What is Actually In the Senate Health Reform Bill

Here are some good resources for understanding the soon-to-be-passed legislation.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The Senate healthcare reform bill has been clearing its hurdles this week, making final passage by Christmas Eve morning likely. I wrote Monday that I thought very few people actually know what is in the bill and how it will affect them. Since then, a few news outlets have tried to explain the legislation and its consequences. As your faithful blogger, I've looked around and found what might be most useful to you and am passing it on. (Here at Thomas Jefferson Street, we pride ourselves on being full-service bloggers!)

ABC News has a "frequently asked questions" list here, which is a little light on the details, but at least it's understandable. The best detailed explanation I've found so far (even though you may not agree with all of her opinions) comes from Maggie Mahar at healthbeatblog.org. She ends part three of her series on the Senate bill with this quote:

Recently I quoted Dr. Donald Berwick, president of the Institute for Health Care Improvement: "The best healthcare is the very, very least healthcare that we need. The best hospital bed is empty not full . . . The best CT-scan, the one we don't need." This is the lesson that Americans need to learn—as quickly as possible. If they don't, healthcare reform will sink under its own weight, wrecked by over-treatment and over-spending.

The best hospital bed is an empty one—not because someone who was sick was turned away, but because that person was healthy enough not to need a bed in the first place. Can't we all agree on that?