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Howard Dean on Health Care Bill: 'This is Real Reform'

Sunday, November 01, 2009

By Susie Madrak
Crooks and Liars


Look, I want single-payer, too. But this bill has a lot of things in it that will quickly offer substantial relief, and I'm not joining the wholesale condemnation. Even Howard Dean called it "real reform" tonight and said he'd vote for it.

There's some good things and some bad things. Actually, a lot of good - and you won't have to wait more than a few months for relief.

The bill keeps kids on their parents' insurance until age 27, there's a temporary insurance pool until the public option is operable, extension of COBRA benefits (still looking for details), steps to close the Medicare doughnut hole, a ban on lifetime coverage limits, and the end of rescissions, except in case of fraud. It also expands Medicaid.

The bill also adds a voluntary long-term care program (and if your parents have seen their insurance carriers crash and burn this year, you know what a blessing this will be). It also funds a temporary reinsurance program that subsidizes employers offering health benefits for retirees aged 55-64.

As Jane pointed out this morning, there's no requirement for generic versions of high-priced breast cancer drugs. In fact, the bill sweetens the pot for Big Pharma by extending patents on those drugs every time they make a minor change. (Like making an extended release formula.) Essentially, it's a monopoly in perpetuity. (And guess which netroots favorite voted for it? Rep. Patrick Murphy. He's got Big Pharma employing many, many voters in his district.)

Breast cancer survivors, organize! No one likes to be perceived as beating up on cancer patients.

Potentially bad: No Medicare+5. At first look, this means fewer savings - and thus, higher premiums. However, these rates will still be negotiated at a national level, and it does not preclude Medicare +5....(Remainder.)

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