Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Public Option: Improvements Needed

Harry Reid demonstrated that his own voters  can cow him more than the GOP.  Progressive pressure has paid off.

insurancecare Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, long a target for the ire of progressives given his reluctance to express support for including a public health-insurance plan in the Senate's health-care reform bill, today surprised reporters with his announcement that the final Senate bill will contain a public option.

States will be permitted to opt out of the plan via their state's legislative process -- an escape clause, if you will, for a handful of Democratic senators who are less than keen on the notion of a public plan.

"I believe that a public option can achieve the goal of bringing meaningful reform to our broken system," Reid said, "will protect consumers, keep insurers honest, and ensure competition. And that's why we intend to include it in the bill will be submitted to the Senate."

Reid has been under relentless pressure from progressives to craft a bill containing a public insurance plan just as he gears up for what is expected to be a tough re-election campaign for 2010. Just last week, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a television ad targeting Reid that asked, "Is Harry Reid strong enough?"

Most striking is that Reid's decision to include the public option assures the lack of a single Republican vote for health-care reform in the Senate, despite months of wrangling to get at least one -- that of Maine's Olympia Snowe... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Alternet>

This surprised me.  I was hearing that Obama wanted to cave-in to Queen Olympia.  I’m glad it worked out this way.  As far as I’m concerned, Snowe can take a long flying #&%* off a short pier.  So how did we come from about to cave in to here?

chuckschumer This evening I spoke with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was in that infamous Thursday night meeting with President Obama and other Senate leaders--and who has been one of the most persistent advocates of a public option on Capitol Hill. As Schumer explains it, the disagreement between the White House and Senate wasn't substantive so much as it was tactical: The White House had its doubts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could really get 60 votes for a public option with an opt out for states.

"The President listened very carefully," Schumer said in an interview moments ago. "He wanted to make sure that the strategy upon which we were embarking had the ability to carry through."

Schumer has been at the center of the fight over the public option from the earliest days of the health care debate--always there to pull it back from the brink when it at times seemed on the verge of collapse. This situation was no different. After the Thursday meeting, four sources in different Democratic offices told me that the White House had suggested they believed a strategy of pursuing Sen. Olympia Snowe's preferred compromise--a triggered public option--might be an easier path to 60 votes. In the end, though, Schumer and the rest of leadership seem to have prevailed upon President Obama that they've picked the right strategy.

"I think substantively the White House probably preferred a stronger public option than a trigger," Schumer said. "We talked about this for a while in leadership and the White House wanted to hear our thoughts--and when they heard them they thought that this was the right strategy to get our caucus together."

Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President stands behind Reid as he builds support for the public plan… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

To be honest, this plan is not everything we wanted, but it’s better than nothing.  However, there are several things that can be improved.  First, this bill has no restrictions against insurance companies raising rates based on age.  For the rest, Rachel Maddow interviewed my Senator, Ron Wyden.  Here it is:

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phil said...

This is a joke, and I can't seem to understand how this qualifies as "a public option". More like medicare re-deux.

the walking man said...

It should come out of committee open to anyone who wants to purchase their health insurance from a government run plan. If there is no teeth in it to draw people away from private insurance they still will control the market and the profit stream since this already bought and paid for congress does no have the guts for real insurance industry reform and regulation.

Break up the monopolies then they can tell me they are not bought off.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

TC! I think the 'public option opt out' bill is disappointing... like yourself, I would like to think progress is being made here, yet, it seems what we have here is an option to wait and see. :-)

Sue said...

frankly I'm relieved. Now we watch the process go forward and pray in the end the bill will be better, stronger, and just what the president told us it would be. Have Faith!

Marva said...

The State Opt Out made me think of how the population will shift from the know-nothing opt-out states to the intelligent keep-the-plan states.

Which leads me to wish that the census would follow the mad dash to opt out. Then, the House of Representatives will take a member or two away from idiot states and give them to the smart states.

Unfortunately the 2010 census is too soon to affect a change in distribution.

If nothing else, the legislators in the smart states will see the writing on the wall if they try to take away their citizen's right to affordable health care.

MadMike said...

I think this is a beginning. It is a public option. Not to the extent I would like to see, but then again I want to see Single Payor. Of course that won't happen for about 50 years or so unless someone declares the Republican Party a threat to public health and welfare.

Robert Rouse said...

I have been reading on various sites that people are considering moving should their own state "opt out". I told them that one reason was not enough. Find a state that sticks with the public option that also has medical marijuana - or like Massachusetts - has decriminalized pot.

We just have to learn to multi-task. :)

gabrielle said...

This is absurd. People have married and divorced to qualify for health care, they have crossed the Canadian border to buy medications produced in this country at a lower price, they have flown to other countries to receive dental work and necessary procedures (medical tourism) and now will have to move their residences to a state that offers the "public" option. It isn't very public and it isn't really an option. It's a sell out.

As Rachel so aptly points out, this is clearly a recipe for failure on all fronts.

Hope you are feeling better soon, Tomcat.

Brother Tim said...

I disagree here, Tom, a crappy bill is NOT better than no bill at all. I wanted single-payer, and a strong public option is my ONLY compromise.

I have to laugh when I hear that worn out sound-byte, 'keep the insurers honest'. Like they were ever honest in the first place. {sheesh}

TomCat said...

I see all the disagreement here is over whether or not option with opt out is enough, as it should be. As I understand it, states would have to allow it for at least a year before opting out. That would put them in the place of taking the insurance coverage away from thousands of their citizens.