Comparing the Healthcare Reform Proposals


As LIVESTRONG president, Doug Ulman, mentioned in his most recent blog for the Washington Post, it is more important to get healthcare reform right than to get it done fast. But to do this, it is just as important to understand the different policies in each bill and to have your voices heard.

But part of the challenge with understanding healthcare reform is the enormity of the bills and the policies they will enact. The bills can be upwards of 1000 pages. It is no small feat to go through the bills and understand their impact. During this month of August, Congress will take its recess to come home and talk with their constituents. There are many questions to be asked and many answers to be given.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a respectable health policy non-profit organization, launched a website to do side by side comparisons of the various bills. You can search terms of interest such as ?individual mandates? or ?tax changes? and compare how the bills address these issues. You simply click on the topic of interest and click on the different bills and the website will generate a chart for you. This is a great resource for those who want a non-partisan analysis of what each bill really says.

Of all the healthcare reform bills introduced, there are two main bills, the House Tri-Committee bill and the Senate HELP Committee bill, that are receiving the majority of attention. A full side-by-side comparison of these two bills can be found here. The Senate Finance Committee has released some proposal options and it is expected that it will be releasing its reform bill after the August recess. It is likely that the Finance bill will also be one of the major bills to define our new healthcare system. So it will be an important bill to track and analyze.

On the national front, many of us at LIVESTRONG are working with congressional and administration officials to make sure the new healthcare system is effective in both ensuring the health and care of the individual as well as ensuring the stability of the system. And because cancer covers the entire healthcare continuum from prevention and early detection through diagnosis and treatment and ultimately to survivorship and long term care, if you can make the system work for cancer, you can make it work for everything. We encourage you to get involved in the dialogue to make sure that the new system that comes out will work for all Americans.


  1. Bryan says:

    I’m not for any of this. Its too expensive and looking solely at having a healthcare bill while sending the rest of the country into solid debt isn’t smart. I’m also saddened by the attempts to rush this. Its a major change to this country and it seems that having our leadership be able to sit down and read through it carefully would be beneficial. Seems that that many believe its better to have something rather than nothing. Thats wrong.

  2. Storeboy says:

    Bryan, all you have said is the same old tired response of the people who would rather have nothing done. It is reasonable for lawmakers to have a chance to read the bill, but how much more expensive would it be to do nothing (which is what most critics against the bill really want? I suspect you have healthcare and have never had to face the prospect of losing your healthcare or being the unfortunate victim of a seriously costly debilitating disease like some of us and I pray it never happens to you. Can you imagine what would have been Lance Armstrong’s story if he did not have access to good healthcare? That is the prospect of millions of Americans if we do nothing, maybe even you. We have waited long enough, fiddling while our current healthcare system drives our country and industry into bankrupcy.

  3. Warren says:

    I want to commend the Livestrong organization for providing this information. Please continue in this practice, I greatly appreciate it. As the son of a cancer survivor and someone who has lost many family members to cancer I feel it is imperative that the system is brought up to American standards, the best in the world. Let us take our time and get it right.

  4. Larry Johnson442 says:

    I went to the site and it is pdf 48 pages! Didn’t down-load it.

  5. Debra May says:

    I agree with storeboy. The same arguments we are hearing now are the same arguments that were put up against Medicare. How many people today want to do away with that? While the costs of enacting Healthcare reform are huge, the costs to us in dollars in a few years will be astronomical. It is like spending money now to save money later. Americans on average spend 6000/yr. for healthcare. That is double what other people in other industrialized nations spend. The time to act is now!

  6. Jim says:

    I thank Livestrong for providing me with the right information and understanding the healthcare reform a lot better. The options the site gave me helped me to have a more positive and relieved knowledge of what’s to come in the coming months. I hope everyone will check out this site and will do my best to notify my family and friends of this. Again thank you

  7. Buckey says:

    There is much work to be done.

    Cass Sunstein wrote about Junk Lawsuits in Nudge Page 214 (something) 70 billion wasted a year.

    Cancer care has to be a bigger priority.
    As a military Veteran I have been undergoing breast cancer treatment I am 33. I have been in the military since I was 18. I am love all the folks I serve with. But I HATE the treatment for Younger women in a VA hospital. I was so depressed and exhausted from banging my head against the wall.
    The Radiation Oncologist has the IMRT technology because of the VA hospital, he told me this was what I would have. It turns out I have Pulmonary fibrosis and Pneumonitis among other things.
    I have to apply for SSA (I paid into my entire working life, yet I feel ashamed to need it, I am type that would save the person next to me before myself. Lord knows I have helped others get what they need, it is just hard for me to ask for help.

    I finally had to pay for another oncology appointment, First I was acutely aware of the first question ” Where is your Insurance Card”

    I have no other insurance, because of the military and VA I had no other plans

    The oncologist who treats only blood cancers denied my request for a second opinion.
    And the most frightening thing is figuring out I am the one FLYING THE PLANE so to speak.
    I am a nearly finished with my Ph.D medical research Chemical engineering and have had the privilege of working with VEGF-taming treatments

    And I have been reduced to tears because they will not allow me to ask a question, I had to gather my results from biopsy across town.
    I was treated with chemo and to this day the oncology dept has never reviewed or read biopsy report. It is not in the system EMR (are not the panacea they crack them up to be. ) I made them copies of all the reports to place in my records and yet they do not have any record of biopsy.

    They still ask “Do you know the Hormone Receptors are they ER-/+?

    We need to be treated better, and so far everyone I hear cheers the largest public treatment systems
    Medicare & VA.
    VA is not the Model we should follow. Just ask 10 veterans.

  8. Larry says:

    I agree with brian. I don’t understand how anyone would want the government have a roll in their health care decisions. Not to mention that every country that does have a single payer system also has much higher cancer mortality rates. We have the best healthcare system in the world. The only problem with it is cost control. If you look at any program the federal govenment has created cost is never an issue. For example they built a DC visitor center. the cost was suposed to come in under 16 million but ended up costing over 600 million. Are those the people you want making your health care decisions? I for one would rather work with my Doctor to make the best decision for my care without regard for the wishes of some government agency.

  9. RJ says:

    I agree that something needs to be done…Healthcare costs have gotten out of control. I think the answer lies somewhere between the socialistic ideas of our government and where we are now. Perhaps an expansion of the coverage of Medicaid would fix a lot of the problems. No matter what we do, we need to study all the options and models and not rush to fix a problem only to make it worse. Doing something wrong is NOT always better than doing nothing. Do it RIGHT!!!

  10. Dondee says:

    Why speed this “reform” through? The congress, even the President does not entirely understand this bill. Why the rush?

    Has government handled Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid well? These programs are slated to go bankrupt in the not so distant future.

    The poster above mentioned how frustrating the treatment for her has been at her VA hospital…..

    Did you know they will do away with Medicare/Medicaid to help fund this monstrous bill?

    Have you seen the Protocol Map showing the chain of command regarding Nationalized Health Care?

    Have you talked with Canadians about their health care system? I saw a video on this that was quite eye opening. Do you want to be on a list for YOUR cancer care? Do you have MONTHS to wait?

    Changes need to be made to our system, but not the crazy, broad sweeping changes proposed by our Gov’t.

    The changes they are proposing are so that they can be in charge of your life.

    Think about it!

  11. Debroah says:

    I work in the healthcare industry on the business side and I agree that something needs to be done. After hearing of the problems in Canada and the UK I’m not for a single payer government system. Also, in order for empoyers who don’t currently provide coverage do so, their penalties should be similar to the cost of supplying health insurance coverage for their employees otherwise they will just pay the “fine”. In today’s economy it’s hard for a family to purchase good coverage that they can afford – and the costs keep going up! The Medicaid inome limit should be raised. In Georgia the maximum amount a family of two can earn is less than $500 per month to qualify. Who can live on that? They need to keep working and get it right, not just passed.

  12. Bob Sega says:

    Medicare is not the model to follow either. I would rather have my private but when I turned 65 It was either medicare with my company as secondary or none. At one point when I was going for Chemo Medicare said my Diagnosis, Metastatic Prostate cancer with migration to the skeletal stucture did not justify Chemo. I finally got that straightenout but in the meantime the Metastasis increased.I have waded through the new bill to section 205 and what is see is bad for me. Will they provide transportation to the Soylent Green center or do I have to provide my own. Yeah, I almost 70 so should prabably leave rome for someone else.

  13. Linda says:

    Health care reform has nothing to do with helping the 43 million uninsured get health care, included the (12 to 17 million Non-citizens) It has everything to do with the government controlling every aspect of your lives. They can’t run medicare or the VA, whats makes you think they can provide better coverage for the rest of Americans. I am happy with my Kaiser HMO, I don’t like the cost, But I love my doctors and my choices. DO We really want the Government involved in our Health Care, People Wake up!!, The Banks, Cars Company’s, Insurance Industry, 56% of the Nations Home Loans, Cap and Tax. Washington is taking over, Wake Up Sheep!!!

  14. Kim says:

    I agree with Warren, thanks Livestrong for giving us access to information so that we aren’t “sheep.” I’m sure all of you who have strong comments one way or another have read all the materials, right?

  15. Jennifer says:

    The government regulates Medicare and certain state funded healthcares like Medicaid….Do you know how hard it is to get certain therapies and conservative treatments authorized thru these government run insurances??? I’m sorry…being a cancer survivor…I will keep my 2000 out of pocket maximum and be happy with what I have!! I worked hard thru my diagnosis and now to keep the healthcare coverage I have!!!

  16. Jennifer Smith says:

    The Kaiser report is a great tool. Please also research HR676,(single payer). I was in Washington DC on Thursday telling my story as a cancer survivor and advocating for 676. I lived in Canada for 12 years and had excellent health care. It is being sick in the United States (with “insurance”) that is forcing me towards bankruptcy or making the decision to go without my recommended meds or screenings. I believe my life depends on quality health care reform.

  17. Tracy says:

    As a “young” breast cancer survivor and a seasoned solo-practitioner lawyer, I am extremely disappointed at the speed with which we are progressing regarding the healthcare reform proposals. Although I am presently “UNINSURABLE” on my own, I maintain that anything this monumental and sweeping needs careful consideration and every American’s full-albeit abbreviated-attention. (Oh, if only people would educate themselves…) Frankly, some of the materials I have read leave me shaken. I believe affordable healthcare should be available to everyone but we are a long way from figuring out an acceptable way to administer it.

  18. Philip J Lloyd says:

    Why is everyone looking at this issue with the notion that our Health Care System (HCS) is completely broken. I believe we should be looking to make some corrections, adjustments and updates.
    In my short 51 year lifetime I have seen a lot of medicinal progress from diagnosing various illnesses to controling and curing many of them. This is a result of funding, research and a lot of hard work on the part of many people.
    I would ask our gov’t, pharm companies, ins companies and the AMA to secure the things we are doing well and partner in revitalizing those that need adjusting. Passing burdening legistration will only shackle these efforts with legalize and additional costs.

    Philip J Lloyd, CEC

  19. Michael says:

    Larry, if you really think the only thing wrong with our health care system is that is needs cost controls that’s sad. Nearly 50 million people in this country do not have health care. If they are sick they get no treatment or they show up in an emergency room. insurance companies, not medical professionals make most of the decisions, and why is having health care linked to your employer? They should not have any involvement at all.

  20. James L. says:

    I’m really not sure how I feel about health care reform right now. I feel it is my responsibility to have my own insurance. I don’t want someone else to shoulder the burden of my healthcare as much as I have no desire to pay for yours. I certainly don’t want the government involved in my healthcare decisions. We can argue about the intentions all day, but creating policies to fit everyone will certainly harm individuals in far too many circumstances. And like many I’ve heard about the issues with socialized medicine in other countries.

    Yet, I can use google well enough to see most of those claims about government run healthcare in other countries are false. You will always find unhappy people, and complaints about anything, but for the most part what I read is those people love their health care system. Even more though I think of my daughter. She is 3, with an inoperable (non-malignent) brain tumor and NF1. Given the massive amount of Dr. visits and tests she has now, and will going forward she is all but uninsurable thanks to “pre-existing conditions”. I have very good insurance now, but shudder to think what happens if I lose or change my job.

    It’s easy to say people should be responsible and have insurance, I can do it so why can’t you, and paint those without it as irresponsible, or lazy. I’m happy to pay, but I know there are a lot of people out there like my daughter, who are the ones who really need the medical care, who will, if everything stays the same, will be squeezed right out of the system. All in all, if I have to pay more, or wait another month for my yearly checkup to fix that it is beginning to feel like a small price to pay.

  21. Bruce Ewert says:

    Buckey: I am sorry for your issues with the VA. My father-in-law has used them for 40+ years and seems quite happy with them. You might try contacting your Senator and/or Congressman to apply some pointed pressure on your specific issues.

    Larry: You should really check your sources. Here are some facts:
    From OECD data ( The US ranks behind Britain, Finland, Sweden, France, Norway and Australia in cancer deaths per 100,000 population. All of those except Australia have single payer systems. Australia had universal care guaranteed with private insurance available to those who want it.
    Another source, using data fucused on four common cancers ( states: “Coleman and colleagues drew on data from nearly 2 million cancer patients, ages 15 to 99, whose medical information was entered into 101 population-based cancer registries in 31 countries. The patients had been diagnosed with one of four cancers: breast, colon, rectum, or prostate cancers during the years 1990-1994. They were followed up to 1999, with the researchers comparing five-year survival rates.

    The highest survival rates were found in the U.S. for breast and prostate cancer, in Japan for colon and rectal cancers in men, and in France for colon and rectal cancers in women, Coleman’s team reports.

    In Canada and Australia, survival was also high for most cancers.”

    As you can see, we do not have the highest survival rates.

    As for the scare stories about Canadian and British systems, I suggest you talk to people you actually know who have experience with them. And compare their stories to people you know who are not fortunate enough to have health insurance through their employers, or once did but have been rescinded.

    FYI the current poster girl for the evils of the Canadian system, Shona Holmes, did not have a brain tumor but rather a cyst. From the Mayo Clinic article: “Dr. Naresh Patel, neurosurgeon, diagnosed Holmes as having a Rathke’s cleft cyst (RCC)” For a pretty balanced look at this case see:

    Yes, they have problems, but they are not as severe as ours. Everyone can eventually get treatment there–here almost 20% simplt will not unless it is an emergent issue that can be solved in the ER.

    Imagine what Lance went through, as he did not have insurance when he was diagnosed. The CEO of Oakley forced his insurer to add Lance or lose the whole company. Very few have that leverage.

  22. Peter says:

    Bruce,I don’t have any basis to know if your storey about Oakley forcing coverage for Lance is true or not (most insurance companies would lose an account before taking on a high risk patient). However, I do know that if the House Bill being considered now were the law of the land during Lance’s treatment, he would not have been able to secure the treatment he did. He was able to educate himself and seek out the best courese of action. That free choice will disappear. The treatment will be a matter of public policy, not the choice of the patient.

  23. Jeffrey M says:

    First of all, THANK YOU to LIVESTRONG for providing a non-biased picture of the healthcare reform ideas currently out there.

    I currently have a rare type of soft-tissue sarcoma called an MPNST. My private health insurance company which has otherwise been excellent, just denied the chemotherapy my doctor has prescribed. My insurance company denied this, NOT the governmtent. I’ve now been waiting for two months to start the only chance to stop this monster inside me before it metastacizes and kills me. There is no way I can afford this on my own as the cost is $10,000 a month.

    Fortunately, there are still options for me to get treated, but time is running out. I am so thankful to LIVESTRONG who saw a single tweet of mine and contacted me to give me all of my options. For anyone reading this and still wondering if they should donate, please do. LIVESTRONG is a lifesaver for those of us with cancer.

    As for healthcare reform, something needs to be done…NOW. Not this fall, not this year. NOW.

  24. Christian says:

    Look before everyone goes and jumps off the deep end implementing any of these health care reform plans it needs to be tested. I have the perfect test grounds it’s called the “VA Hospitals”. Look I see Veterans wither away before my eyes everyday because the system is broke and has been for years. This would give a perfect chance for them to implement and change the system for the better. Right now it’s all talk and talk is cheep but there is a fine line between implementing a plan that would make the health community a success and or a failure. This would make or break our economy for good if it’s not done correctly!

  25. Joe in Georgia says:

    I lived in (non-European Union) Switzerland for four years. Employers do not offer health insurance. Rather the law states that each resident MUST obtain PRIVATE health insurance. Premiums are based on Age, Sex, State of residence and your deductible. You can’t be turned down for pre-existing conditions. There are accommodations/subsidizes for the poorest. The government does NOT run the health care system.

    (FYI, my total income taxes in Switzerland were actually LESS than what I paid in the States. The Swiss have excellent health care and a very high quality of life.)

    Secondly, I’m self-employed, have private health coverage and was diagnosed with cancer in May. My insurance company can drop me at any time if they see fit. I would not be able to obtain insurance from another company due to my cancer. Even before my cancer, my premiums went up 54% over the past 3 years. I now pay $8500 per year in premiums for my wife and I. Separately, we each have a annual $5,000 max out-of-pocket expense.

    Let’s do SOMETHING now, please!

  26. doogy says:

    Like anything, like any bill, what looks good on paper now may be less than perfect going forward. If so this bill / law can be tweaked. But the cost of doing nothing is enormous, the cost of allowing millions of our citizens not to have medical insurance is not acceptable. Thank you Livestrong–Thank you Kaiser, (I’m a member,) for putting this out there!

  27. Len H says:

    This national healthcare bill will bankrupt this country. There are not enough doctors in this country to treat everyone. This is a fact that the healthcare industry has recognized quite some time ago. Not enough doctors. Also if anyone has read this bill, are you aware that EVERYONE, including all aliens, will be covered. So we would not have enough money to cover just Americans, but all aliens, legal or illegal. How many people want to pay for healthcare for ILLEGAL ALIENS? This gives them MORE incentive to come to this country and mooch off us, not pay taxes and steal the identities of hardworking Americans! Why should someone that pays $1200 or less in taxes per year receive the same healthcare as someone that pays $30k a yr or more in taxes? And now because all doctors will be paid a salary, less people will want to make the medical profession committment that is required. Doctors are leaving the profession in droves already due to the low reimbursement by insurance companies and the government. Many doctors refuse to accept any gov’t reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid. Financially it does not make sense to accept them. Socialized healthcare in other countries is horrible, like Canada. I know Canadians that come to the US for their healthcare and they tell me about how bad it is up there. If you want socialized medicine folks, feel free to move to a socialist country. There is no lock on the door stopping you.

  28. firstchoice says:

    Why doesn’t the Kaiser website compare the potions to our current healthcare system? Is it assuming we have to have a new system? We have the best healtcare professionals, facitlities and availability in the world; why should we think it would be much better and cheaper if our government ran it as they see fit. You may know Americans without health insurance, but do you know Americans that cannot get healthcare if they really needed it? Even non-citizens can go into an emergency facility and get what they need. We are fooling ourselves to think our government can can do a better job, and at less cost.

  29. You are absolutely right, we have to change our way of thinking in total.

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