Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Health Care: No Mo' Public Option? UPDATED with Reid's Promise That "Public Option Is Still in Bill"

UPDATE (10:40 PM): We finally have a clearer statement from Harry Reid...

In his comments to reporters, Reid said the emerging compromise "includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways: one, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices."

It wasn't clear what he meant by a "public option," the Medicare expansion or a fallback in case private insurance companies declined to participate in the nationwide plan envisioned to be overseen by the Office of Personnel Management. One possibility was for the agency to set up a government-run plan, either national in scope or on a state-by-state basis.

Under the tentative agreement, liberals lost their bid to expand Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health care for the poor, elderly and disabled. But they prevailed on the Medicare expansion, and the negotiators appeared ready to maintain a separate health care program for children until 2013, two years longer than the bill currently calls for, according to officials familiar with the details.

Additionally, there was consensus support for a requirement long backed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and other liberals for insurance companies to spend at least 90 percent of their premium income providing benefits, a step that supporters argue effectively limits their spending on advertising, salaries, promotional efforts and profits.

Except that we still don't know for sure what this "public option" is. The Medicare buy-in ONLY available to those aged 55-64? Or the still for-profit plans to be overseen by the federal government a la the federal employee plans? Or the "Olympia Snowe Trigger" that's designed never to actually trigger a public option? Or something resembling a real Medicare-like plan open to more people? Maybe all of the above?

Stay tuned here at Nevada Progressive for more updates on this late breaking news of the Senate health care bill. I'm still trying to figure out what all of this means. And once we find the truth of the matter here, we'll let you know... And explain why we're either relieved or furious.


OK, I don't know what the f*ck to think now.

Is Open Left right?

Now, it looks like a deal has been struck in the Senate to replace the opt-out public option for a weak Medicare buy-in. There were reason [sic] to be interested in the Medicare buy-in, but the current deal will only be open to Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 who are uninsured.


But Democratic aides said that the group had tentatively agreed on a proposal that would replace a government-run health care plan with a menu of new national, privately-run insurance plans modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which covers more than eight million federal workers, including members of Congress, and their dependents.

A government-run plan would be retained as a fall-back option, the aides said, and would be triggered only if the new proposal failed to meet targets for providing affordable insurance coverage to a specified number of people.

The agreement would also allow Americans between age 55 and 64 to buy coverage through Medicare, beginning in 2011.

Or is TPM right?

Lawmakers have suggested in recent days that the compromises under discussion were meant to replace the national public option that's currently in the bill. The Associated Press as the New York Times are even reporting that the public option is gone. Tonight, though, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that might not be the case. "All the things you've read in the newspapers...'the public option is gone,'--it's not true," Reid said at an impromptu press conference after tonight's meeting broke.

Reid wouldn't elaborate further--and it's worth noting that in recent days, aides and members have tried to characterize some of the ideas on the table as a form of "public option" when in fact none of them are. But it looks like we'll know definitively by the end of the week--and maybe sooner.

"I already know that all 60 senators in my caucus don't agree on every piece of the merger," Reid said. "I know that what we've sent over there to CBO--will send to them tomorrow--not everyone's going to agree on every piece that we've sent over there, but that doesn't mean that we disagree on what we've sent to them."

Honestly, I'm just as confused as you are right now. Who are we to believe? Is the public option in or out of the Senate bill? Is there a trigger or not? What the hell just happened??!!

I want answers. We should demand answers. Hopefully tomorrow, we'll get more details. It just seems like there was a brief glimpse of hope for a decent bill, and now it may all be gone.

Oh please, I do not want to think of what will happen if Reid abandons all principles for more ConservaDem crap.

1 comment:

  1. The public option is obviously as dead as a doornail. My advice to the progressives is to take what they can get now.

    I don't know what kind of health care reform will come out of this session, but I strongly suspect it won't be much. There is, however a silver lining behind this very dark cloud. I am reminded of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Don't be embarrassed if you've never heard of it, there really isn't a hell of a lot to remember about it; a mere pittance, really - a scrap of leftovers tossed out to "American Negros" (in the parlance of the age) in order to appease them. But it made the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - the one we remember - all the more easier seven years later.

    We'll live to fight another day.


    Tom Degan