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AdLib On December - 7 - 2009

frankenstein_monster_boris_karloffVery few people know that the sausage business was started by an ex-senator who learned everything he needed to from his career in The Senate. Including rolling in contributions from rats into the final product.

So now that The Senate is chopping up and rearranging the health care bill, what will it look like when it is finally put up for a vote? Almost unbelievably, talk is now common about killing the private option in the Senate…again! They are talking about going back to non-profit co-ops, triggers and just sending Band-Aids and Neosporin along with everyone’s income tax refunds. Once again, all bets are off, forget the bills that were passed in committees, they’re old news, this is all about watching sausage getting made.

And out of all the slicing and sewing together of all these different proposals, will the Health Care Bill emerge from the Senate as a Frankenstein, roaring angrily at its own hideous composition and throwing the most vulnerable citizens down the well  (“Oh dear. Nothing left. What shall we throw in now?”) ?

What if there is a mandate for all Americans to buy health insurance but no cost controls or public option? Should the bill be supported and passed?

There is now talk about an amendment to lower the age for Medicare and allow people down to age 55 or 60 to buy their way in. Not a bad idea at all but where were these people when this all started out? Imagine how easy this all would’ve been to just say, “We’re going to open Medicare for all with a low buy in option that will actually bring more money into Medicare!”

But no, Dems couldn’t be that straightforward and focused. Single payer health care is scary unless applied to all seniors, the poor, the military, convicted prisoners, suspected terrorists, etc.

The one thing to watch for is if there is a public option in any form in the Senate Bill. If there isn’t, the Public Option is dead and will be removed in Reconciliation with the House bill. If there is some form of a Public Option, it could be revised in huge ways in Reconciliation to be more robust…and would only need a 51 vote majority in The Senate.

And what about the abortion issue? Will the Senate Bill contain a provision basically preventing what is a legal procedure in this country through financial blackmail, as the Stupak bill did in the House bill? It’s hard for me to imagine that will be the case or that Dems will reconcile the bills and leave that in…or there will be hell to pay (though you do need to get a pre-approval from your insurance company for hell to be paid under your current plan).

Lastly, will Obama be forced to make a decision between signing a bad Frankenstein-like health care bill that ultimately does nothing to reduce the health care costs for most Americans and provides no option to the greedy insurance industry or by not signing it, be labeled a failure?

Or, as Pres. Obama promised, will he indeed sign a bill that brings down the cost of health care for all Americans?

Stay tuned for the sequel, “Frankenstein v.s. Dracula and other blood-sucking Health Insurance CEOs”.

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."

66 Responses so far.

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  1. AdLib says:

    Here it is folks, from the AP:

    In place of a government-run plan, originally designed as a way of forcing competition on private industry, officials said the Democrats had tentatively settled on a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by the federal agency that oversees the system through which lawmakers purchase coverage. Additionally, the tentative deal calls for Medicare to be opened to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55, a significant expansion of the large government health care program that currently serves the 65-and-over population.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091209/ap_on_bi_ge/us_health_care_overhaul

    I really like the Medicare provision and the precedent it would set in opening up to more and more Americans…it is the clearest and smartest way to get to single payer.

    As for the private insurance arrangement, my bet is that it will be a disaster since it would seem to put people back at the mercy of the insurance industry.

    Thoughts?

    • nellie says:

      This was in Truthout this morning:

      http://www.truthout.org/120909jl01

      I love lowering the age for medicare eligibility, but I’m not sure about the change to the exchange program.

      Bernie Sanders was on the radio yesterday morning, pretty angry about these reports. He is committed to progressive health care reform, and he stated definitively that the progressive wing of the senate wasn’t going to let anything through that didn’t have a real public option as part of the plan.

      I think, as usual, I’m going to wait to see what the bill says.

    • javaz says:

      Lowering the age for Medicare will benefit my husband and myself, but I’m worried a bit about the cost.
      From what I’ve been able to find so far, there is speculation that the 55-64 year old people have to buy in at the full cost and that will be $700.00/month for a couple.
      Then there is the supplemental insurance costs, and it is very bad news for us.
      It will up our monthly premiums over 200 dollars than what we pay now.
      We are worried that the company we worked for will force us out of our current plan, which is a burden as is, and into Medicare.

      I understand that this is speculation and we will not know the actual details for awhile, so can’t get too worked up or worry overly much at this point.
      Plus, by the time this takes effect, odds are that our monthly premiums would increase at the same rate, so it’s a wash.

      As for younger people, unless there is oversight to control costs, I agree with you in that it will be a disaster.

      All we can do is wait and see and keep writing our reps.

    • bitohistory says:

      AdLib, sorry I don’t have a link, but Reuters is reporting something different. And they have a quote from Reid. I am still waiting till I hear something from Harry.

        • bitohistory says:

          Good Job Kalima,

          “We can’t disclose the details of what we’ve done but believe me we’ve got something that is good, that I think is very good,” Reid said. “For us it moves this bill way down the road.”

          “All of the pieces have to fit together before anyone agrees on anything, but in that area we have pretty good consensus,” said Schumer of New York.

          And that is why I am waiting. It still ha to go through CBO

          • Kalima says:

            Well I’m waiting to hear what Hairy has to say in public before I pass judgment on what is good for the American people or not and Hi there bitohistory.

            • bitohistory says:

              Hello Dear Kalima, Hubby home yet?

            • bitohistory says:

              Kalima, I’m fine. That’s what I tell myself all the time.~smile~. Hope you are good and your ailments are giving you a respite today.

            • Kalima says:

              Yes, all safe and sound since yesterday lunchtime, thanks for asking.

              How are things with you?

  2. KevenSeven says:

    I have no real hope for the Public Option. Which was a compromise of a compromise of a compromise.

    Fact is. We never had 60 votes in the Senate to close debate on a bill that included it.

    Bummer. But if we don’t pass a bill before the next election, we lose seats in the Senate. If we do, we gain.

    Then traitors like Leiberman can go out in the row boat.

  3. bitohistory says:

    Reid and breaking news “We have a broad agreement” What ever that is?
    Also Benie Sanders will be on Rachel’s show.

    • escribacat says:

      Rachel Maddow was streaming that they’ve reached tentative agreement and PO is dropped

      • bitohistory says:

        But like Bernie said —the PO that they had was weak and this may be better. We will have to wait and see.
        of course, I am sure some one has a headline screaming:
        PUBLIC OPTION DROPPED!! in about 5….4…3…

  4. javaz says:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/hcan-public-option-must-be-operating-nationally-when-the-exchanges-start.php

    “”The influential reform campaign Health Care for America Now says thanks but no thanks to the idea of trading away the public option for a system modeled on the one that covers members of Congress.””

    “”We have said from day one that we believe the best way to create competition, lower prices, and ensure Americans get the quality, affordable health care they deserve is for Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform including the choice of a public health insurance option.””

    • bitohistory says:

      Interesting j’avaz, HCAN is Obama’s group. For them to come out with this now is something that makes me wonder. Are Obama’s true believers breaking ranks or did they get new marching orders?

      • javaz says:

        They have not commented yet about the Medicare buy-in for 55 -- 64 year old.

        I wonder if they do lower the age for Medicare if corporations can force employees to buy into Medicare, forcing them out of their health insurance plans.

        • bitohistory says:

          J’avaz there you go again—thinking. 😆
          That is a good point. Like Dr. Dean just said (and I think we all are)” I have to see how it is written and what is in it”

          • javaz says:

            I read somewhere this evening that if they do offer Medicare to younger people starting at age 55, that it would go into effect in 2010.
            I can’t remember where I read that or if it is true.

  5. bitohistory says:

    O/T Got a letter from Rep. Barney Frank today (yes, they were asking for money)and he had a cope of good lines:
    In fact, as I prepare to go to the floor of the House this week to defend a package of tough financial reforms and consumer and investor protections, I confront a hostile, virtually unanimous Republican Party, which has a major characteristic in common with a different set of eighteenth century figures -- the kings of France. When the French monarchy was restored to power in the 19th century, it was said that “The Bourbons have forgotten nothing because they learned nothing.”
    Current House Republicans now oppose financial regulation because they have learned nothing from the current economic crisis.

    “They have forgotten nothing because they learned nothing.”
    while I have some disagreement with the bill, it does seem as if the GOP liked the status quo when all their friends got rich.
    “regulations? We don’t need no stinking regulations” the bankers know what they are doing!

  6. bitohistory says:

    Nelson/Supak. Motion to table is passed 54-45!
    A moment of breath for women’s reproductive rights

  7. bitohistory says:

    VOTE!
    “Motion to Table”

  8. bitohistory says:

    The Nelson/Stupak amend. is going to face a motion to table not a full vote.
    Reid is on the floor voicing his position against it. “this is a HC Bill not an abortion bill”

  9. javaz says:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/12/08/dean-buy-in/

    “”Offering younger Americans the option of purchasing Medicare coverage could lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and strengthen Medicare over the long-term. Medicare

    • bitohistory says:

      j’avaz, That was part of Dr. Deans plan from many months/years ago. That and young people after losing their parents coverage could buy in to Medicare up to age 28. He again offered it to the Senate at the beginning of the writing of the HC Bill.

      I was dissapointed that Obama didn’t take in as a W.H adviser on HC, or appoint him Sec. of HHS. I like his thoughts.

      • javaz says:

        Yeah, he would have made a great pick for HHS.
        Perhaps Obama felt Dean was too controversial?
        Naw, he picked Rahm after all!
        :)
        Must be a personality conflict with top Democrats.

        • AdLib says:

          Rahm hates Dean and made sure that Dean was tossed out into the cold.

          He opposed Dean’s 50 state strategy and Dean’s progressive positions yet when the 50 state strategy yielded successes in 2006 and 2008, guess who jumped in to take all the credit…yep, good ol’ Rahmy (and he elbowed Dean out of the way of getting any credit).

          Rahm is old school DLC, he opposed the Public Option from the beginning and was pivotal in positioning Obama away from being an aggressive supporter of it (his fingerprints can be seen on all the Admin folk who have downplayed the necessity of a PO.

          He is one of those who have pulled Obama away from being more progressive.

          Can’t stand him or the DLC.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            I can’t stand Rahm and the DLC either. When Rahm’s COS appointment was first announced, I thought he’d be pretty good-- I remembered all the times I’d seen him in interviews, eating Reptilians for lunch. He was a much better Congressman than a staffer. He is obnoxious and not nearly as liberal as I mistook him to be.

          • bitohistory says:

            AdLib, Thanks for the reminder. Must be nice to have a memory. 😮
            At our precinct committee meetings we had many “spirited” conversations about the DLC. It being Central Florida,the progressives were outnumbered but we battled on with them. To me DLC were Dixiecrats that owned a business.

  10. javaz says:

    About abortion --

    http://rawstory.com/2009/12/fox-news-anchor-suggests-abortions-lowincome-population/

    “”If there is no federal money used to subsidize abortions for low-income women, doesn’t that mean there will be more low-income babies, and do any of these amendments talk about the health care for them?” Camerota asked.””

  11. choicelady says:

    OK, KevenSeven -- you RESTARTED my heart. We have 55 votes for the public option??? IT LIVES!!! We do NOT need 60 -- that’s just to cut off debate, and when the gloves came off last time -- implied threats to beat people such as Lieberman back to the committee on tourism to Bora Bora, he and the others caved. We need to keep our eyes on the prize. We need a robust public option -- not coops, not triggers, not opt-out, but a real public option. Yes, that CAN and SHOULD include expanding Medicare so that people under 65 may buy in (way cheaper than private market rates.) But if we HAVE 55 votes, then we need party discipline at every stage to cut off debate. Once that’s done, then the NO votes can proceed without harm to passage of the bill.

    But it is essential that we fight for a solid public option, not some watered down thing put up to get weak-willed Dems to vote for it. And the House won’t stand for a flabby public option. They will continue to press for what’s good for Americans, and in conference committee, I believe they can prevail.

    But reading that there are 55 is the best news I’ve had in a long day of worry -- providing the public option is a real one.

    I will keep up with you all -- I have a call Wed. with Senate staff, and I will post after that’s done. Or at least reply to y’all -- still not sure I know how to do my own, and for sure don’t have graphics.

    Anyway. Thank you!

    • KevenSeven says:

      I regret getting you all fired up. I don’t know that we have 60 votes to close debate. We might have trouble getting more than 55 to close debate for a bill including the public option.

      • nellie says:

        We might get Snowe and maybe Collins to close debate. But they may not vote for the bill.

        Who else do we need… Nelson? Lincoln?

        • KevenSeven says:

          I don’t give a good goddam if they vote for the bill. We need 50 to pass the bill, and we got that without trouble.

          The Traitor Leiberman is not going to vote for cloture, unless the bill is utterly emasculated. Nelson is insisting on the abortion restrictions. Lincoln? Your guess is as good as mine.

          We need 60 for cloture. I am in no way sure we get it.

          • nellie says:

            Keven — what I’m saying is that we might get people to vote for cloture who would vote against the bill. I don’t care if Snowe votes for the bill, either — but I do care if she votes for cloture. I think she might.

            • KevenSeven says:

              Exactly.

              It is a very common ploy to vote for cloture and to vote against the bill or confirmation. Like DiFi did on Alito. That way she got to tell everybody who cared that she was on their side.

              God, I hate DiFi.

    • kesmarn says:

      choicelady, please do post after your Wednesday meeting! Leave the graphics to the wonderful powers-that-be behind the curtain, if that’s a concern. They always come up with good stuff! We just need to get your impressions of how the process is going.

  12. KevenSeven says:

    A huge frustration is that the “Dems” you refer to are not a single organism. The Rethugs have shrunk sufficiently to achieve a level of party discipline reminiscent of a European party. The Rethug Senate Caucus represents 1/3rd of America, by population. The Dems represent 2/3rds.

    But of those “Dems” are people who are anything but liberal, or progressive. They look moderate in comparison to the cretins on the other side of the isle.

    Painfully, we only have about 55 votes for the Public Option. You ask, will Obama sign it? Does a bear shit in the woods? Obviously he will sign for whatever passes. Hell, he voted to immunize the Telecos.

  13. nellie says:

    I have to wait until there’s a bill before I have an opinion of it. The process is always messy like this. Campaign finance reform is really the only remedy.

  14. KQuark says:

    Passing legislation has always been sausage making it all depends whether the sausage tastes good in the end or does it have too many fennel seeds that get stuck in your teeth.

    Dropping the age to 55 to buy into Medicare is an inspired idea because no doubt it will push more Americans to want Medicare even sooner since it will establish a precedent. Actually this will probably lead to Medicare for all faster than any other policy.

    I’ve been reading up on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and from all I’ve read it’s an excellent program. Like I wrote in previous posts as long as NGO non-profits were available nationally I have no problem with that approach. Offering everyone the FEHBP would fit actually fit Obama’s campaign promise most closely.

    • bitohistory says:

      Agreed KQ, I think one reason so many people are dismayed at the sausage making is that more are aware of it. There are so many options available for people to learn of how a bill is passed and this bill has been so heavily covered. I would be hard pressed to name a bill that has had this much coverage.


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