Tag Archives: public option

Final Push For Reform

11 Mar


I’ve negotiated with my inner Kucinich and made peace with the health insurance reform bill.  It’s time to finish the job.

By the way, a couple of points on the status of the bill and the reporting I’ve seen/read on the remainder of the process. It’s important to note that we’re not “passing” healthcare reform through reconciliation. The bill(s) already “passed” with the required votes in both houses, a majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate. Now, the House will pass the Senate bill and changes which affect the budget will be applied through reconciliation, a valid and well used procedure. That’s it. The big commie muslim socialist black man will not be (c)ramming his big black reform plan down anyone’s throat. Language matters. I digress…

The bill is not perfect and it is not what I wanted it to be when the process began and it is a product of a very flawed system.  However, it is the first step toward real, long-term reform in our healthcare system.  Incrementalism is the reality in our corporate political world until the bright shining day arrives when money is taken out of politics.


We’ve listened to what FreedomWorks, AHIP, PhRMA, and the rabid teabaggers had to say.  The bill has been watered down to the point where progressives barely recognize it anymore. The Democrats adopted 161 of 201 proposed GOP amendments to the Healthcare bill and did not receive one single affirmative GOP vote as a reward for their compromises.

The final Senate bill includes all four planks of the GOP’s proposed alternative plan, including buying insurance across state lines, tougher medicaid/medicare fraud prevention strategies, empowerment for states to implement the plan in different ways, tort reform and purchasing pools for small business. It’s all in the bill.

In fact, one could say that this bill combines the best parts of the GOP plan and the worst of the Democratic plan. Primarily, it lacks a public option, single payer provisions and is entirely based on regulating the private market.  It is possible that a public option could be brought back into the bill through reconciliation with 41 Senators now signed on to support that effort (including Schumer and Gillibrand), but I won’t hold my breath.

Since the Democrats would not receive one single, solitary vote no matter what bill they put forward, I thought they should have simply pushed forward a bill with a robust public option and the regulations needed to make an immediate impact on the system.  However, the will was lacking in the Democratic Party as many of the legislators are just as indentured to the insurance and medical lobby as their counterparts on the right.

So, the bill we have is the one the system is willing to give us at this point.  With a minority party more interested in opposing then governing, this is what happens.  When Democratic Senators are operating as lobbyists for Wellpoint, UHC and Aetna, this is what we get.  As is often said nowadays, it is what it is.  My hope is that once this bill is put in place, further reforms will be enacted, market protections will increase, coverage will be expanded and we’ll eventually end up with a more perfect healthcare system.  Perhaps the Democrats might embrace a simple four page bill that should have been the starting point for this reform process.  To stop now simply guarantees that nothing will be done.

I chose the “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” video from the Obama campaign because it was a seminal moment in a historic campaign.  Whatever you thought of Obama then or whatever you think of him now, he speaks truth in that clip.  Change and reform are only possible if we advocate for it, fight for it, demand it.  If we push our legislators to demand better, more and faster.  Perhaps the grassroots on the left was disenfranchised from the start and were drowned out by the astroturf millions on the right during the formative portions of this process.  Perhaps the monied interests have a bigger ownership stake in our legislators than we do, but we have what we have.

The time is now for the grassroots to demand that something be done.  To remind them that we voted for this President and gave a sweeping mandate to the Democratic Party to enact this legislation, as imperfect as it is.

Legalized Bribery?

13 Nov

Lawrence Lessig and Change Congress take a look at why two specific Democratic Senators (Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman) might oppose inclusion of the public option in the pending healthcare reform bill.


It’s easy to be cynical, point fingers and accuse Lieberman of corruption, but the problem itself is actually much more nuanced.  The issue isn’t that politicians do the bidding of interests who pay for them to win re-election, it’s that we allow for those payments to happen at all.

Take some time to see how a solution can be implemented.

The shorter version:


The longer, more historical version:


Until we publicly fund our elections and remove the influence of money from the policy making process, we’ll never get sensible legislation on important issues.  It’s how we ended up with the watered down reform bill recently passed by the House and now under consideration in the Senate.

Change Congress.

For Me, But Not for Thee

23 Oct

This is the very pinnacle of hypocrisy. Representative Anthony Weiner (NY-9) has identified 55 Republican members of Congress who currently receive single-payer Medicare, but oppose the comparatively tame public option. The list includes such anticommunist luminaries as Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss.

Also, here are a couple of great clips:



The full list is after the jump. Continue reading

The Health Insurance Opt-Out Compromise

9 Oct

It’s being debated now – that a strong public option will be made available to those who want it, but states can choose to opt out of it completely if they want.

Rather than paraphrase what Robert Harding writes here, I’ll link to it, and you can read it for yourself. It’s good policy, and for Democrats, it’s also good politics.

Health and the Public Option

29 Sep

Today, the Senate Finance Committee rejected two separate amendments to the health insurance reform plan that would have instituted a public health insurance option, a federal health insurance plan that would be subsidized on a sliding scale depending on need, and offer affordable, quality health insurance coverage to anyone who wants it. Contrary to “socialized medicine” screamers, this plan would require people to pay a premium. Just like you do now, if you’re fortunate enough to have coverage of some sort.

This would most benefit people in the middle class who are not Medicare or Medicaid eligible, and are self-employed. The non-employer-backed health insurance market is the most expensive with the least regulation and worst coverage.

Two separate public option amendments proposed by Senators Rockefeller and Schumer were defeated, with the help of all ten Republicans on the Finance Committee, as well as Democratic Senators Baucus of Montana, Carper of Delaware, Conrad of North Dakota, Lincoln of Arkansas, and Nelson of Florida.

The Republicans, naturally, are dead-set against any sort of universal health care or government option. That led to this phenomenal exchange between Senators Grassley and Schumer:

Democrats quickly rose up to answer the charges, including Mr. Schumer, who challenged Mr. Grassley to spell out his views on Medicare, the government insurance plan for Americans over age 65 and for the disabled.

“I just want to know what you think of Medicare, which is a much more government-run program,” Mr. Schumer said.

“I think that Medicare is part of the social fabric of America just like Social Security is,” Mr. Grassley said. “To say that I support it is not to say that it’s the best system that it could be.”

“But it is a government-run plan,” Mr. Schumer shot back.

Mr. Grassley, a veteran Senate debater, insisted that Medicare did not pose a threat to the private insurance industry. “It’s not easy to undo a Medicare plan without also hurting a lot of private initiatives that are coupled with it,” he said.

Mr. Schumer pounced. “You are supportive of Medicare,” he said. “I just don’t understand the difference. That’s a government-run plan and the main knock you have made on Senator Rockefeller’s amendment, and I am sure on mine, is that it’s government-run.”

The battle for a public option is not dead, but it is on life support. The Times reports that Senate Majority “Leader” Harry Reid will not include a public option in whatever bill goes to the full Senate for a vote, so it will be up to Senators like Rockefeller and Schumer to bring it up again on the floor.

Seriously, the Republicans are a better majority caucus with 40 members in the Senate than the Democrats are with 60.

Louise Slaughter on the Public Option

20 Aug

Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-28) discusses her support for a strong public option for health insurance reform: