Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, spoke at today’s health care summit with the president in Washington, D.C. Harkin address criticism that they need to start over and develop a new health care bill. Harkin says they spent one year crafting this bill.
Harkin says the senate bill contains over 147 “distinct Republican amendments.” He says the house bill contains nine out of 10 of the key health insurance reform elements, with the only one that missing is the health savings accounts. Harkin also addressed the criticism that they’re trying to do too much. He says they cannot take an incremental approach and approve insurance reform, without also addressing the other aspects of the problem.
Harkin says it “all hangs together” and cited states who tried to do health insurance reform in the 90’s without doing anything else and it didn’t work because premiums skyrocketed. He says New Hampshire, Washington and Kentucky were forced to repeal their reforms. Harkin says the U.S. has passed laws to end segregation in many areas, but they still allow it in health care.
Harkin says, “That’s why insurance reform is so vital, because the health insurance industry in this country is based on a flaw. And the flaw is, their ratings are based on segregating people because of their health.” He says any time he hears the word “pool” he thinks of segregation and segregating people based on their health.
“I think it’s time to end that,” Harkin says. Before his remarks, Harkin read from a letter he says he received from Raymond Smith of Buffalo, Iowa, as an example of the problem with insurance costs. Smith is a farmer who said his monthly insurance premium is increasing 25%. It will cost Smith just over $1,500 a month.