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Will the Death of Senator Ted Kennedy Impact the Obama Healthcare Bill?

If you are like me, until recently, you have probably half-heartedly followed the news reports on healthcare reform. I thought I'd wait until the dust settled and a more finalized draft of the healthcare bill had been developed before I weighed in. Needless to say, I was very surprised to hear all the uproar about less than pleasant protests taking place all over the country. I decided maybe I'd better find out sooner than later what all the fuss was about. As most of you know, our country is in a healthcare crisis. President Obama and the 111th Congress want to overhaul our current healthcare system and develop a system that would provide healthcare coverage to every American. That sounds easy enough. However, there are various points that proponents on each side of the debate need further clarification on.

Because I wasn't following the reform closely, there are several things that I was unaware of. First of all, I didn't know the correct name of the legislation is America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. You may not have known that as well. In the media, we have always heard terms like Obama-care, the Obama plan, healthcare reform and so on. Secondly, I didn't know that there were two versions of the healthcare bill, a house version and a senate version. Both bills are lengthy. Here's a summary of the house version.

Laurinda Dodgen, University of Illinois Extension Community Health Educator says "there are many myths about the new reform bill floating around." While preparing to write this blog, I found many online. Some points of contention include:

1. "Myth": Seniors will be euthanized.

"Truth": The house bill addresses estate planning issues.

2. "Myth": Private insurance costs will increase or private plans will be eliminated.

"Truth": A public insurance exchange will be created; the government plan will be one of many

3. "Myth": Medicare benefits will be cut to fund the healthcare reform.

"Truth": Medicare savings come from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and the elimination of fraud and abuse, not from reductions in patient care.

4. "Myth": The quality of care and services will decrease.

"Truth": With more options available, quality of care is expected to increase. Services will remain the same, and won't be rationed out as critics have suggested.

5. "Myth": Employees will have to change plans and doctors.

"Truth": Employees can keep their same plans, doctors, etc. The public plan will be an available option, not the only option.

Both of these arguments have some validity. I cannot say that one has a better argument than the other. I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The one person that everyone believes could have brought both sides together is the now deceased U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Sen. Kennedy has been a force to be reckoned with for many years. He has influenced a wide variety of legislation, including many that dealt with healthcare. It has been said that even from his sickbed he made calls and spoke to legislators about getting the healthcare reform passed. Now that he has passed away, strong recommendations have been made to name the reform bill after him. Will his death play a part in getting the bill passed? It's hard to say. If it does, it's too bad Sen. Kennedy won't be around to see his dream of universal healthcare become a reality. He has been advocating for universal healthcare for the past 30 years.

The question remains whether both sides will be able to come together and find common ground. I believe they will. As I looked at the bills, there are more things that are similar than different. I think a neutral party, without political or financial interests will be needed to mediate between the groups. Will the wrinkles get ironed out before the end of the year? Who knows? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, send me an email with your reactions to the healthcare debate. I'd like to hear the thoughts of average Americans. Maybe I'll share your thoughts in my next blog.

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