Monday 8 June 2009

Republicans redefine the word "bipartisanship" on health care

Some Democrats are trying to work with the Republicans on the health care issue, in an effort to craft a bipartisan solution. They have showed willingness to give ground on point after point.

What has the Republican response been? To reject everything except the status quo.

No to an independent insurance board.
No to the public option (and of course no to single payer).
No to mandating employer participation (but yes to employee participation).
No to health care information technology.
No to comparative effectiveness research.
No to eliminating overpayments to insurers.

In other words, to Republicans, "bipartisanship" means "the Democrats surrender".

So sometime soon the Democrats are going to fling their hands in the air, give up on the Republicans, and work for a 51-vote public-option victory in the Senate.

Some want a bill by August, while others want to give the GOP until October to pull their heads out of their asses and play ball. Given the GOP's proven track record of obstructive tactics, I'd be more inclined to look for a bill later rather than sooner.

Logically, single-payer makes the most sense because the insurers have been stealing our money for years and need to be crushed. But there is something attractive about the public option: if we go with single-payer, the insurers are wiped out by government fiat, but if we go with public option, they will be wiped out by the power of the market, since they can't compete and win on an honest, level playing field. That way, all of America will see how they've been ripping us off. The millions of American families who went bankrupt even though they did have coverage from an insurer who refused to help them during a catastrophic illness -- they already know the insurers are crooks. But it would be good for all of America to see them publicly exposed.

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