Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part E

The Hill reports on developments in the House of Representatives:

Say hello to "Medicare Part E" -- as in, "Medicare for Everyone."

House Democrats are looking at re-branding the public health insurance option as Medicare, an established government healthcare program that is better known than the public option.

This plan is intriguing, but House Democrats would be well served to consider both the positives and the negatives associated with it.

Medicare is a widely popular program -- a Bloomberg poll from September of this year found that a whopping 79 percent of the country held a favorable opinion towards the program while just 16 percent viewed it unfavorably. If Americans believed what they were getting with healthcare reform was the choice of Medicare, which is understood and popular, instead of the choice of a public option, which is less understood and less popular (though by no means unpopular), they might be more willing to support the final legislation.

That said, the public option does not allow all Americans to buy into the existing Medicare program, at least not how it is currently devised. Instead, the public option allows those who cannot afford insurance the choice of a public alternative to private insurance companies. The difference isn't huge, but it is important. If all Americans believe that they are going to have this choice but then come to find out down the road that the choice is limited to only those who cannot afford private insurance -- a significant minority of the country, but still a minority -- they might not be too pleased.

Nevertheless, it's an interesting proposition.

Tags: healthcare reform, Medicare Part E, Public Option (all tags)

Comments

18 Comments

Re: Rebranding the Public Option

That said, the public option does not allow all Americans to buy into the existing Medicare program, at least not how it is currently devised. Instead, the public option allows those who cannot afford insurance the choice of a public alternative to private insurance companies.

Splitting hairs.  The current medicare program doesn't allow "all Americans" to buy in.  Only those who need to.

"Medicare E" would allow any American who couldn't get insurance to buy in.  Theoretically, any American who needed it (i.e. could not get it elsewhere) could get insurance through the public option.

by lojasmo 2009-10-20 07:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option

Yes, but ALL 65 year olds and older folk are eligible and get Medicare Part A for free.  You do have to sign up, though.  I knew one stubborn old lady who refused to sign up for it 'cos of pride.  Eventually, she got admitted to the hospital, and she had to sign up 15 years late!

by LordMike 2009-10-20 08:11PM | 0 recs
This is a terrific idea

I dont know why Democrats havent thought of this earlier.  

by Kent 2009-10-20 08:08PM | 0 recs
Re: This is a terrific idea

Sherrod Brown told me that if we actually pushed for "Medicare for all" using the word Medicare, our prospects would have been a lot easier up to this point.

Interesting that Waxman doesn't like it 'cos it might lead to single payer!  I'm surprised he, of all people, would complain about that!

by LordMike 2009-10-20 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

The point is branding. I am happy to see they are belatedly getting this. I said sometime ago to one of my detractors here that the solution regarding the public option was to call it medicare. They too were overly focused on whether the public option was actually medicare or not.

The point is that most Americans conceptually know the brand called medicare, but do not necessarily understand the brand called "public option."  It's like saying Mercedes versus saying Car X.  Both will let the reader know you are referring to a car, but only one of those will solicited a branded response.

It is amazing to me that people who claims to be so connected to Hollywood and Madison Avenue continuously gets punked in the branding department by Republicans.

As for where the Medicare program is now, this is not necessarily where it needs to be in a few years when the popularity of the program catches on.

The Medicare for all (Or Medicare Part E) along with repeal of the antitrust exemptions are the best hope for reform this year.

by bruh3 2009-10-20 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

I'm a little worried that they may be getting overconfident and jumping the shark here... Let's remember that Medicare is a great program, but it's also in trouble financially.  The GOP will certainly use that as a new attack on the public option.

It certainly does raise a high bar... People expect a lot out of medicare.  They certainly may be disappointed with what they actually get in the end.  Medicare Part A is free.  Part B costs $100 a month.  No public option plan presented comes close to competing with that!

by LordMike 2009-10-20 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

a) Yes, voters will look at the program passed this year as inadequate and want to expand Medicare Part E in the future. This is a bad thing how? That's part of its strategic value.

b) If I were only paying 100 bucks a month right now, I would be flipping cartwheels down the street. But seriously, yes, the cost issue with not wholly be addressed through medicare for all, but it is a good start.

Part of the reason, as least I remember reading this, that Medicare has problems is that its customer base are old and sickly rather than including more of the young and healthy.  I think adding younger and more healthy people may help.

by bruh3 2009-10-20 08:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

Sorry to have been concern trolling... Yes, A) is a great point, and something I like.  I guess my only real concern is the late change of strategy... will it be good marketing?  Had we been pushing on this from the beginning, I'd be more confident.  Hopefully, it will work.  I think it will.  It certainly is going to put the Senate on the defensive!

by LordMike 2009-10-20 08:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

Eh.  Bush's push for war was completely half-assed. Americans are indeed stupid enough.  Look at the response to those dumb-assed teabaggers.

by lojasmo 2009-10-20 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

I don't know if the timing is a factor. However, I do believe that they should throw everything they have at the situation rather than holding back. So, they should use this. Everything and the kitchen sink.

Another complaint I have about the Democratic progressives is that they respond to moves by the GOP and conservative Democrats with a ritualized dance that allows the GOP and conservative Democrats to punk progressives like Charlie gets punked by Lucy. Changing the rules on the Republicans and conservative Democrats makes it hard for them to respond effectively to us. When the other side does not know your next move, it gives you greater power in negotiation.

One of these gamechangers is negotiation style. Big Tent Democrat refers to this as the Mad Man Theory of negotiation. I prefer to call it what game theory calls it- brinkmanship. Progressives in the past were counted on to just roll over and fetch, but by threatening to torpedo the bill- to go over the edge, they won power to negotiate a better deal.

An additional way to win power is narrative. Narrative is in part not re-inventing the story telling wheel.  This is another way to throw the GOP and conservative Democrats off base. They expected us to come up with wonky responses about this or that reason why public option is better because a public option is not medicare. Meanwhile, they make shit up like "death panels." We get an A for technically presenting complexity. And an F for presenting complexity in a way that is elegant and emotional in its understanding. Medicare Part E is elegant as a narrative. The  label public option is not.

When Rep. Weiner did that ploy with medicare in the House committee with the Republican who said he was against government programs for health care, this was a smart move because Weiner was in control of the narrative. It did not control him. This is the value of these tactics to the progressives. Not just with this legislation, but with other battles in the future.

by bruh3 2009-10-20 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

It's only in trouble because the sick/end of life patients are a majority of it's recipients.  medicare for all would be win ++

by lojasmo 2009-10-20 08:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option

This actually seems like an old meme.

http://www.medicareforall.org/pages/Stat us_by_Individual

Nice that Oberstar signed on, but's it's a Kucinich pipe dream.

It's good that they're using it for framing, though.

Oscar Uno Tango.

by lojasmo 2009-10-20 08:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Public Option

the choice is limited to only those who cannot afford private insurance

This is a major problem. If the public option is considered public aid it will be stigmatized and health care providers, predominately Republican, will refuse to accept it, greatly limiting the value. Medicare has the advantage of large and lucrative numbers. It hurts to deny Medicare patients because a substantial portion of sales and revenue are lost thereby.

A public option limited to the poor is just Medicaid. Medicaid seems attractive until you actually experience it.

by antiHyde 2009-10-21 03:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding the Public Option as Medicare Part

As a provider, I have real concerns about this proposed rebranding. Medicare is and has been underfunded for its mission for about 10 years.  Almost all of its recent regulatory changes (and there are many every week) are about limiting providers and making more hurdles to reimbursement.  I fear that you will loose provider support for health care reform with this casual renaming of the public option.  

by jono 2009-10-21 04:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Congratulations

Over 8 hours old, 11 posts. No bashing. sweet.

by QTG 2009-10-21 05:09AM | 0 recs
My issue

Isn't with the naming, or blending the public option in some way with Medicare.

No, my current worry is that we get a public option that isn't open to ALL.  In other words, I want the choice for people who have insurance through work, and who work at mid-to-large companies (i.e., MOST of America).

by MtnFrost 2009-10-21 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Medicare Part E

Marketing, marketing, marketing...

An idea is only as good as your ability to sell it.  You could cure cancer and AIDS and solve global warming, but it wouldn't matter if you couldn't get anyone to implement your ideas.

by Will Johnston 2009-10-21 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Rebranding

 If it isn't Medicare for All, then why lie about it? Just sayin'

by QTG 2009-10-21 12:01PM | 0 recs

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