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AdLib On September - 6 - 2009

healthcareYipe! An article on the AP this morning should cause any supporter of a  public plan and those anticipating that Pres. Obama would come out strong for it in his speech to Congress, some pause and concern:

White House: public health care plan is negotiable

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press Writer 2 hrs 18 mins ago

WASHINGTON – White House officials said Sunday a government health insurance option is negotiable, signaling a potential compromise on an issue that President Barack Obama‘s liberal supporters consider do-or-die.

As Obama prepares for a Wednesday night speech to Congress in a risky bid to salvage his top domestic priority, political adviser David Axelrod said a public plan is not the core issue in the health care debate. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs danced around a question about whether Obama would veto a bill without the public option. The president “believes the public option is a good tool,” said Axelrod, who joined with Gibbs in a one-two punch on the Sunday talk shows. “It shouldn’t define the whole health care debate, however.”

Gibbs called the government plan a valuable tool. But asked if Obama would reject legislation that didn’t include it, he responded: “We are not going to prejudge where the process will be.” “I doubt we are going to get into heavy veto threats” in the president’s speech, Gibbs added. Gibbs said Obama will refocus the debate on the benefits of overhauling the system: more security and lower costs for the majority of people who have health insurance, and new ways to help self-employed people and small businesses get coverage.

“People will leave that speech knowing where he stands,” said Gibbs. He said Obama is considering offering his own health care legislation, instead of letting Congress sort out all the details.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090906/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_care_overhaul

I am simply bewildered by what appears to be a continuation of putting political calculation ahead of principle. Pres. Obama campaigned passionately about the need for a public plan and now, when that commitment is most needed, he makes it sound like an unnecessary luxury.

I just responded to Nellie with my respect and appreciation for Pres. Obama on many issues which is why that creeping feeling that he is willing to compromise the heart of Health Care reform makes me feel so bad.

He is in the DC bubble, maybe all around him (especially DLCer Rahm Emannuel) are convincing him that signing a weak and relatively ineffective health care reform bill is better than standing on principle and fighting for what’s right (and losing if necessary), that liberals will eventually get over it and Pres. Obama will be able to claim victory on Health Care reform.

Meanwhile, the reality is that premiums, co-pays and prescription prices will continue to soar without a public option. Even saying that a public option is unnecessary is pretty outrageous, co-ops have been proven to be ineffective in general in bringing costs down and if that’s what Pres. Obama is willing to settle for, he will disappoint and discourage a majority of his supporters.

There is one last theory that I used to believe in more than I do at this moment. Perhaps the game is to only appear as if the public option doesn’t matter so the heated rhetoric chills then have the Congress swiftly pass it and he can sign it into law. There is a logic and strategy to that but in light of the compromises on the Stimulus Bill, I just don’t know if that’s quite as likely to be the case.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

25 Responses so far.

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  1. KevenSeven says:

    You know what is killing us?

    The fact that the reactionaries know that the Dems will take anything they can get.

    As long as the Dems can say they have passed a reform package, they will vote for it.

    The Dems would vote for a Blue Dog if it could be passed off as reform.

    • KQuark says:

      I think you are right on this one K7. The “Blue Cross” Dems and conservative Dems will benefit from any bill in their districts and states at the detriment to everyone else.

      The new Baucus bill is a fucking double whammy. It not only does not have the public option it drastically reduces subsidies. Those are the two things to keep you eyes on and he made both worse. Instead of current bills where 10% of someone’s income would be the most families would pay up to $88,000/year family income. The Bauchus gang of six bill will be up to 13% of income. That’s over $11,000 a year for a family making $88,000. The reason is two-fold to drop the price tag with some cosmetics but mostly to pay for a higher priced system with no public plan.

      I should say that being said we will never end up with the Baucus bill. Too many House Dems will never vote for it. It just draws my ire that he’s negotiating backward.

    • AdLib says:

      Depends on which Dems you’re talking about. The Senate Dems, yes but I doubt the House Dems will approve anything that doesn’t have a Public Option in it.

      And the Dems who rallied behind Pres. Obama to put him in office to, among other things, effect change in Health Care with a Public Plan as he promised in his campaign, would be profoundly discouraged if he turned his back on them.

      In the end, I don’t think he will sign a bill that doesn’t have a public plan. Health Care Reform will become a new Reconstruction without it, ineffective and a failure that falls apart.

      It’s not better to pass any Health Care Bill if it self-destructs down the line, it would damage the Dem label severely. Unlike Corporate execs, Dems have to look down the road instead of just to the next quarter or election.

      • KQuark says:

        Two big hypotheticals for someone who does not like hypotheticals. If Dems do not pass a bill with a public option and if progressives were smart we would throw primary battles from the left at the congresspeople that resisted the public plan. That’s the way the right fortified their base in congress.

        But alas progressives being what they are will just be discouraged and vote for third parties that will never win so the right wing will gain ground. Even congresspeople that fought for the public plan will be caught in the crossfire.

        My big point is no matter if the public plan is even attached to the bill now it’s still not progressive enough. Like SS and Medicare future legislation to make them into the progressive entities they are today will take more than on election cycle.

      • nellie says:

        I agree AdLib. There is so much political capital riding on this reform, for the president and the congress. I think we’ll get something real.

  2. Questinia says:

    Icky-poo. Too many numbers and statiscles on this thread!

    But, this may embolden the insurance companies to hike up our skirts a bit more for the final gotcha.

    • AdLib says:

      Funny that you say that because 73% of people who represent the top 20% of those in a 35% bracket, typically respond 52% of the time by giving a 7-8 out of 10 rating to 6 out of 7 polls that ask whether there are too many numbers or statistics in blog articles.

      And this is the case 99% of the time.

  3. Kalima says:

    Not knowing accurately enough about all the ins and out of the proposed HCR, I still think that it is imperative that the President should not buckle to any pressure regarding the public option, I thought that it was one of the most important parts of the reforms, the freedom of choice.

    Personally I would love to take the “Blue Dog Dems” to a secluded corner and whack them across their thick heads, they should be ashamed of themselves.

  4. tyler-durden says:

    imho:
    1. it appears the repubs are pushing for a “triggered” plan. if rates don’t come down, a public option will be executed. THIS IS BOGUS. leaving the ins. co’s to control their own costs simply means they will be testing how much they can get away with before the hammer drops.

    2. the public option MUST be included at this stage of reform. the fact that we are not simply expanding medicare enrollment to ALL CITIZENS right now is already enough of a concession to insurance co’s. no one HAS to choose a p.o., but those who are sick of their insurance currently SHOULD be offered a way out.

    3. we obviously must wait until something final is actually offered. but obama’s lack of transparency is overwhelming. we don’t know anything about what is being decided for us. fear based speculation is in excess.

    our representative govt should be what balances the power between the people of this nation and the corporatocracy which is attempting to take over our govt. right now. they have infiltrated and we must push them back out. if the public option is not included, i will then know that obama will NEVER stand firmly on the side of the people of this nation.

  5. KQuark says:

    Vetoing a universal healthcare bill was never an option. Even if it’s not really healthcare reform but health insurance reform it’s still something desperately needed. Sure it will not be the bill the president wants but it will be the bill congress can pass. That being said I think in the speech he’s going to insist Congress send him a bill with a public plan but not commit to vetoing a bill without it.

    The fact is universal healthcare of any kind saves money. It does not save as much money as a public option but it gets you half the way their based on the following study.

    How universal healthcare lowers costs.

    http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2009/Jun/Fork-in-the-Road.aspx

    With no universal healthcare costs will rise 6.5%
    With only private universal healthcare costs will rise 5.8%
    With universal healthcare with public option costs will rise 5.6%
    With universal healthcare with public option and Medicare limits costs will rise 5.2%

    If you don’t think 1.3% is much it’s about $2 trillion dollars over 10 years.

    I will be very disappointed if a bill passes without a public option no doubt. But I will still look at the entirety of the bill to see what is does do for the unisued like moi.

    • tyler-durden says:

      profit must be taken out of the equation in paying for health care. THAT MONEY must go to offset the expense. NO ONE SHOULD BE MAKING PROFITS FROM DENYING HEALTH CARE SERVICES.

      the CEO pay and bonuses, the shareholder dividends, etc. ALL WILL BE REDIRECTED BACK TO THE SYSTEM.

      pay the doctors and hospital staff appropriately, pay the administration appropriately; provide a state of the art infrastructure, and then monitor it for maximum efficiency.

    • AdLib says:

      My concern is that without a public option, premiums and deductibles will remain out of reach for many of the 40 million Americans who can’t afford it.

      Can there truly be a legit Universal Plan without a public option?

      If the end result is a mandate for all Americans to buy plans from insurance companies and costs just continue to rise while others “break” the law because they can’t afford insurance, only the insurance companies will benefit.

      Since there is no legislation yet, who knows but I truly believe that without a public plan, health care reform that is passed will disintegrate.

      • KQuark says:

        That’s why it’s important to look at all the details. With the subsidies about 70% of American families will get relief with their premiums. Depending on income premiums are set to be 10%, 9%, 8% or 7% of income going from highest to lowest income qualifying for subsidies which will be for families making $66,000 -- $88,000 depending on the bill.

        Also increasing the risk pool by adding millions of younger healthier people will bring down costs for all.

        The public option is the way to go to maximize savings for sure but if you read the studies universal healthcare is over half the savings.

        • AdLib says:

          Here’s my issue with relying on the subsidization as a complete solution:

          1. There is no guarantee that just because the cost to Insurance companies declines that they will hand the savings to consumers instead of there shareholders.

          We could all be paying higher premiums and bigger deductibles despite all of this. The Insurance companies here in CA all bragged that insurance rates would go down if lawsuits were slashed. They got their wish and only raised rates.

          2. If costs continue to climb and the government is forced to basically hand over more and more taxpayer money to insurance companies with no end in sight, the whole program will be bankrupted and fall apart. Then Health Care Reform will be dead and such a failure would make it harder to ever pass it again in the future.

          Am I missing something? How does the legislation mandate premium and deductible decreases by insurance companies?

          • nellie says:

            In H.R. 3200 there is a cap on any copay. It’s $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family. With insurance companies mandated to cover anyone who wants insurance, and mandated to pay claims, losing the excuse of pre-existing conditions, they’re going to have to bring their costs under control. If they’re smart, they’ll start looking at those CEO salaries in a different light.

            Personally, I think the public option would be the best cost control mechanism, but there are other aspects to reform that are just as important.

            • AdLib says:

              That still doesn’t address premiums or deductable. If it only addresses copay then only those with the most serious conditions would benefit.

              For the typical family, whose annual income is in the ballpark of $45,000 (maybe a net of $35,000), an annual copay of $10,000 is huge.

              Again, I have witnessed here in CA that reducing the cost of insurance for insurance companies doesn’t get passed along to consumers. They instead pay out bigger bonuses and benefit shareholders.

              The corrupt in our society will always try to corrupt what does not chiefly benefit them. I am concerned that any reforms that are not attached to a public option will be easily undermined directly or in a roundabout way by the insurance industry.

  6. nellie says:

    I’m willing to wait to hear what the president says. We’ve heard report after report about the public option, and none of it has turned out to be reliable.

    • AdLib says:

      I’m with you on that however, this is Gibbs who said this and as the full article says, both Pres. Obama and Sebellius have publicly expressed the same optional nature of the public plan.

      My hope remains that this is a political maneuver to take some of the air out of the GOP fear machine and that the idea is to let it seem like Congress pushed this on him and in order to get an HC reform bill signed, he had to go along with it.

      As you say, we will see…

      • KQuark says:

        In this case progressives especially in the House are the fail safe point for the public option. The whole idea is to never get a bill without a public option to the president’s desk. I know it goes against what usual happens when bills are reconciled but if the House passes a bill with a strong public option and the Senate does not I think the House bill will win this time.

        • nellie says:

          Me, too, KQuark. I think the House progressives are going to be the fail safe. We’ll either get a bill w a public option, or no bill at all. And the second possibility would be devastating for the Democratic Party. I don’t think they’re going to let it happen.


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