverage is important and significant. I’ve read lots of critiques of how this entrenches private insurance monopolistic practices, channels money from the govt to for-profit heath-care, does little to control costs and is achieved through individual mandate, as I mentioned, where individuals must take part in for-profit insurance. Though what other choice is there anyway, since the so-called public option won’t be available for very many. But I am absolutely reconsidering my position — I wouldn’t want to go down the road of the wielders of the moral veto. So after reading your posts, I am less sure of my initial (admittedly rather indignant) position. My inner jury is still out. I don’t live in the U.S. anymore but when there was one of those who was taxed up the wazoo for my domestic partner’s healthcare (on my employer). I find the for-profit system so pernicious it’s hard to support anything that gives is succor. At this point, though, I realize I’m just making excuse. Thanks!

  5. That’s funny, Captiver, since I was planning on saying you are right! I was seeing more clearly how the amendment adds in new restrictions to getting an abortion. It is an awful piece of legislation.

    Further, it is awful that the RC Church is having such a big influence on legislation regarding women’s health care.

    One good thing is that the extra tax for health insurance on domestic partners is being dropped.

    This is not an easy matter at all!

  6. Indeed, JJ, it is looking pretty ugly, complicated, etc. Sen. Tom Harkin offered this rather scary comment (quoted in a piece at rhrealitycheck.org):

    “You have to be a little bit careful here because the way the … amendment is written, it can now be taken to other steps. For example, every health insurance company in America could now lose some of its tax benefits that it gets for providing health insurance if it provides abortion services. You can take this on down. You could just say that anybody that got a federal loan for housing could not get an abortion. You can take this and just keep going on and on and on with no end in sight,” Harkin said.

    It seems the pro-choice constituency is energised, but I fear Nancy et al made a big political mistake letting this through (aside from the sellout aspect that gets me all riled up). I’m concerned that as far as the conservatives are concerned Stupak is effectively the new status quo which they will fight to retain, while pro-choice campaigners have to fight to roll back to the old (already awful) status quo. Aside from the cost to women, it might not prove worth the political cost to the Dems. It’s been reported that both sides had “agreed” not to use the bill to try to either advance or roll back abortion rights, but one side (we know which) didn’t stick to the bargain. It’s good that Obama has made a comment, albeit milquey toastie in my (admittedly still indignant) view, that health care reform should not roll back any rights/coverage of this kind.
    And on a lighter note, I’m trying to come up with some Tea Party-type slogans:

    Keep Your Government Hands Off My Abortion Care.

    It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Thanks for the discussion.

  7. An article posted on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force site highlights the religious opposition to removing women’s reproductive rights from the bill. This “article of faith” was written by the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, Rev. Debra Haffner, and supports the inclusion of reproductive rights for women in the bill. I just happened to be surfing the cite.

    http://www.thetaskforce.org/press/releases/pr_aof_111309

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