House Republicans who are poised to vote to repeal the new health care reform law have an obligation to propose an alternative plan to deal with lack of coverage and rising health care costs, Sen. Ben Nelson said Wednesday.
“Show us the plan,” Nelson said during a telephone conference call from Washington.
Simple repeal means going back to 10 percent annual increases in insurance premiums, children being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, adult children who may be unemployed no longer being eligible for coverage in the family’s plan, seniors choosing between prescription drugs and other needs, and more businesses dropping employee coverage, Nelson said.
No one wants to go back to a system that denied coverage to 220,000 Nebraskans, the Democratic senator said.
“The American people have a right to know how they would be better off by having this plan repealed and skyrocketing premiums continue into the future,” Nelson said.
If the House is to be taken seriously, it needs to propose an alternative, he said, or its repeal vote will be “seen as a (political) gimmick.”
House Republicans plan to pass a bill next week repealing the health care reform law. But the Democratic majority in the Senate is expected to scuttle the proposal, setting the stage for a long congressional battle over efforts to amend or defund the legislation.
Nelson said he hopes to offer an alternative that would incentivize all Americans to acquire insurance without mandating individual coverage and assessing penalties for those who do not participate. The individual mandate is under attack in the courts.
His proposal would be built around a system of “open and closing enrollment periods” patterned after Medicare prescription drug coverage and most group insurance plans, Nelson said.
“There would be incentives to join the plan (rather than) penalties that require people to be in the plan,” he said.
Nelson condemned the “cavalier attitude” exhibited by some opponents of the health care reform law.
“Throwing it all out would cause a great deal of uncertainty,” he said, and lead to spiraling health care costs and a growing burden on the economy.
“I hope the new Congress will find ways to stop the partisan game-playing, the gotcha politics, the gridlock,” Nelson said.
“It’s time to start working together.”
About half of Americans aged 45 to 70 lack a financial plan to protect themselves against outliving their assets and pay for the rising cost of health care, according to a new survey by the Society of American Actuaries.
About one-third of those surveyed worry about running out of money but only about one in five plans to purchase an annuity or some other form of guaranteed, lifetime income.
Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of those surveyed said they plan to claim Social Security before the age of 70.
“With the challenges in the housing and financial markets over the past few years, coupled with the fact that people are living longer, many baby boomers are finding themselves unprepared to maintain their lifestyle in retirement,” said Anna Rappaport, president of Anna Rappaport Consulting.
Also of note: Only 19 percent of those surveyed plan to insure the extra costs of disability by purchasing long-term care insurance.