Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tennesseans' diagnoses vary on health-care plan

Like many Tennesseans, country singer Gail Davies is still trying to sort out the winners from the losers as a massive health-care overhaul bill speeds toward President Barack Obama's desk.
Davies, a 62-year-old songwriter who made her mark in music four decades ago, said she pays nearly $400 a month for catastrophic health insurance for her husband and herself — double the rate of five years ago. She expects the legislation to expand insurance options, improve access to care, and reduce costs for her family and many others.

"It's time for America to come out of the Dark Ages and start taking care of people's interests," Davies said. "That's what government is supposed to do."

But just as many taxpayers and business owners here argue that the health-care package pushed through Congress by the Democratic Party will spark higher insurance costs, raise taxes and create too much government red tape.

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Chief Executive Allen Howell at Corporate Flight Management, a general aviation company at Smyrna Municipal Airport, said he and other small-business owners "are very confused and not entirely sure" what happens next.

"But I'm pretty sure that over the long haul, it's going to cost us higher taxes. Most of the people in Washington, D.C., don't have a clue what the people trying to make payroll every week (have) to do. I can't print money like they can," Howell said.

The massive legislation — actually a pair of bills — rewrites many of the rules governing hospitals, doctors and insurers, and promises health-care coverage for 32 million Americans who are now uninsured.

Critics say the bill is a grave misstep that will swell the federal deficit.

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