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Health care reform - a crime finally criminalized

March 23, 2010 - Mike Maneval

The U.S. House passed the Senate version of the health care reform bill Sunday evening, and President Barack Obama signed it into law today. The measure now returns to the Senate, which through the process of reconciliation will further finesse the bill.

In the past few months I've examined some of the package's flaws, most frequently the consumer mandate but also the medical devices tax. But the mammoth legislation includes many proposals worthy of support and on the occasion of its passage, I've decided to focus for now on one of the best, the ban on denial of coverage for "pre-existing conditions."

Under the new legislation, a practice under which policy-holders, who had already paid the insurance companies for health care services, could be denied the services for which they had paid will be recognized as illegal. I'm loathe to say "made illegal," because the practice of accepting payment for a good or service and then attempting to keep the payment without delivering the good or service was always a crime - theft - regardless of whether our political establishment chose to recognize it as such.

The penalties under the legislation for these craven acts of theft still fall far short of what is truly appropriate. But, this is still a step in the right direction. And it's a step Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says attempting to roll back - as many Republican legislators in advocating the repeal of each and every provision of legislation are - would be a "distraction" he is not interested in repealing.



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