Tuesday, September 8, 2009

As the Speech Approaches

Discussion of a health care compromise that does not include the public option continues to circulate in Washington.

baucus As President Obama and top advisers drafted his eagerly awaited health care speech to Congress, new details emerged Monday about fees and coverage limits under a proposal being floated by the chairman of a crucial Senate committee.

The proposal from the lawmaker, Senator Max Baucus, who heads the Finance Committee, would impose new fees on some sectors of the health care industry, but none on individuals, to help offset initial costs estimated at $880 billion over 10 years, according to officials familiar with the outline.

The plan, circulating among some committee members of both parties, would also offer the option of lower-cost insurance, with protection only against the costs of catastrophic illnesses, to those 25 and younger. In addition, it would provide basic Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income people who are currently ineligible for the program, but the benefits would be less comprehensive than standard Medicaid.

Mr. Baucus, Democrat of Montana, will try on Tuesday to win support from the three Republicans and two other Democrats on his committee with whom he has been deliberating for months. Ultimately, however, he will need a majority of the committee’s 23 members, several of whom are resentful at being excluded…

Inserted from <NY Times>

I personally think the idea stinks.  Medicaid with less comprehensive benefits  means reduced health care for the poor.  Also it provides a federal mandate to states, already cash-strapped, to provide the Medicaid with no guarantee of funding adequate to cover it.  I also think that Baucus giving Republicans an even (three to three)role in negotiating a health care proposal in a Finance  Committee with a strong Democratic majority was an act of either pure insanity or pure corruption.  If Americans wanted Republicans to have an even say, they would not have voted so many of them out of office.  However Obama’s speech in Cincinnati yesterday left some reason or hope.

Obama-Cincinnati In a combative Labor Day speech, President Obama said that the healthcare debate had gone on too long and accused opponents of spreading lies meant to convince Americans that his proposed overhaul would cruelly deny care to the elderly.

The president, speaking at an AFL-CIO picnic, said that "special interests" were determined to "scare the heck out of people."

"I've got a question for all these folks who say, you know, we're going to pull the plug on Grandma and this is all about illegal immigrants -- you've heard all the lies," Obama said. "I've got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? What's your answer? What's your solution?

"And you know what? They don't have one."...

...He said he wanted to curb rising premiums, bar insurance companies from denying coverage to sick people and create a new marketplace that would offer reasonably priced coverage.

But his overriding message in Cincinnati was that healthcare discussions need to end. In making that case, he was rejecting a Republican suggestion that he "reset" healthcare negotiations and start anew.

With about 20,000 people listening in and outside the pavilion, Obama said "every debate at some point comes to an end. At some point, it's time to decide. At some point, it's time to act. Ohio, it's time to act and get this thing done."

Obama's appearance before the union crowd was a delicate one. In any number of ways, the White House has signaled it was willing to compromise on the "public option" -- a government-run program that would compete with private insurers -- rather than let a healthcare bill that includes such a plan collapse.

But labor officials have made clear that they don't want the president to bargain away the public option.

Last week, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumka said the union would not back a healthcare bill without the public option.

The union president, John J. Sweeney, appeared on stage before Obama's arrival and called for a "proud public option to bring down costs and keep the insurance companies honest."

Another guest speaker pressed that point. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told the crowd that Congress would pass a healthcare bill "with a strong public option."

But in his speech, Obama did little to clarify matters. He reiterated that he favors a public option but stopped short of an unequivocal statement he would veto any healthcare bill that lacks one. "I continue to believe that a public option within the basket of insurance choices would help improve quality and bring down costs," he said.

That was enough to satisfy some union leaders. Trumka said in an interview afterward: "I take him at face value. He said he was going to fight for the public option. We're excited about that, and we're going to help him."…

Inserted from <LA Times>

To be honest, I no longer have a dog in this hunt.  By the time whatever Congress does takes effect, I’ll be on Medicare anyway.  So my opinion has nothing to do with what I want for me.  I know from personal experience what it is to watch my health deteriorate due to the inability to afford either health coverage or medical care.  I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.  Universal  health care without a public option is nothing but welfare for Big Insurance.


the walking man said...

I want health care reform not health insurance reform. Take all for profit insurance companies off the table and relegate them to a secondary provider status with taxed benefits.

Annette said...

I too have Medicare so have no dog in this hunt..but have been in the same place.. my health got terrible waiting for the day it kicked in with my SS and it has been a struggle. I don't wish that on anyone else.

We actually need both, health insurance reform and health care reform.. When Al Franken was speaking to the wing nuts at the State Fair the other day, that was what he pointed out that everyone missed..Switzerland has regulated insurance companies...not a public option.. if you listen to the clip of him, he states that.

Everyone keeps overlooking the bill from the HELP committee that Ted Kennedy helped write..Why? The CBO scored it at $600 billion.. it has a public option and it is covers 98%, and it is a good bill.. With 160 republican amendments it should be considered bipartisan, what's the problem with it.. I call that one Teddy Care or the Kennedy Bill and I think it should be the one everyone should be pushing.. yet NO ONE is talking about it... What the heck is the problem.. why is everyone ignoring it?

TomCat said...

Mark, I agree. A single payer system, like Canada's would be best.

Annette, you clearly understand how I feel. I fully agree that the Kennedy version is far superior the whatever submissive six in Finance will produce. The media has covered only the GOP reinventing Kennedy as a milque toast bipartisan.

Hill said...

"Universal health care without a public option is nothing but welfare for Big Insurance."

Truer words have never been spoken.

And I agree 100% with what the walking man said.

We must have health care reform.

p.s. Great blog you have here!


TomCat said...

Thanks Hill. I was quite impressed with your blog as well and feel awed with your video skills. You're followed, commented and blog rolled. :-)

ivan said...

I meant to exactly quote President Obama on this, but Hill has it on.

Universal health care without a public option is nothing but welfare for Big Insurance

Yes, medicare as health insurance for people and not the insurance companies themselves.

Brother Tim said...

I'm with you Tom. By the time anything would kick in, I'll be on Medicare. I'm worried about my fellow Americans who AREN'T in the top 1%.

As for his Labor Day speech: He seems to be getting stronger, although I still sense some pandering to the right-wing. He needs to show some commitment and start pandering to those that got him his job.

TomCat said...

Ivan, Hill was quoting me, not Obama. That was the last line in the post. :-)

Brother, I fully agree.