Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sometimes I wonder if I'm living in Bizarro World

Gah. Health Care Reform in the US? What a hard, mordant laugh. By the time the crassest and sleaziest politicians in the House had had their way yesterday, women's reproductive rights had taken a major hit and, as Dennis Kucinich put it,

The "robust public option" which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.

Here's what Lee Stranahan says in the Huffington Post:

Progressives should be every bit as upset that President Obama lied to us to get his historic health bill. The citizens of this country did not have a seat at the table. Proponents of the Single Payer didn't have a seat at the table. Under the guise of health care reform, we watched as the insurance industry got a bill passed that entrenches and enriches them.

Don't let anyone fool you that this bill is a good start. It's got a poison pill "Public Option" that is designed to fail. As the brilliant RJ Eskow wrote recently about the House bill's public option,

The plan will have low enrollment and little power to negotiate, causing the CBO to state as fact what I've long considered possible: That the public option could become a dumping ground where private plans jettison sicker people, while lacking the efficiencies of scale or negotiating power to get better rates or administer itself more economically.

As a result, says the CBO, a public plan's premiums might be higher than private insurance. While the CBO's word isn't gospel, it's entirely possible that they're underestimating the cost of any "public option" we're likely to see this year. The likeliest political outcome, once the House and Senate bills are combined, is a non-robust "public option" with a state-by-state opt out. The CBO didn't consider the opt-out when it came up with its shocking (to some) estimate.

Even if it passes in its weak form, this Public Option will be the target of the GOP for years and they won't rest until it is dead. As the Public Option kicks into gear, they will find stories of 'rationing' and denial of care they can highlight, true or not. They will use the higher costs as proof of the Public Option's folly. They will grind away at the Public Option relentlessly but they will leave the Individual Mandate alone. If anything, once the Mandate is in place, the Republicans will make sure the insurance industry is 'free to compete' and unrestricted.
I can hardly wait to see what the Senate does with it.


Nancy Jane Moore said...

Here's what makes me mad: We got a bill that sells women out and compromises far too much with the insurance companies, and it still barely passed the House. Look at this list in the NY Times of Democrats who voted against it. While a few of them barely won contested elections in heavily Republican districts, most of them either won in districts Obama carried or won by such large margins that they are in little trouble even in Republican areas. Many of them represent districts with high numbers of uninsured. I don't think these people can argue political expediency, so why did they vote against their constituents' interests? One assumes it was because they get money from people interested in keeping the status quo; I find it hard to believe they're opposed on principle.

Given the amount of effort it took to get a flawed bill out of the House, even with a Democratic majority, popular support for reform (despite the idiot teabaggers), and strong leadership by Nancy Pelosi, I do wonder about what we'll actually get out of the Senate. After all, Harry Reid is a weak leader who always compromises before he has to, and the Democrats don't seem to be willing to call the Republicans' bluff on threats to filibuster.

This bill is flawed and I do worry that it won't do enough to rein in the cost of health insurance -- the real cost problem in health care -- but it will provide more care for more people. But the Senate could take away even that.

Foxessa said...

According to this bill being a woman is a pre-existing condition.

The way it works in this bill is that if you are a poor woman and need government help to pay for health insureance, you cannot get money for a health insurance program that covers abortion service.

However, if you pay for the abortion expenses yourself, like say you are a poor woman who has an ectopic pregnancy and will likely die if it isn't removed by some tricky medical procedures, and you are receiving government assistance to pay for your health insurance, the money will be taken away from you, and thus also the health insurance and that is that.

This is insane.

But it only affects women so it doesn't matter.

Love, C.