Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DINOs Strike in Finance

By now you have all heard the dismal results of the votes on the public option in the Senate Finance Committee.

DINO2 For weeks now it's seemed more and more evident that instead of significant, meaningful healthcare reform, we are--if we're lucky--going to wind up with something akin to health insurance reform. These reforms will be pretty unassailable (who could oppose making it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, for instance?) but a far cry from what just a couple months ago seemed not just possible but probable--reform that included a robust, affordable public option accessible to all Americans.

Why has the healthcare reform battle disintegrated so rapidly? Certainly the seemingly endless barrage of right wing lies and downright insanity over the summer didn't help. Neither did the White House's lackadaisical approach to countering it. But at the end of the day, real reform--the public option, considered today by the Finance Committee--should have had the votes it needed to pass. Instead it failed by fifteen votes to eight, with five Democrats voting against it.

Four out of five major committees have delivered in one form or another what 65 percent of the American public wants: a government-run public health insurance option. President Obama supports a public option, the majority of medical profession does, and without it there is no way healthcare costs can be brought down in any significant way.

And yet our Democrat-controlled Congress can't get its act together. Today, five Democratic senators rejected the most progressive version of the public option to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee...

Inserted from <The Nation>

While it was not pretty, it was not unexpected.  In fact, I was surprised that only three Bush Dog DINOS rejected the the Schumer version.  Shortly the bill will pass out of the Finance Committee and onto the Senate floor, where I expect a lot of bark, but no bite.  The real battle will be waged in the Conference Committee.

Robert Creamer thinks we’ll win that one.

public-option In a surprising vote Tuesday, ten Democrats voted to add a public option to the most conservative of the five health insurance reform bills working their way through Congress. That's just two votes short of passage.

This robust support for the public option -- in what most observers consider the most conservative committee in the Senate -- signals a sea change in Congressional opinion toward the public option. The odds are now very high that some form of public health insurance option will be included on the final bill when it emerges from a House-Senate Conference Committee later this fall and is ultimately passed by Congress.

The three bills that have passed House Committees, and the Senate Health Committee bill, all contain a public option. And increasingly it appears that the strongest form of public option will come out of the House... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

Yesterday I promised to provide you with the names of the DINO scum who sold out the American people for corporate cash.  Here is the Hall of Shame:

Max Baucus, MT (202) 224-2651

Kent Conrad, ND (202) 224-2043

Blanche Lincoln,AR (202) 224-4843

Ben Nelson, NE (202) 224-6551

Thomas Carper, DE (202) 224-2441

I’ll leave what to do with the telephone numbers I looked-up to your judgment.  I called them all.

Whatever comes out, whatever passes, and whatever Obama signs into law, our job has just begun.  Even if we get the best features of all five bills in the final package, it’s still a only a beginning.

In the words of Michael Moore:

moore_michael Now we know why they've stopped calling this health care reform, and started calling it insurance reform. The current bills advancing in Congress look more like rearranging the deck chairs on the insurance Titanic than actually ending our long health care nightmare.

Some laudable elements are in various versions of the bills, especially expanding Medicaid, cutting the private insurance-padding waste of Medicare Advantage, and limiting the ability of the insurance giants to ban and dump people who have been or who ever will be sick.

But, overall, the leading bills and the President's proposal are, like the dog that didn't bark, more notable for what is missing.

Here are 13 problems with the current health care bills (partial list):

1. No cost controls on insurance companies. The coming sharp increases in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, etc. will quickly outpace any projected protections from caps on out-of-pocket costs.

2. Insurance companies will continue to be able to use marketing techniques to cherry-pick healthier, less costly enrollees.

3. No restrictions on insurance denials of care that insurers don't want to pay for. In case you missed it, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee uncovered data on the California Department of Managed Care website recently that found six of the biggest California insurers rejected, on annual average, more than one-fifth of all claims every year since 2002.

4. No challenge to insurance company monopolies, especially in the top 94 metropolitan areas, where one or two companies dominate, severely limiting choice and competition.

5. A massive government bailout for the insurance industry through the combination of the individual mandate requiring everyone not covered to buy insurance, public subsidies which go for buying insurance, no regulation on what insurers can charge, and no restrictions on their ability to decide what claims to pay.

6. No controls on drug prices. The White House deal with Big Pharma, which won bipartisan approval in the Senate Finance Committee, opposes the use of government leverage to negotiate real cost controls on inflated drug prices.

7. No single standard of care. Our multi-tiered system remains with access to care still determined by ability to pay.

8. Tax on comprehensive insurance plans. That will encourage employers to reduce benefits, shift more costs to employees, promote proliferation of bare-bones, high-deductible plans, and lead to more self-rationing of care and medical bankruptcies.

9. Not universal. Some people will remain uncovered, including those exempted, and undocumented workers, denying them treatment, exposing everyone to communicable diseases and inflating health care costs.

10. No definition of covered benefits.

11. No protection for our public safety net. Public hospitals and clinics will continue to be under-funded and a dumping ground for those the private system doesn't want. Public monies going to hospitals serving low-income communities will be shifted to subsidies for private insurance.

12. Long delay in implementation. Many reforms don't go into effect until 2013.

13. Nothing changes in basic structure of the system; health care remains a privilege, not a right.

We may be slow learners, but the rest of the industrial world has figured it out: Universal, single-payer or national health care systems. That's the reason why all those other countries cover everyone, have better patient outcomes, cause no one to declare bankruptcy or lose their homes because of medical bills, and spend less than half per capita on health care than we do… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

As usual, Moore has pulled no punches and backed up his conclusion with superb analysis.  He also backed up my conclusion.  This is only the beginning of a very long struggle.  So put on your hip waders.  We have a huge swamp to drain.


Sue said...

it's so easy to understand Tom. But the insurance companies greed for huge profits won't win this time, I have faith WE will win finally!!

Edwin said...


We have 51 who have declared support for the public option. The remaining 9 are betraying the platform we promised the American people.

You must blame them for our problems, because that is the truth. For as long as we focus on Republicans disloyal democrats will get away with their treachery and set us up for another 1993.

Has everyone forgotten the whole purpose of the filibuster?

If Congress is doing something that the majority of the people oppose, then a minority in the Senate can appeal to the people for help. Of course we know what happened when Republicans pulled this on Clinton without the actual support of the people.

All the filibuster folks need a reality check, because when people are asked if they approve of giving people the option to buy medicare, they support it by 65% margins. They also trust Obama vs Republicans in Congress on Health Care 52% vs 25%.

Call their bluff! All in!

The disloyal 9 are listed here:

the walking man said...

My opinion is up but I am snagging the five phone numbers from you Tom.

Annette said...

I agree with Edwin.. we have to call their bluff and force the filibuster. I have said that all along. If we force the rethugs to filibuster.. they will fold, because they won't stand for it to happen.. not with the public so behind this reform... the rethugs will lose big time.. of that I am positive and of that they know.. they have seen the writing on the wall, they read these polls.. I would bet when it comes to the final bill, there will be some R's voting for it.. They can't afford to all vote against it this time..

Hill said...

Waders on.

Jo said...

Tom, you should have added a sixth number to that list -- Barack Obama. You folks elected him on one of his campaign promises:

"I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year."

Where is he? He seems to be missing in action. He's more concerned about the 2016 Olympics in Chicago. He should be spending his time slapping those five Democrats up the side of the head.

You folks elected the wrong person. I have never liked Obama. I was right about Edwards (remember?) and I'm right about Obama. He is going to keep letting you folks down. He speechifies, but at the end of the day, he does absolutely nothing. He's more interested in being a celebrity than in being President of the United States.

Randal Graves said...

A huge swamp to drain? That sounds like treason! I'm calling the military!

TomCat said...

Sue, faith + commitment = win.

Welcome, Edwin. I agree. The level of public supports flies in the face of Repuglicans and DINOs.

Thanks, Mark. Use them well.

Annette, they're waiting for a cave-in, because weaklings like Harry Read have taught them to do so.

Thanks, Hill. We'll need them.

Josie, would you have preferred McConJob? He's staying above the fray. I think that's a mistake. He should be in the trenches, but I'd bet that he's waiting for the Conference Committee.

Yes, Lieutenant. Send the Sergeant after Randal. ;-)

Vigilante said...

Thanks for the telephone numbers.

TomCat said...

YVW, Vig. Use them well.