What's really in the Senate health care bill?
The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" -- better known as the Senate health care overhaul bill -- is jam packed with scores of nuggets many of us don't know they're trying to slip in. But, these "provisions" are certain to affect consumers.
It's no secret that politicians try to tack their current pet project onto any bill within arm's length. But, a flip through some of the current 2,074-page bill sheds light on a few things lawmakers think needs overhauling.
A few examples are:
Time off for lactating
Under this bill, nursing mothers would receive an unpaid "reasonable break time" in the first year after giving birth. They would also be given a private place, (that's not the bathroom) to use a breast pump. Companies with less than 50 employees would be exempt since this would pose "an undue hardship."
Who's idea is this? Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who in June introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act and is promoting breast feeding partly as a way to cut health costs. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states already have protections for nursing mothers in the workplace.
It's tough to be a teen
Or, maybe not if some in the Senate have their way and get a $400 million provision passed that would help teens make the transition from "kid" to adult. The money would be used to establish sexual education programs, but it can also be used to boost kid's self-esteem. Seems that plenty of out-of-work full-fledged adults could use some self-esteem boosting, too.
Other programs could include promoting relationship dynamics, friendships, dating, romantic involvement, marriage and family interaction." Roughly $10 million of funding would establish "innovative youth pregnancy prevention strategies" in high teen birth rates areas.
Who's idea is this? The Personal Responsibility Education for Adulthood Training funding was approved as an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, joined Democrats in passing it.
See through drugs
Pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) take center stage in the nation's health care system. Administering drug plans for more than 210 million insured Americans, they negotiate discounts on prescription drugs with retail pharmacies and wholesalers and also get rebates from drug makers.
Who's idea is this? Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the Senate Finance Committee inserted language into its health bill to force the PBMs, to disclose details of those negotiations -- including how much of the savings were passed on to consumers.
Cantwell's position is that transparency would help lower drug prices and consumers could benefit greatly from the discounts that PBMs are helping to negotiate.
Sound off: You play politician. If you were writing a version of the health care reform bill, what programs would you include? And which ones would you cut?