6.19.2009

You'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath

And lo, the Democrats' plan for health care is unveiled. From the Times:
House Democrats on Friday answered President Obama’s call for a sweeping overhaul of the health care system by putting forward a 852-page draft bill that would require all Americans to obtain health insurance, force employers to provide benefits or help pay for them, and create a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers — a move that Republicans will bitterly oppose.
I am happy with the inclusion of both mandates and a public health option. I don't see how meaningful health care reform can be expected to succeed without it. While I (obviously) haven't actually reviewed the bill itself, from what I gather it sounds consistent with what I would have wanted.

We shall see how quickly all the good bits are beaten out of it.
The three chairmen described their bill as a starting point in a weeks-long legislative endeavor that they said would dominate Congress for the summer and ultimately involve the full panorama of stakeholders in the health care industry, which accounts for about one-sixth of the nation’s economy. They described their efforts as the historic culmination of a half-century of failed attempts across the tenure of a dozen presidents.

Mr. Miller, a Democrat of California, said that completing a bill would require extraordinary cooperation among lawmakers. “In order to change American’s health care system,” he declared, “Congress itself must change.”
And 3... 2... 1... cue GOP talking points.
“Families and small businesses who are already footing the bill for Washington’s reckless spending binge will not support it,” the Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, said in a statement. “Raising taxes, rationing care, and empowering government bureaucrats — not patients and doctors — to make key medical decisions is not reform.”
I've spoken about the question of "rationing" elsewhere, so I won't repeat myself. (In a nutshell, your private insurance company "rations" your care all the time by refusing to pay for things, they just don't use that particular term.) Suffice it to say that I don't really have a lot of hope that "Congress itself" is too keen to change.
The House proposal unveiled on Friday was a decidedly progressive measure, which reflected many of the ideas championed by the White House, including such initiatives as the creation of public insurance plan, which Republicans have said they will never support.

In the Senate, lawmakers have been working on a number of potential compromise proposals, including the creation of nonprofit health care cooperatives that could compete with private insurers but would be regulated rather than controlled by the federal government.
I don't really know enough about the concept of health care cooperatives to comment with authority, but there must be a nonprofit alternative to private insurance. Private companies will always favor measures that improve their profits over the welfare of their customers, which they are all to happy to concede. But considering that the GOP will "never support" a public health insurance program (and assuming the Democrats will be their usual ineffectual selves at countering their opposition), the cooperatives may be a necessary alternative.
The House proposal also included a requirement that employers either provide health insurance or pay a fee equal to 8 percent of their payroll. The House chairmen said that the 8 percent figure, along with virtually every other aspect of the draft legislation, was negotiable and intended as a starting point for deliberations.

But Republicans have voiced opposition to imposing any such requirement on employers, arguing that it would effectively lead to the elimination of jobs.
What Republicans won't voice, however, is any acknowledgement of the reality that health care costs are crippling American business, which must shed jobs to pay for the mounting expense of insuring their workers. Which would be an argument for a public health insurance program... the ones they will never support.

3 comments:

  1. Just a quick note: one of the nice things about having multiple sources for healthcare insurance is that I can choose what kind of "rationing" I get in such a marketplace. True, I have not pay for it, but then, at least I can choose to pay for a premium plan if I believe it is worth it, and also choose a catastrophic-only plan if I want to spend my life's efforts elsewhere.

    ObamaCare will be a single, monolithic system, as best I understand what little of it is known, with rationing decisions made without my help by insular, far away Health and Budget Czars. I'm not convinced that is a better system than the present mess we have.

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  2. GJ, where on earth are you getting the idea that ObamaCare (if you will) will be a single, monolithic system?

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  3. From the DMV and the USPS.

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