Monday 21 September 2009

Baucus amends plan, gives us nine whole dollars per person!

Here’s a quick recap of the continuum of health reform options, going from left to right:

Single payer
Two of the three House public options
The House Energy and Commerce Committee public option
HELP public option
Snowe’s trigger
Baucus’ coops
Doing nothing

Firedoglake points out that Snowe’s trigger option is worthless because the overall Baucus bill ensures that the terms of the trigger will never be met.

Ross, a key Blue Dog, is trying to help Conrad sell Baucus’ coops as the compromise solution. As Firedoglake points out, Ross admitted that experts think a coop would need half a million members to survive, which would be extremely difficult since Ross’s home state, Arkansas, only has 3 million people, and has lots of local restrictions placed on coops. Obama’s stance is that the Baucus bill is a "pretty big burden on middle class families"; we can’t have mandates without affordable policies, and Baucus doesn’t get us there. The AMA criticized the Baucus plan too.

Baucus responded by bumping up the subsidies to consumers – but only $2.8 billion a year. That comes out to about nine dollars per person.

Per year.


If we go coop, it would need to be a strong national coop with all the state-level restrictions removed, and if we go trigger, it would need to be a realistic trigger with a sensible threshold for affordability, as Obama intimated. Perhaps we could do both: a strong coop with a more sensitive trigger toward the public option if the coops don’t get it done. Either way, we need federal guarantees so that we always have a competitive option to counterbalance the private-insurance crooks.

Meanwhile the GOP obstruction continues. The latest Republican poison-pill proposal to come to light: John Ensign wants to go through every page of the bill, and any time a fee pops up, he wants to insert the word “TAX!” in big red letters. And of course the networks were doing Ensign’s work for him, trying to push the “reform equals tax increase” meme this weekend.

Booman thinks we’re still heading for reconciliation. Some point out that under the reconciliation scenario, the chair (Vice President Biden) can overrule the Senate parliamentarian on anything he wants, but even the Bush-era Republicans didn’t go that far, and some Democrats would hesitate. Currently the Democrats, if they need to, will use reconciliation only under existing traditions (i.e. listening to the parliamentarian) and only as a last resort.

Meanwhile, more of the crimes and follies of the insurers are being exposed. Justifications for cancelling coverage include being a cop or fireman, having acne (which includes almost all of us), having bunions, being an expectant mother or father, taking Lipitor or Advair, or planning to adopt a child.

**UPDATE** -- ...and C-sections too.

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