Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2009
For Pike County residents with health insurance, the health care reform bill going before the House of Representatives will mean little, said local Rep. Bobby Bright.
That is, if it passes.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act, in all its 1,900 pages, is expected to go before the House for the first time this weekend, and if that happens, Bright will vote no.
“The big thing I’m concerned about it the cost of the bill,” Bright said. “If it passes, it may hold health care costs down for a short period of time. After 10 years or more escalate and have the federal government paying most of it by ways of taxpayers, it could get up to 30 percent of our budget.”
Bright said the bill, in summary, will not impact those who already are insured through a private company or employer. But, for those without insurance, it will provide a public option.
But, it won’t really be an option.
“You would have to maintain some kind of health care coverage, and if you didn’t, you would have penalty against you on your income taxes,” Bright said. “I don’t think that’s right. There are some people who don’t need or want health care. The government shouldn’t mandate every single American to have it.”
The Associated Press reports the health care bill would total $1.2 trillion for the 10-year legislation that would extend health care coverage through the public option and put restrictions on insurance companies.
Even with restrictions though, Bright said health insurance premiums will still continue to rise.
“Your premium next year is going to continue to go on up. If that’s going to happen, why do it?” he said. High costs aren’t the only reason Bright opposes the current legislation.
Like many of the bill’s opponents, federal funding for abortion is a key issue for Bright.
Federal law now bans government funds from being used to pay for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, reports the AP. This bill would create a stream of federal money to subsidize medical insurance premiums.
“I’m a prolife person,” Bright said. “There’s some real breakdowns of people saying indirectly some abortions would be funded through this program.”
Another group that would take a hit, Bright said, is small businesses with a payroll of more than $500,000.
“Your small business would have to (provide health insurance) if it had a salary payroll excess of $500,000 a year,” Bright said.
And, if it didn’t, Bright said the business would be penalized on its taxes.
Another hot debate in the health care bill is a provision in the Senate legislation that would ban illegal immigrants from purchasing health insurance from an exchange or private company, even with their own money.
Bright doesn’t disagree with that area.
“I’m a very legalistic-type person. If you’re illegal, you need to get legal before you have access to all the benefits a nation like ours provides,” Bright said.
While Bright is opposed to this health care bill, he is not opposed to health care reform in general.
“What we’ve got to do is create more competition…so they could compete on a bigger basis for insurance and spread the liability,” Bright said.
The vote is expected to come before the House Saturday, but Democrats may not have the votes by then to pass it, which could push it back to Sunday or Monday, the AP said.