Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley opened a conference call with reporters today by describing his life right now as "all health care, all the time." The Democrat from Waterloo serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that’s taking up the massive health care reform bill this afternoon.
Braley says he’s spent the past several days working on plans to improve the bill. "Foremost among them is to improve the performance of Medicare – and in direct relation to that – the performance of any public plan," Braley said.
The plan House Democrats unveiled this week would make the federal government responsible for ensuring that all Americans have access to an affordable insurance plan. Braley was asked if private insurance companies would be able to survive the competition provided by a public government run system. "The harsh reality is the reason why we have nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance is because the private health insurance market has not been able to meet those needs," Braley said. "Many states, including Iowa, have a very limited number of private insurance plans that are available. Two companies make up 80-percent of the private insurance market in Iowa. In some states, one company has a monopoly on the private insurance market."
It’s believed the House Democratic plan would cost about $1.5 trillion over 10 years. A different health care reform bill is under consideration in the Senate.