October 14, 2009

One hurdle cleared

Random animal picture. Arpad, the big white boy on the right, has been missing since Monday.

Health care reform efforts cleared a major hurdle yesterday, when the Senate Finance Committee approved its plan to revamp the system. While the bill is way better than nothing, it could still be improved. Here is the introduction to an analysis by Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The Senate Finance Committee’s approval of an ambitious health reform plan marks a major step toward enactment of legislation to extend health care to tens of millions of people who lack it, strengthen insurance protections for millions more who are underinsured or face exorbitant charges, and begin to address the nation’s most serious fiscal threat — the relentless rise in health care costs.

The Congressional Budget Office has reported that the bill would modestly reduce the budget deficit both over the next ten years and beyond. This is a fiscally responsible bill that would redirect federal spending and tax subsidies from less productive uses elsewhere in the health care sector. (Read: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2920)

While the committee package represents a vast improvement over the current health insurance system, it has some serious shortcomings that likely would limit its effectiveness in certain areas. Because the health reform bills approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and three House committees are stronger in those areas, policymakers should blend the best provisions from these bills as they move forward.

The rest is worth a look.

THIS IS GOING TO GET UGLY. A public hearing on changes to the mountaintop removal mining permit process got loud and nasty in Charleston. As I've said before, I really hope I'm wrong but it wouldn't surprise me if somebody gets killed before all this is over.

A LITTLE MORE CIVIL was this public forum on health care reform the same night.

PAY CUTS are another feature of working life in the Great Recession.

A VISIT WITH THE DOCTOR. That is, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley.



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