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AdLib On December - 14 - 2009

flatlineRachel Maddow just mentioned and the AP feed here at The Planet also presents the story that the Senate Dems meeting on health care that just ended, the Medicare buy-in and the Public Option will be killed to get the bill passed before the end of the year and bring Joe Lieberman on board for cloture.

Rachel just had Sen. Ron Wyden on her show who is a passionate supporter of Public Options and he was clearly resigned to there being NO PUBLIC OPTION in the Senate bill.

Wyden’s disappointment was palpable. He knows where things are going. Simultaneously, Rachel mentioned that Lieberman’s response to tonight’s meeting was that he’s encouraged.

I hope I’m wrong but I am now convinced that t’s over. There will not be a Public Option nor Medicare buy-in in the Senate bill and thus, there will not be one in the final bill that Obama signs. It’s over.

The Senate Dems, Rahm Emmanuel and Obama have concluded that getting a bill passed before Christmas is the priority. I’m sure there are those Dems and Obama who see this as a first step and they can come back to this later.

That’s very optimistic.

So, what no one will stand against in this bill, that all Americans will be legally required to give private insurance corporations their money without limitation on premiums or deductibles…or either increasing hugely…WILL be included.

But the option for people to have an alternative to being broken financially by health care corporations is removed.

The Dems and Obama seem to believe that the progress on outlawing the practices of denying coverage and benefits and co-funding a minority of Americans’ premiums is worth it.

One can’t argue that those provisions would be an important reform of the HC industry as would some other proposals still supposedly in the bill.

A bill accomplishing those can’t be opposed.

But the same bill making it a law that makes Americans the financial serfs of the Insurance industry is unacceptable.

Is a bill that takes away some injustices but makes others into law worthy of passage?

I really don’t know. We may not get another serious bite at this apple for a generation, could “reform” permanently compromise the American public by then?

Or maybe such changes will never get passed in the future. This could be it. Is it alright for this to be the law of the land through your, your kids’ or grandkids’ lives?

Please vote below:

[poll id=”19″]

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."

387 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    Well, here’s an additional worry about the possibility of another concession --


    “”But another key moderate, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., was still withholding his support as he seeks stronger abortion restrictions in the bill, among other issues.””

  2. nellie says:

    Congressional phone lines are busy — excellent! But I want to get in my 2 cents!

  3. Hopeington says:

    I did call my CA Rep, Sam Farr, today.
    He said he would absolutely continue to fight for the public option.

  4. javaz says:

    I love Al Franken.
    We need more Senators like him.


    “”WASHINGTON — In a few moments of heated but controlled anger on the Senate floor Monday evening, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) slammed Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and the GOP for essentially lying about the nature of the Democratic health care bill, suggesting they haven’t read it.

    “We are entitled to our own opinions; we’re not entitled to our own facts,” Franken said. “Benefits kick in right away.””

  5. PatsyT says:

    John Cornyn was being interviewed this past hour on Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC
    When asked- if the public option and the medicare buy in are
    taken out of there -what is left to object to?
    Cornyn can not give an answer… surprise surprise
    Chuck Todd and Joe Klein respond by saying
    that they think this will make the Repubs look like petty politicians and that are smelling blood.
    “They have no interest in the governing of the country” -- Joe Klien
    Ha !
    Where have these reporters been?
    They are only saying this NOW????

    They are voting on Sanders Amendment 2837

    I have been calling my CA Senators all morning and the lines are BUSY
    I hope this is a good sign that folks are waking up and speaking up

  6. bitohistory says:

    KQ, brought this subject earlier, while we are dissing the Dems for not getting their shit together on the perfect bill. Do not forget the Rethugs for not doing a thing for reform of health care. Remember all the HC bills in the last 8-12 years while this crises built? Remember the privatization of S.S.
    Would HC have even been brought up if McCain had won.
    I know everyone remembers, but don’t let this fall off the scene.

  7. AdLib says:

    Kesmarn, you’re right about the incentive to make less money to avoid penalties and there’s one other unintended consequence.

    If one was working at a lower wage job and couldn’t afford $400 -- $600 a month in insurance premiums or a $2,000 penalty each year for not carrying insurance, a solution would be to make less money so the government would pay the premium and there would be no penalty. However, how would one pay for other necessities?

    One of probably many unintended results, will be the Welfare-type disincentive to get married.

    First, two people who are making lower wages, if married, might rise above the level that would qualify them individually for gov’t assistance on premiums.

    Second, both would be liable on their tax returns for either not being insured. By not being married, one of them could not have insurance and the other could without recourse.

    And in a way, as javaz suggested a while back, Obama may indeed bring us to bipartisanship with Teabaggers and Progressives marching on DC to protest an oppressive mandate that financially enslaves citizens to Insurance companies.

    Who woulda thunk it?

    They better get this right or all the promise of the Progressive agenda will go down in flames.

    • Hopeington says:

      AdLib, here’s my quetion on this…
      What about all the people that are making very good money, under the table.
      They claim little to nothing on tax returns.
      If they are forced into the new system, even though they have the money, they’ll be seen as low income. Will they be able to receive subsidies that they really don’t qualify for or what? They won’t have to pay the penalty if they don’t file tax returns, and yet, they’d have to state their income to get insurance. Seems like there’s a lot of ways this system could be abused.
      I ‘m not sure I’m being clear, so I hope you all get my point.

    • bitohistory says:

      AdLib, To be polite, Bull shit! I have never met anyone that didn’t want to work over time because they would pay more taxes. I have worked jobs where our first 40 hrs at regular time went to taxes and no one said I won’t work because Of the taxes. Nor, have I met anyone, who had kids or a medical condition, not worry about not having health insurance.

      • kesmarn says:

        b’ito, you’re my pal, but I have to say there are situations in which the prudent move actually is to make sure your income doesn’t go over a certain figure. There are working single moms who have health insurance and day care subsidies if their incomes are in the $12/hr range, but if they go over about $13.50, they lose EVERYTHING. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. They have to pay for all their kids’ medical expenses AND a huge amount more for day care. It wipes out the entire raise and then some. Mothers in this situation have to be very careful about accepting raises or overtime.

        • bitohistory says:

          K’esmarn, but if this bill holds to the body of the agreement, the subsides go up to to 400% of poverty. What is the single mother not going to accept child support?
          400% of poverty is above the median wage of $52,000.

          • kesmarn says:

            Hi, b’ito, just got back home after a quick errand. Can you help me out here? What percentage of the premiums do the subsidies pay? That would be the deciding point on whether folks would be better off paying their part or letting themselves slide (for lack of a better phrase) into the zone in which the government picks up the tab.

            Sadly, one thing many single moms learn early on is: never count on child support. Enforcement almost never happens.

            • bitohistory says:

              K’esmarn, I do not know what the cut off answers are. I just cant help but think/hope that this bill will be a help to those “less-advantaged.”
              I am getting back to the point of saying again “let’s see what is in the final bill”

              Do to numerous medical reasons I know that one has to “game the system.” I also know that I would like to be able to work and have a chance to improve from a state of poverty. Not fun!

            • kesmarn says:

              I know what you’re saying, b’ito. It’s easy to complain about how hard any given job is, but the hardest thing of all is not being able to work. As a cancer survivor myself, I have been there in the past.

    • KQuark says:

      Nobody is going to want to make less money though they might want to hide more money.

      I think you’re being a little over dramatic. This is not the end of the world for the progressive agenda unless liberals and progressives out of spite stop showing up at polls to keep progressives in and add more to the legislator.

      The only real progressive part of the bill was the Medicare buy in at 55. Like I said in an earlier post the public option was always a band aid.

    • javaz says:

      That’s what I’m talking about.
      It’s time for us to set aside our differences and unite in demanding our elected officials work for ‘we the people’ that voted them into power, instead of the corporations.

      Not all teabaggers are racists and ignorant.
      There are extremes on both sides.

    • kesmarn says:

      AdLib, I completely agree with your assessment. If this isn’t done properly, it could end up being the straw that breaks the economy completely. If working Americans are forced to chose between the house, paying down the credit cards, and health insurance--my prediction is: something is going to have to go. If we think we’ve seen a lot of folks declaring bankruptcy to this point--just wait.

      And now--blast--I’m going to have to start getting ready for work. If I get on-call status at the last minute, I’ll be back to this fascinating discussion. Otherwise, I’ll see you all later!

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    I just have to say this: I am very disappointed by Obama’s wish to have health insurance reform pay for itself in either 10 years or 20 years. It should be government funded whether it pays for itself or not. Period.

    Here is what Obama said:
    Q: Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?

    OBAMA: Well, I think it should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can

    • nellie says:

      I’m not sure the program pays for itself — but it is deficit neutral. And I think that’s a good thing. We don’t want to run up any more debt than we already have

      • Chernynkaya says:

        I worry about the debt too, but if health care is a right--a moral imperative-- then this is something that should take precedence over the deficit. Cut something else, tax the wealthiest; do whatever it takes because Obama had it right in that debate. It is every bit as great a threat--GREATER-- than the wars in Af/Pak, Iraq. 45,000 die needlessly each year-- more than any other cause of death, accidental or man-caused. An unhealthy nation is an insecure and un-secure nation.

        Sorry, Nellie, for the stridency, but I am passionate about this. I’ve had two friends commit suicide this past year. They were both women in their late 50’s who were single and had no health care. I am ranting not at you at all, but at my utter dismay and disgust with this country about this.

    • KQuark says:

      Democrats just live by a higher standard financially because of the successful “tax and spend” tag the GOP fixated in people’s minds politically.

      I hate to sound clich

    • kesmarn says:

      Yes, Cher, I was thinking about the “how do we pay for this” issue earlier today as well. Especially the way the conservatives prioritize it.

      In a way this is like a family in which a parent says: “We have a limited amount of money in our household, so I’ve decided that I’m going to buy a very nice gun, and put lots of money in the bank for my retirement, but that doesn’t leave any funds to take care of Junior’s ruptured appendix. Sorry, Junior. And by the way, stop whining and get a job.”

      • nellie says:

        I think this is a major issues, kesmarn. We need to re-order a lot of our priorities, starting w health care and moving quickly on to the tax code.

        • kesmarn says:

          Absolutely, nellie. I just hope we can overcome the very formidable forces that are lined up against us. I’m surprised at the power they wield; and I’ve never thought of myself as a naive person.

          • nellie says:

            I knew this was going to be a bloodbath — maybe because I grew up in Washington around political people. Monied interests should never be underestimated.

            I still have hope though — because the people on our side shouldn’t be underestimated either.

      • Mightywoof says:

        A very apt analogy Kesmarn. Government spending should not be about how much is spent but on prioritizing that spending -- and in my life experience there are very few conservative governments in the world that have health, education or the common weal as their priorities. We can all debate HOW much should be spent on health etc., but, running against a conservative pov, so much energy is wasted in trying to get through to them that if a government takes care of the people, the people take care of themselves.

        • bitohistory says:

          MW, that is too logical,

          so much energy is wasted in trying to get through to them that if a government takes care of the people, the people take care of themselves.

          That almost sounds like something a Canadian would say. :-)

        • kesmarn says:

          Well spoken, Woof! We were talking a while back about how conservatives in general seem to value/relate to THINGS above people. That’s a tough thing to overcome. It seems to be congenital with so many of them!

          Have to run out for just a bit now. Back soon. Don’t let AdLib near my cookies while I’m gone! 😮

      • Chernynkaya says:

        And what if education had to pay for itself?

        • nellie says:

          I think our education programs are deficit neutral as well — they’re paid for in the revenue stream.

        • kesmarn says:

          Precisely, Cher.
          But, of course, that comparison implies that health care is a right, like education :o! And we all know that--in the Gospel According to Rush--health care is a privilege…

          In fact, in the Neocon Bible, I think that, increasingly, education is a privilege, too…at least any education beyond the basic obedience school that takes kids up to 12th grade and into the military.

        • PatsyT says:

          That is a great question…..

  9. Mightywoof says:

    As a Canadian (and as someone who was born and raised in the UK) I cannot tell you how sad I am to read this article this morning. I felt such hope that single payer would actually happen for you all but that hope has been diminishing steadily from PO down through the HCR list until now, it seems, you really are being left between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Please, please don’t give up the good fight -- somewhere in your difficult-to-understand (for me anyway) political processes there has to be enough pols of good will to do the requisite strong-arming.

    Now I have to go read-up how this site works so I don’t commit too many egregious newbie errors!!

    • bitohistory says:

      A warm welcome MW!

    • boomer1949 says:

      Welcome Woof!

      I have cats so please don’t hold it against me.

      I’m a newbie as well. The Planet is a great place to be, and I think you’ll like it here. :-)

      • Mightywoof says:

        I have a kitteh (Kitty -- 19 1/2 years old and hanging in there) as well as a goggie (the original Mightywoof!), Boomer -- we’ve also had 2 beagles and 2 cockatiels -- so I love all animals and all folks who have and love animals!!

        • escribacat says:

          You have come to the right place then! This place is crawling with animal lovers. Two greyhounds and a kitty here.

          • BigDogMom says:

            e’cat and all the other pet owners -- I think one Thursday or Saturday, (I don’t want to miss Friday’s live chat), we do a post on everyones personal pet stories…I think we all have them.

            I know it’s not political, or it could turn out to be, but so many of us have them…I think it would be fun.

            If it’s OK with everyone, ie. AdLib and Co., I put something together.

      • BigDogMom says:

        I think we should take a pole on how many cats vs. dogs that the posters here have….I think those stinking cats are wining!!!!

        • Hopeington says:

          Since we’re polling, 1 dog, a Tibetan Mastiff named Kanga and 1 cat, Miss Kitty. I rescued the cat from off the streets, and I rescued the dog from my son that got her and and then spent no time with her.
          He pays all food and vet bills, and I get to enjoy her!! I love all creatures great and small.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Right now, we just have one big dog (my Zorro).

        • boomer1949 says:

          Well, I have 3 cats; far less than Kalima. Don’t think any us can beat her.

          Used to have a Golden and a Westie and have nothing against dogs. Okay just one…my neighbor has one with absolutely terrible manners. Of course it’s not his fault — it’s his Mom’s. I don’t think he made it to puppy school.

          • BigDogMom says:

            There are a lot of dog owner’s that should not have them…there is nothing worse than a stupid dog owner that can’t figure out why their dog jumps, bites, attacks other dogs and poops in the house on a consistent basis….arrgghh, that just get’s my goat.

        • PatsyT says:

          Count me in for Three DOGS ! They rule the entire house.

          • BigDogMom says:

            Ok, so you have three, e’cat has three greyhounds and a cat, Monk has two corgies and I have two goldens…I still think they’re wining…Kalima’s numbers just dwarf ours, damn, LOL!

    • Mightywoof says:

      Thankyou for your welcome -- and please call me MW or Woof -- it’s easier on the fingers :)

      I’m afraid all can add to the discussion is support and well wishes -- oh yes, a sense of moral outrage (as unproductive as that may be)

      • BigDogMom says:

        Cute dog and nice picture, what kind is it?

        • Mightywoof says:

          Sorry BDM -- I only just saw this. We got him from the pound so we don’t really know. They thought he was a Jack Russell but I have been convinced he’s a rat terrier (or ‘b’rat terriers as they are known -- with affection or fear I’m not too sure).

    • BigDogMom says:

      Welcome Mightywoof…from one dog to another, you are right, see Adlib’s message below, there are many of us who still write and sign petitions to make our voices heard, we will not give up the fight!

    • kesmarn says:

      Welcome, Mightywoof, and thanks for your support.

    • AdLib says:

      Welcome to The Planet, Mightywoof!

      Thanks for the encouragement. Even if our Senate gives up on affordable health care for all and single payer, we won’t.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Don’t worry, Mighty-- many of us are newbies too!

  10. AdLib says:

    As has been mentioned here, we need desperately and urgently to make our voices heard by the Dems in the Senate. There are several organizations and sites compiling petitions, I am partial to MoveOn.org on this because they have a base of 4 million members.

    So, I recommend to anyone reading this who wants to do something to drive home to the Senate Dems that we need a real Public Option, to click on the link below and sign MoveOn’s petition:

    From MoveOn:

    “A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to leaders in Congress and the White House.

    Full petition text:

    “You must make sure health care reform includes a real public option--it’s what the majority of Americans want. Anything less is a gift to Big Insurance.”


    • bitohistory says:

      Just heard Jane on the Ed Show (radio). She was giving out mis/disinformation and sounded like AH or a Repub than was comfortable for me.
      Yes I want single payer, Yes I want a robust PO. I ain’t gonna get it! LBJ had to take two years to get medicare through! This country is not a radical country--except during times of war--thank Dog.

      • boomer1949 says:

        Why do they do that? Talk out of both sides of their mouth I mean?

        • Chernynkaya says:

          I am somewhat conflicted about the way the Left handles single payer. On one hand, I think it’s important to remember how much was compromised from the get-go, and to never stop pushing. On the other hand, there comes a time when we have to accept reality, and push for the best we can get, no?

          • bitohistory says:

            Cher, I agree, this will not be the bill the left wants, nor the right nor the Big Pharma, nor Insurers, nor Obama! Might be close to the best we can get this go around if so many won’t be happy. :-)

  11. kesmarn says:

    Good afternoon, all!

    The worst case scenario is, as AdLib mentioned, the mandate that citizens buy health insurance without adequate cost controls in place to limit insurance company greed. I sincerely hope this is not the end result of this prolonged struggle!

    But, if by chance, that happens, I have to wonder whether there wouldn’t be a built in tripwire. I think there would be massive civil disobedience on this one. And not even because people would necessarily WANT to break the law. They would be forced to. Even if premiums were as low as $200/month, there are amazing numbers of families who just do not have that right now. There is no wiggle room in many budgets--zero, zip, nada. And, of course, other people would not buy the insurance for other reasons--either on principle, or simply because they don’t bother with home, renter’s or car insurance either (a minority, I would imagine, on that one).

    As a co-worker of mine once joked: “So you don’t follow the rules…What are they gonna do? Take away your birthday?”

    • KQuark says:

      I believe in a mandate to spread risk because now that’s the ONLY big way to drive down costs. Countries like Switzerland do very well with an all private healthcare systems. But the people should get a loophole that you could drive a truck through if they cannot afford the premiums they don’t have to pay a penalty. The question is compliance as well. America is not a very compliant country. In all states where care insurance is mandatory for example average compliance is about 71% while using Switzerland again compliance is 99% for car insurance and high nighties for healthcare insurance.

      There are also cost containment measures in the House bill. Insurance companies have to pay out 85% the receive in premiums to claims. While this does not sound good many large insurance companies with OH costs and profits paid out about 70%. Of course the insurance companies will work the system as much as they can but this at least makes them reduce costs.

      • nellie says:

        I think w mandates come subsidies to people who can’t afford to pay insurance rates. The point is to get everyone in the pool, as you say.

        I just worry about cost containment. Insurance companies need competition. IMO, they need to be out of the equation altogether, but I know we can’t get a plan like that as the first step.

      • bitohistory says:

        KQ, Rockefeller said he got the 85% moved up to 90%.
        Will it hold?

        • KQuark says:

          Thanks for the update. It will be lost on most progressives but this is bigger in many ways to the public option if it really has some teeth.

      • kesmarn says:

        I agree, KQuark, on the need for mandates. Also agree, though, on the need for a LOT of leeway on enforcement. This is going to hit unemployed/underemployed people hard. (Since a lot of employed people have employer-provided insurance.) In a country that apparently believes that approx. $8/hr minimum wage is just ducky, how much can people reasonably be expected to pay?

    • AdLib says:

      They will require you to verify your health insurance details in your income tax filings.

      If they can’t verify you have a policy, you will get hit with a big fine and have the IRS after you and holding onto your refunds.

      It is going to be ugly.

      • bitohistory says:

        Not knowing what is in the Bill, AdLib, The large fines were greatly reduced in the Finance mark-up.

      • KQuark says:

        Time to start analyzing the MA system because that’s pretty close to what we might get. Compliance is going up even though many people still don’t like the mandates. The big difference is the subsidies that 60-70% of families will get with the Federal plan.

      • kesmarn says:

        Yes, AdLib, they’ll definitely bring out the big guns. No doubt about that. But how are they going to handle millions of defaults on this? Once people get to the point at which they literally have NOTHING left to lose…well, you know what happens.

        • AdLib says:

          How they will handle it, apparently, is keep the tax refunds from all households that have even just one person not covered.

          Technically, the IRS can sue everyone who doesn’t do as the law demands. Will they? I can’t imagine so.

          For those who don’t make enough to pay taxes, there doesn’t seem much that the IRS can do to them, though they will be eligible for gov’t grants to buy insurance anyway.

          The people who would be hardest hammered by this would be working Americans who usually get tax refunds but don’t qualify for subsidies and can’t afford the premiums.

    • BigDogMom says:

      kesmarn, I’m with you on a massive civil disobedience by the public, not because they are necessarily outraged, but because the just can’t afford it…if push comes to shove, if it’s over my budget, I will be the first one in line and will pay the fine….

      • kesmarn says:

        Yes, BDM, and I would bet that there will be those would will be fed up enough to say: “I’ll go to prison before I pay that fine.” Or: “Go ahead, take my house in lieu of the damned fine. I’ll sit out on the street with my kids holding a sign saying: ‘The U.S. government did this to me.'”

  12. Chernynkaya says:

    This whole health care debacle is so disheartening, frustrating, infuriating! But something occurred to me late last night: Until Obama’s Presidency, I wasn’t waiting for HC reform-- just lamenting our terrible system. The fact is, for me, I had no concrete expectations until it became part of the agenda. Now, it’s the most important legislation I can think of.

    And I think that brings up the issue of Great Expectations. So much was hoped for and expectations were raised so high, I doubt they will be possible to meet. (Cold comfort, because they are needed!)I wonder how different this period would seem if Obama had stated more “modest” goals, such as financial reform and jobs programs. And cleaning up 8 horrendous years. Now, EVERYTHING feels so urgent, so necessary. Which it is, yet so nearly impossible to accomplish.

    • Gretel1or2 says:

      Cher I see where you’re coming from. And it’s true that expectations were raised quite high, perhaps higher than they should have been. However, I sometimes liken this process to scenarios that many of us have gone through at various points in our lives. For instance, take a scenario of applying for and getting accepted into a top medical or professional school. At first, we experience euphoria with extremely high expectations and endless optimism about the future. We go out and celebrate and gloss over any potential hurdles. Then by the end of the first year into the program, reality has hit as we get bogged down with administrative and other tasks and face some challenges, and we find ourselves depressed, discouraged and pessimistic. We may question our decision, flirt with the idea of quitting, complain, etc…But even as we struggle, progress is being made.

      If you go back and listen to Obama’s election night speech and his inauguration speech, he did try to scale back expectations by saying that none of his goals would be accomplished easily or quickly, but we were too caught up in the moment.

      One thing I do believe that Obama himself may have underestimated, was the level of GOP opposition that he would face on practically every issue. I for one greatly underestimated their intention to obstruct at every turn. I also believe that the MSM & some of the American public are too willing to give them a free pass while they shamelessly play “politricks” to work against real improvment in the lives of ordinary Americans.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Hi, Gretel-- and thanks for the encouraging thoughts. I really like your analogy, as that describes my experiences on embarking on any new endeavor too. But the most salient sentence was the one you wrote about what Obama cautioned-- It won’t be easy! Very few of us actually took that to heart in that moment--because we were so caught up, but it was prophetic.

  13. Gretel1or2 says:

    I think president Obama should have Joe Lieberman deployed to Afghanistan, or better yet, have the military drop some drones on Joe’s mansion in Connecticut. This is one instance where I would not mind the use of military force!

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