By: Kent McCarty
As members of the House and Senate continue to debate which direction to take on healthcare reform, the major details of the proposed healthcare reform bill, H.R. 3200, are still undecided. While nearly all congressmen and women agree that some reform is needed, they cannot agree on how exactly to carry out the reforms.
The House and Senate have been debating the reform bill for weeks in an effort to negotiate a bill that will be supported by both Republicans and Democrats, though these talks have proven unsuccessful. Many congressional Republicans and moderate Democrats have expressed their disapproval in including the public option, which will create a government-run health insurance option that will compete with private insurance companies and be available to anyone at a potentially lower price than those currently offered by private insurers. On the opposite end of the debate are liberal Democrats in Congress who have said that they will not support the bill if it does not include the public option because they believe that it is key in providing everyone with affordable health insurance.
Another key provision in the healthcare debate is mandating that Americans have health insurance, much like many states require that drivers have car insurance. As is the case with the public option debate, Republicans and Democrats remain divided on the issue. Many Republicans have spoken out recently against mandatory health insurance, including former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who said he “wouldn’t mandate owning a home or going to college, so why would [he] mandate health insurance?” Those in favor of the mandate say it’s no different than requiring auto insurance and is a necessary way to increase the quality of life for Americans.
According to House leaders, the proposed amendments are to be ready for debate on the House floor by the middle of October, with the changes to the Senate version of the bill to be debated shortly thereafter. Though Congressional Democrats think they have enough votes to pass reform without Republican support, these talks will be good indicators of just how many Republicans and moderate Democrats will be on board when the final vote on H.R. 3200 occurs.