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Law professor explains actual text of health care resolution

A presentation at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law summarized the health care reform resolution in its entirety, giving students and faculty members a better understanding of the issue.

James G. Hodge, professor of health law and ethics, gave the presentation in a law classroom Monday afternoon, looking closely at the legislation and its negative and positive effects.

Hodge called the discussion a “crushing session,” meaning that it covered a lot of information in a short amount of time.

“What’s right about health care presently?” Hodge asked at the outset of the presentation.

Currently, 85 percent of Americans are insured, the quality of health care services is the highest of all industrialized countries and state-of-the-art technology and pharmaceutical drugs are available in the U.S., he said.

Hodge then posed a second question to the audience —“What’s wrong with health care?”

Billions of dollars are wasted each year and the national cost of health care is increasing exponentially, he said. Forty-six to 50 million Americans currently lack insurance coverage and millions more are underinsured and at risk, he said.

The quality of care for those who are underinsured or uninsured is abysmal, Hodge said, and health care costs are unnecessarily high for everyone.

“High costs directly contribute to the lack of insurance, lack of access, poor quality and poor health outcomes,” he said.

After the passage of health care reform, health providers will be prohibited from discriminating on pre-existing conditions, health status, gender or income, Hodge said.

When the legislation is enacted in six months, people 27 and younger may remain on their parents’ insurance plans. Previously, 21 was the cutoff age for most insurance plans.

Hodge said that two of the highlights of the bill are that insurers will be barred from excluding children with pre-existing conditions, and they can’t cancel policies to avoid paying claims when the insured get sick.

But there are losers as well as winners in the battle over health care, Hodge said.

“Uninsured and underinsured (people) are totally winners here,” he said, as well as drug companies and health care providers.

The main losers are illegal immigrants and the wealthy, he said. Illegal immigrants will not be able purchase health insurance under the resolution, and there will be significant new tax burdens for the wealthy.

Also, the national debt may not necessarily be aided by the bill’s passage, he said.

“The act will cost around $950 billion over the next 10 years, but will reduce the deficit by $138 billion over the same time period,” he said.

Ira Ellman, a law professor and one of Hodge’s colleagues, sat in on the presentation although he is well versed in the subject.

“I thought [Hodge] might know some stuff I didn’t know,” Ellman said. “I came in with a fairly high level of knowledge, but I did learn some things.”

Daniel Parris, a political science student, said he attended the presentation to become aware of an issue he doesn’t know a lot about.

“A lot of people are uninformed. People make judgments and accusations about things most of us don’t really know about,” he said.

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