Politicians and media are tossing around a lot of health care jargon, and it can get confusing. We’ve compiled a crash course to help students navigate this stormy but crucial issue:
- The Democrats utilized a process called reconciliation to pass the health care bill. Reconciliation allowed the House to vote on a jointly amended Senate bill, and it requires only a simple majority, 51 votes, instead of the regular 60 votes in the Senate.
House rules also require parameters to be set for each vote, including how much time will be allocated for debate and what amendments will be allowed. The House implemented what is called a “self-executing rule”; when the House passed the reconciliation rules, it deemed, or assumed, the Senate bill passed. This allowed President Obama to sign the bill into law without a recorded Senate vote on the original bill. The Senate will still debate and vote on the “fixes” to the bill, but the hardest part is over.
Terms to Know:
- Elective abortion: Any abortion case not involving rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
- Executive order: An order issued by the president that instructs executive agencies or clarifies a law passed by Congress. Although constitutionally, executive orders carry the same weight as law, the Supreme Court has ruled that presidents cannot use executive orders to create new laws. Congress can overturn an executive order by passing contradictory legislation or by refusing to provide money to fund the order.
- Excise tax: An indirect tax that sellers must pay to the government. Sellers then roll the tax into the price of the product so buyers actually end up paying for it.
- Hyde Amendment: A provision, not a law, that can be attached to a bill. The amendment bars federal money from being spent on abortions, regardless of circumstance. It only applies to funds allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services by the annual appropriations bill. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment is similar but only prohibits funding for elective abortions.
- Medicaid: Federal and state health insurance plan for low-income people, including children, elderly, disabled and those eligible to receive federally assisted income, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), according to www.ssa.gov.
- Medicare: A health insurance program managed by the federal government for people 65 or older, younger than 65 with certain disabilities and people of any age with permanent kidney failure, according to www.medicare.gov. Recipients must be U.S. residents for at least five years.
- Premium: The amount of money paid each month by an individual or an employer for health insurance.
- Public Option: The term being used for the proposed government-run insurance system. Theoretically, a public option would be similar to the Medicare system already offered to older adults. Individuals would pay directly into a national insurance system that would then provide coverage in the same way a private insurance provider would.