What Didn’t Get into the Healthcare Bill

From the Miami Herald:kennedy(13)

The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy and the tenor of tea party protests resulted in significant reductions.

In the year it took Congress to write and pass a healthcare overhaul, turbulent political shifts — including the Democrats’ loss of the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and the rise of the tea party movement — forced critical compromises on the scope of legislation.

The downsized ambitions of the final package mean that 32 million more people — not the 37 million in the original proposals — will end up insured by 2019. Others will face greater financial strain than lawmakers originally envisioned.

The political developments are well-known: A group of six Democratic and Republican senators, led by Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., failed to forge a bipartisan agreement. Concerns about the federal deficit swelled. Grass-roots conservatives filled congressional town hall meetings in August and helped to propel Republican Scott Brown to victory in Massachusetts. That deprived Democrats of a filibuster-proof Senate majority and transformed them from confident victors of the 2008 elections to nervous incumbents.

Less widely understood are the adjustments the healthcare overhaul legislation underwent from July 2009, when Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives first introduced their ambitious proposal, to this past week, as the House passed the Senate bill and a related package of changes.

Those modifications will have major effects on Americans in years to come:

The final package will leave 23 million people without coverage, nearly six million more than originally intended.

Low-income workers receiving subsidies will end up paying more in premiums than they would have under the original House proposal; they also may have to pay more out of pocket on deductibles and co-insurance. However, the final version offers people significant financial protections that they don’t have now.

The final package will experiment with dozens of ways to slow the growth of medical costs, but lacks the most aggressive measures proposed during a year of negotiations.

[Read more at the Miami Herald]