Saturday, July 18, 2009

Health Care Saturday: That Brilliant Plan Edition

Sigh. Better media please . . .
Josh Marshall: Blitzer calls Obama afternoon remarks on health care a "hail mary pass" on to save health care reform.

Kurtz: Not Very Senatorial

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) twitters on Obama's White House remarks:

Obama speech on healthCareReform Absolutely nothing new Waste of time saying we are going to get that done Baucus and I know that But doRITE

Worries me that Grassley and Baucus think they have it all figured out.

Marshall on Keepin' It Classy

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS): If health care covered abortions, Obama's mom might have aborted him.
Ben Smith: Health reform foes plan Obama's 'Waterloo'

Conservative leaders will push delay any vote on health care reform until after the August recess to capitalize on what they say is a growing tide of opposition to reform measures, they said on a conference call with "tea party" participants today.

"I can almost guarantee you this thing won't pass before August, and if we can hold it back until we go home for a month's break in August," members of Congress will hear from "outraged" constituents, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint said on the call, which was organized by the group Conservatives for Patients Rights.

"Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people," DeMint predicted, adding that "this health care issue Is D-Day for freedom in America."

"If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him," he said.

The founder of Conservatives for Patients Rights told the 104 participants in the call, which was organized to coincide with the National Tea Party Patriots group's protests at the offices of members of Congress today, that polling suggests majorities oppose a "government take-over," which is how Scott's group casts the Obama plan.

Rep. Mike Pence, also on the call, also said the tide is turning.

"Every single day more dems are expressing op to government-run health care," he said.

Kurtz: Let the Record Show ...

Remember this?

President George W. Bush signed into law Thursday the first major piece of legislation of his presidency, a $1.35 trillion tax cut over 10 years.

Of the six senators begging President Obama to slow down health care reform, four of them -- Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME) -- voted for those huge Bush tax cuts.

Their votes were cast on May 26, 2001. Bush signed the tax cuts into law on June 7, 2001. Here we are in mid-July, eight years later, struggling to get health care reform passed by the end of the year.

So whatever these four foot-draggers are saying about why they want health care reform slowed down (and Nelson, for one, was all over the place yesterday warning against "rushing into this"), it's not really about wanting to be more deliberative or avoid ballooning the deficit. All you have to do is look back to 2001. Their records speak for themselves.

  • digby provides needed Perspective
    Let's not forget that the war in Iraq was a totally unnecessary expense. And there was absolutely no good reason to cut the taxes on rich people in 2001.

    I honestly don't recall even the mildest objections to the costs of Bush's programs coming from the same timorous Democrats who are now threatening to block health reform because they are expensive. But then, among our vaunted centrists and conservatives, cutting taxes or embarking on a useless waste of lives by violent means always seem to take precedence over making anyone's life better.
  • Benen adds HE CAN'T COUNT, EITHER....
    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, on Fox News yesterday:

    "They love going back to George Bush and his deficit that was inherited. Great. I'll take George Bush's deficit right now of a trillion dollars over the 10 trillion dollars that this administration has created in just six months."

    Even for Steele, that's pretty awful. Nate Carlile offers the confused party chair a quick primer on reality.

    ...Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion in 2001. Budget experts projected a $710 billion surplus for 2009 when he came into office. But the deficit soon exploded, thanks largely to the Bush tax cuts -- which accounted for 42 percent of the deficit. When Bush left office, he handed President Obama a projected $1.2 trillion budget deficit for this year, the largest ever.

    As for the debt, when President Bush took office, it was $5.73 trillion. When he left, it was $10.7 trillion.

    I can appreciate why the RNC might find these inconvenient details embarrassing. This is the party, after all, that pretends to care about deficits, fiscal discipline, and balanced budgets. If I were the head of the RNC, I'd have a hard time defending the Republican record on this, too.

    But c'mon. Obama created a $10 trillion deficit in six months? If Steele wants to be taken at all seriously, he should at least try to come close to reality.

sgw: What You Been Waiting For

Listen closely. That sound you hear is President Obama saying any health care bill he signs MUST have an insurance exchange INCLUDING a public option.

Let me say that again, INCLUDING a public option!

You gotta think this was a direct response to the ConservaDems and their bullshit "lets put on the brakes" letter. I bet they won't try that shit again anytime soon.

Now, lets get this shit done and get everybody covered!
Josh Marshall says Just Go Read It
Everyone who's yapping about the CBO chief's comments about health care costs, should read this piece by Jon Cohn. Another one of those cases where -- shockingly -- it really helps to understand the policy details and not just the political atmospherics.

It's not my first choice for paying for health care reform (this is), but the House is moving forward with a proposal to apply a graduated surcharge, or "surtax," on the very wealthiest Americans. The indispensable Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report yesterday on the proposal and deemed it a "reasonable approach" to paying for reform. (thanks to K.F. for passing this along)

The House surcharge proposal is reasonable and well-targeted. In recent decades, incomes have grown disproportionately for households at the top of the income scale, while their tax burden has fallen substantially. Moreover, despite charges to the contrary, the proposal would have only a small impact on small businesses. The congressional Joint Tax Committee estimates that it would have no impact at all on 96 percent of small business owners -- broadly defined as any taxpayer with as little as $1 of business income -- and that only half of the 4 percent of small business owners who would be affected derive more than a third of their income from a business. At the same time, the House plan would enhance the ability of small businesses to offer affordable, quality health insurance to their employees.

And while 96% of small business would be unaffected, so too would 98.8% of taxpayers.

Those remaining 1.2% would pay a higher rate, but as the CBPP report explains very well, these are the same very wealthy Americans who've done extremely well for themselves over the last quarter century. The richest taxpayers would pay slightly more, and in exchange, we can finally improve a broken health care system, and bring coverage to tens of millions of Americans who haven't fared as well as the very wealthy in recent years.

And what of the small businesses? While 96% of small businesses would feel no impact at all, the CBPP analysis also found that the reform package would extend key benefits to these businesses. For example, the House Democratic plan would "eliminate insurers' ability to increase premiums for small businesses based on their workers' health status and other factors," "allow small businesses to buy health coverage through a new health insurance exchange in order to lower administrative costs and ensure access to quality plans," and "provide tax credits for the smallest firms to help them offer coverage."

Some details to consider as the debate progresses.

digby: Who Says The Right Is Out Of Ideas?

Maha found this gem at the Cato Institute:

I have discovered a proposal for “fixing” health care on the Cato Institute website that is an absolute hoot.

The plan (see PDF) is to eliminate employee health benefit insurance and all government health care support, and throw everyone into the private insurance market. Insurance companies would be allowed to risk-rate premiums, so that as people got older and/or sicker their premiums would go up.

However, Cato says, this doesn’t have to be a problem. The solution is … wait for it … insurance insurance. They call it “health status insurance,” but essentially it’s insurance insurance. It’s a separate policy you take that will insure you against catastrophic increases in your health insurance.

I’m not kidding. That’s the brilliant plan.

She explains that in order to make it work, it requires that everyone, including young healthy people voluntarily buy in and also carry the insurance insurance, which sounds perfectly doable, right?

If that doesn't work out I assume there will soon be a market for insurance insurance insurance, for those who are under covered and over charged by the first two, which would create yet another market for insurance insurance insurance insurance.

Markets are so awesome. If only human beings weren't involved in all this it would be perfect.
  • Atrios adds . . .
    It is quite funny how their minds work. Problem with the insurance market such that they tend to increase prices when you get old and sick? Simple! Just take out an insurance policy on that. Of course, if the same thing happens with that insurance policy...take out another one! Eventually all the risk and costs will be passed on to insurance policy #666, at which time the health insurance companies will eat up 80% of our GDP.

    They almost grasp the problem, but they're ideologically unable to understand the obvious solutions.

Think Progress: GOP Rep. Admits That Health Insurance Companies Control The Market And Dictate Medical Decisions

Today on C-Span’s Washington Journal, a caller told a story of how he was forced to see numerous doctors at different hospitals in the area in where he lives, some as far as 100 miles away, to get a diagnosis. The caller then faulted health insurance companies for preventing the practice of having “diagnostic tests done under one roof.” “So in essence,” the caller noted, “the insurance companies are the ones controlling what tests you can get, when you get them, how you get them and if they’re accepted or not.”

In a remarkable moment of candor, C-Span’s guest — Republican Congressman Tim Murphy (PA) — agreed:

MURPHY: Yeah and that brings up the point here that with regard to one of our big frustrations with insurance companies is they control the market place, they control what’s done, a lot of times doctors not making the decisions here. And you recognize the frustration.

Watch it:

Murphy is right: Insurance companies control markets and are the ones making medical decisions. Insurance companies have consolidated in local markets which has resulted in limited choice and higher profits. In fact, “1 in 6 metropolitan areas in a 2008 study of more than 300 U.S. markets is dominated by a single health insurer that controls at least 70% of consumers.” And as The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky has noted, insurance companies try to cover only the healthy because offering care to sicker Americans puts them at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace.

In order to preserve the status quo of keeping health insurance in the private sector,
the GOP’s strategy has been to repeat the dubious claim that a public option “rations” care. But by making that argument, as Murphy pointed out, rationing care is just what these very same conservatives are supporting. Indeed, during her confirmation hearing in March, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “as insurance commissioner where I served for eight years saw it on a regular basis by private insures, who often made decisions overruling suggestions that doctors would make for their patients that they weren’t going to be covered.”

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