Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Health Care: Good News & Bad News on The Public Option

Here's some good news. The merged House health care bill is expected to hit the floor tomorrow. The bad news? The public option included is expected to be a negotiated rates "level playing field" program that may even resemble the Senate bill in including a state opt-out. If this happens, it looks like we may be stuck with the opt-out. Chris Bowers says this bill may not be able to pass the House, but I don't know if Nancy Pelosi will allow for that, especially after she gave progressives some time to round up votes for the Medicare+5 public option.

Oh, but here's some good news on the Senate side. Even "Queen Triggers" Olympia Snowe herself doesn't expect any triggers to be added to the merged Senate bill! So if "Holy Joe" Loserman expected his move yesterday would result in a weakened public option that would never be allowed to "trigger", even Olympia Snowe is doubting that will work.

Also on the Senate side, a number of real Democrats are speaking up and rebutting Loserman's many lies on the public option.

"I think one of the problems the leader is working that there have been a number of theories about what a public option is that have been kicked around," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in response to a question from TPMDC. "On the Senate side, in the [HELP] Committee, we chose to...make sure that these public options were self sustaining."

Lieberman has suggested both that the public option would be a drain on taxpayers, and that it would drive up private insurance premiums, in contrast to the findings of most experts.

"I think there's a bit of a function of trying to make sure that everybody's clear exactly what it is that we're proposing," Whitehouse said. "I think once the actual text of the bill is out and it's clear that the HELP language is what was adopted. I think we'll be successfully able to make the case to Senator Lieberman that there is not a subsidy here and it is not an entitlement."

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) added his own two cents as well.

"Any low income, or moderate income person coming into the exchange brings a can take the subsidy and buy Aetna, you can take that subsidy to buy the public option. So the public option gets nothing better or worse...than any private company that's involved in the exchange," Brown said.

And in case, anyone out there is believing media reports on Harry Reid being trashed for being "too liberal", good ol' Chuck Schumer will have none of it.

Asked by a different reporter if his potential defection lends credence to the idea that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ought to have chosen a more moderate course, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) leapt to Reid's defense.

"We are working with leader Reid on getting 60 votes... I am optimistic that we will get those 60 votes," Schumer said. Harry Reid is the best vote counter and vote getter that I have ever seen in my 35 years as a legislator."

And finally, MyDD caught the latest Gallup poll on health care. Voters trust President Obama on health care matters by a 55-45 margin while voters distrust Congressional Republicans by a 62-37 margin. Yikes! So ultimately if Obama wants to bring this baby home, Americans are more willing to believe what he's saying than the lying liars on the far right.

So there you have it. The public option is overall looking better, even though the House's version likely won't be much or any stronger than the Senate version as originally hoped. "Holy Joe" is still throwing a temper tantrum in the Senate, but hardly anyone is taking him seriously. And if President Obama really wants to be a hero, he can be a real force to be reckoned with to get this bill passed.

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