Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform: Who are the big winners?

With a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system, Congress would be giving the health care industry as many as 32 million additional paying customers in the next few years.

That would mean millions more Americans buying private health insurance and better able to pay for their hospital stays, doctors’ visits, prescription drugs and medical devices.

And some analysts said as the vote neared that the final legislation was shaping up as much kinder to the industry than many initially feared. Hospitals and drug makers, which supported the final legislation, would be clear beneficiaries, analysts say, even if the outlook for insurers was less certain.


To help spread the costs and risks of insurance, the legislation would eventually require most Americans to have insurance or pay a federal penalty


Hospitals have little to fear. The number of newly insured is expected to decrease significantly the amount that hospitals now lose each year when they provide care to people with no means to pay.


Doctors are another group likely to benefit from more paying customers, which is a reason that the American Medical Association last week began publicly supporting the legislation.

Yet doctors must still wait for Congress to handle the sharp payment cuts they perennially face under Medicare as a result of the formula the government uses to pay doctors. In recent years, Congress has annually stepped in with a so-called doc fix to stave off those cuts.

Well doctors, IF the congress sticks to the budget they presented to the CBO you'll be keeping the Medicare cuts next year. Of course, with people ready in November to vote in a bunch of Republicans out of anger over the lack of hope and change (eyeroll) , there's a good chance the Medicare budget projections will change.

Drug makers, meanwhile, may have the most clear reason to celebrate the legislation. Pharmaceutical companies are going to be asked to contribute $85 billion toward the cost of the bill in the form of industry fees and lower prices paid under governmentprograms over 10 years. But they can look forward to tens of billions of dollars in additional revenue as more people with insurance visit doctors and fill prescriptions.

"Nom nom nom" says the pharmaceutical industry. "All our lobbying paid off!"

As a result, the pharmaceutical industry has been a significant proponent of the legislation, in sharp contrast to its behavior when the Clinton administration tried to pass a similar overhaul. The industry spent an estimated $100 million in TV advertising, grass-roots organizing and other marketing efforts to promote reform.

The legislation will also eventually close the gap in Medicare drug coverage, known as the doughnut hole, in which elderly patients must pay for prescription drugs rather than having them covered by the government. Many chose to stop taking their medicine or switched to lower-price generics.

Eventually? Eventually?! Why not do that this year big O? Come on! I thought this was for the people. Historic just like civil rights legislation and Medicare? What happened?

Sorry, I watched them vote the bill in on cspan yesterday and it kinda poisoned my brain cells a little.

Historic indeed.

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