The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Senate Finance Committee: We’re Going to Make You Buy Bad Insurance With No Public Option

winged_caduceusSeriously, this is just pathetic:

1) Lower the medicaid coverage rate from 150% to 100% of the Federal poverty line, 133% for kids and pregnant women (once you have the baby, too bad for you)
2) Subsidies stop at 300% of the poverty line (was 400%)
3) No Public Option mentioned
4) Insurance exchanges at the State level
5) Must buy insurance unless it costs more than 15% of your income
6) A fine if you don’t buy insurance unless you’re below the Federal poverty line

For the most part, as Walker discusses, this is actually identical to or slightly worse  than the plan put forward by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).  Yes, worse than the insurance industry’s plan.  Remarkable.  Baucus is really earning his campaign donations these days.

Of course, this is only one proposal, and in principle others from the House and other Senate committees could be better, and the better ones could be enacted.  Obama has said he wants a public option, and he may whip for it.

But, if something like this is what comes out as the eventual “reform” it is worse than nothing.  Being forced to buy bad insurance, with huge co-pays without a public option to keep prices in check has as its primary value that it is a subsidy for the insurance companies and that it reduces catastrophic healthcare costs for hospitals, because due to forced purchases of bad plans, some of the folks who used to come in at the last minute, after having not gotten care, and then costing the hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency care, will be partially paid for.  They’ll still come in last minute and not have been properly cared for since the deductibles will mean they didn’t get help, but 70% or 80% of their final death-rattle costs will be paid for.

The problem with this plan is that it won’t control costs.  Without a public option, the insurance companies will have no check on their prices, let alone pressure to actually reduce them.  Because people will be forced to buy bad insurance, they’ll hate the plan, and because “reform” has been passed, we’ll have to wait another 10 or 12 years for another shot.

Obama desperately wants to pass health care “reform”.  The fear is that he may take the easy road, and pass any bill that is “better than nothing”, and that progressives will once again accept the logic that it’s better to get something rather than fight for an actual good bill.

But because Obama does desperately want to pass something, if progressives stand firm in the House or the Senate, and refuse as a bloc to pass anything without a good public option, nothing can pass unless Republicans cross the aisle, which is rather unlikely.

So the answer is to stop being taken for granted.  Stand up for and demand a public option, and refuse to accept a bill which does less.  Don’t let Obama have a cheap victory; a cheap “medicare reform”.  If he wants it, make him whip for a real bill, a good bill, with a public option.  He whipped for money to bail out banks in Eastern Europe.  He whipped for TARP.  He can whip for a good healthcare bill.  And it won’t even cost 700 billion.




Senate Democrats Against The Public Option Aren’t Caving They Just Don’t Belive In Real Universal Healthcare


  1. This will be his real test. The Blue/Bayh Dogs bent over for him re: the Supplemental/IMF Bailout Bill(except for Ben Nelson). So they can bend over again for a real health care bill. If they don’t, that means Obama didn’t whip for it, which means he’s increasing his chances of being a one-termer. Because you better believe the Republicans will pull out the stops in ’12. I am sure he’s read history. I don’t know what is holding him back from going all Roosevelt. Unless it is that DLC hack Rahmbo. Which by the way, did you see that BS on C-Span the other day? They covered Rahm giving a speech before some DLC conference where it looked like only 30 people were there, tops.

  2. William Freudenthal

    Ian ,the Baucus plan sounds a lot like the plan we have here in Massachusetts. A plan pushed through by the states insurance industry with the help of a Republican governor .
    Health insurance in the Commonwealth is mandatory , and the subsidized plans offered by the state are terrible.
    Any plan with out a public option would just end up being a give me for the insurance industry.

  3. CoyoteCreek

    I have a dream.

    I see all Dems standing up and speaking with one voice: “America wants good health care for all. America deserves good health care for all. And we’re going to give America good health care for all. It’s going to cost X. Now get used to that, and get over it.”

    Sigh. When I wake up each morning I learn more and more that my dream will never become a reality with these “Dems” sitting on their hands.

  4. adrena

    Obama has sold his soul to the corporatocracy.

  5. jbaspen

    Ian, what amazes me is that the American People, despite being sujected to the withering corporate media, still have retained their basic common sense on this issue! As the Coyote aptly pointed out yesterday, 76% of the citizenry are in favor of Single Payor! If we actually could get the same “air” as the Insurance Industry, there would be no telling! Instinctually, people are asking why do we need the insurance middlemen at all?
    What’s equally amazing – and desultory – is Obama’s desperation to avoid Loss of Face. This coalition of his may consist of many progressives; but the neo-somethings are running the
    show. That, of course, means Wall Street.
    Obama’s election has brought into sharp focus just how powerful is this Washington/New York Establishment. They simply continue to loot trillions to keep this Country on a war-footing, as well as cover their mind-blowing gambling spree in Manhattan.
    Ian, how do we take the measure of this out of control plutocracy?

  6. gtash

    Well, although I agree that the plan you cite is truly awful, I do not see people with pitchforks in the street clamoring for anything—anything at all. The 76% who want single payer (and I include myself) are the silen-test majority I have ever seen.

    Just how is this overwhelming sentiment supposed to overwhelm?

  7. CoyoteCreek

    gtash: I think the 76% of us who want the public health care options are simply worn out from the day to day lies that are being spread around about what we want and need and demand. I, for one, am shell shocked at the lack of leadership and fortitude that is “DC”.

    There is simply no one in the District who represents me or my interests. They don’t care. They are only out for themselves. I, for one, am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any longer. Today I learn that Baucus earns $1,500 a day from health care lobbyists while he pretends to put plans together representing health care reform.

    But taking it to the streets (which I would love to do) does not appear to be an idea that has caught on with others (ahhh, I remember 3 wonderful pro-choice rallies and two great anti-war demonstrations that I attended…they were the most wonderful things I have ever done, politically).

    But, hey, didn’t this country vote for Change in 2008? So why should we even have to worry about such things…..???? Oh, sorry I asked.

  8. Keep Your Eyes Open

    Folks, getting any healthcare is worthless if the Congress continues to exempt themselves and Federal workers from having to be covered. The Kennedy plan exempts Congress members and federal workers and I suspect the other plans do as well. If a plan is good enough for us, then it must be good enough for the Fed gov’t including those in Congress — if not, it IS NOT good enough for the rest of us either.

    On top of that, all this baloney about being able to keep your own healthcare — well, not unless it falls under all the bill’s stipulations as to what is a “qualified plan”. Otherwise, if not “qualified”, you will be paying a fine on top of your premiums to keep your current healthcare, even if you or your employer pay the full premiums.

    Right now, every plan that has been put out stinks in its total form. There may be bits and parts from each that are good, but none is even close to a winner.

    Again, if Congress exempts itself from the healthcare reform stipulations, we must not accept their crap.

  9. Dude

    This will all be over soon. on 10-10-09 Russia, China and the SCO are going to completely destroy America.

    This is the war of Armageddon and you can know that it is now because of the sign in the heavens that the govt is covering up with chemtrails every day. This is also the reason they are now classifying all asteroid events secret.

    News and sources here:

  10. jbaspen

    Ian, I think our brilliant & energetic Obama realizes that the powerful New York/Washington Establishment will block any meaningful reforms, whether those issues are foreign or social/economic (i.e., Health Care).
    Look at Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Immigration Reform. I think he’s desperate to finally cobble together a a progessive coalition to outflank these Mandarins. The alliance could consist of African Americans, Hispanics, American Moslems, anti-AIPAC Jewry, what’s left of Labor, and of course traditional progressives/liberals.
    My fear is that he doesn’t have the luxury of time. Like you, I have problems finding those “Green Shoots”. I could do a less visceral take, but ol’ Joe Bageant is spot on when he asserts that Obama has “appointed the same damn people who fucked it up to fix it”! I wonder whether this Faustian Bargain with his Party’s Neo-Liberals will destroy him as President?

  11. AR

    Seems to me that people who are currently uninsured will be in worse shape, since they will have even less money with which to get dental and eye care, or to pay for needed medication, not to mention healthy food, or music lessons for the kids. And since they can ill-afford the co-pays anyway, they still will delay going to the doctor. It’s worse that what we have now….

    ….especially if there is no requirement for the insurance companies to actually see to it that you can get the treatment prescribed by your doctor. If they can continue as usual, denying treatment and rescinding one’s insurance……can they still rescind, seeing as insurance is mandatory? And, if so, then what other insurer will accept the rescindee? Or does this give an excuse to jack up premiums? How is this supposed to work for us? It sounds more like a way to force us to pay even more money to the insurance companies, for no better health care than at present.
    As an uninsured, I’d prefer the option of paying for my own healthcare at the same rate as the insurance companies pay, instead of being gouged for 4 to 10 times as much in fees. I hope there will at least be an option under “reform” to just buy into the ability to get the group rate, for a nominal fee, then pay all costs myself. Since canceling my rip-off insurance over six years ago, I haven’t even spent the equivalent of one month’s premium, and I see my GP and get blood work every year.

  12. gtash

    Keep Your Eyes Open–
    I agree that whatever plan is good for the pubic should include the Congress and the civil service workers. Buying extra coverage could be a personal option and , if there were a public option in the first place, the costs for optional coverage ought to come down as well.

    But all of this is a step on the path to single payer, and the journey of a thousand miles has to begin with that very first, real step…not the promise of a step, not the hope of a step, and certainly not a backward step.

  13. gtash

    And the pubic plan should also be a public plan…. sorry.

  14. tatere

    I don’t know what is holding [Obama] back from going all Roosevelt.

    Nothing is “holding him back”. He simply has no inclination to do it. He is a status quo “free-market” center-right politician – what gets called a “liberal” in modern Establishment America political terms. Democratic Party politics required him to talk about “health care reform” in the primaries, and having done so, to continue to talk about it now. But what actually gets done has little to do with how it will be described.

    I think that people aren’t agitating for anything more for a couple of reasons. First, how exactly you would go about “agitating” in any kind of really useful way is completely unclear. If you had MILLIONS of people coming out in street protests, you might maybe possibly have some kind of impact, but even that kind of improbably huge action could easily be ignored. There’s no tradition for it in this country, people won’t believe it could happen until it does happen, so you’re caught in Catch-22.

    Second, very few people really believe that anything better is possible, and they feel like their experience has been that anything a politician does that’s labeled as an “improvement” just ultimately ends up making things worse. (That may not be true but I think it’s the perception – it’s the bug that gets your attention.) There is no sense of democracy, of the citizens being in charge. More like peasants and royalty – palace gossip is always good for a laugh, but mostly you hope that you never see them, so you can get on with your life as best you can.

  15. And just exactly how are they going to “make” me buy it?

  16. And the public option is itself pathetic.

  17. jawbone

    Sounds like feed the parasites time:

    5) Must buy insurance unless it costs more than 15% of your income

    Well, that means someone must buy an insurance policy for $7500/year if earning $50,000/year. But that doesn’t mean it won’t cost much, much, much more: c0-pays, deductibles, prescription co-pays (or no coverage). Oh, and rescissions?

    Hillary said her plan would imit cost to X-percent of income. Did she ever give a figure?

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