Senate health care bill looking worse every day

Health care reform bills approved by Senate committees prohibited insurance companies from limiting how many dollars they would spend on a patient's care during a year. This makes sense if your goal is to eliminate medical bankruptcies, which are unknown in most of the developed world.

But the merged Senate bill gives insurance companies an out:

As currently written, the Senate Democratic health care bill would permit insurance companies to place annual limits on the dollar value of medical care, as long as those limits are not "unreasonable." The bill does not define what level of limits would be allowable, delegating that task to administration officials. [...]

Officials of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said they were taken by surprise when the earlier ban on annual coverage limits was undercut, adding that they have not been able to get a satisfactory explanation.

"We don't know who put it in, or why it was put in," said Stephen Finan, a policy expert with the cancer society's advocacy affiliate.

Ezra Klein has supported most of the compromises made along the way, including ditching the public health insurance option, but even he thinks this is crazy:

The Senate Finance Committee barred annual caps altogether. The merged Senate bill only erases "unreasonable" annual caps. What's "unreasonable?" Hard to say.

Hill sources explain that this was inserted because CBO said premiums would "go through the roof" if insurers couldn't cap benefits. [...]

This, however, obscures the choice that's being made. The tradeoff here is slightly higher premiums for everyone versus total financial ruin for the people who absolutely need help the most. Politically, choosing "everyone" rather than "people with cancer" makes sense, because the first group has more votes than the second. But on a policy level, it's nuts. Health-care insurance literally exists to protect us from the worst-case scenarios. This provision says that the Senate bill will protect everyone but the truly worst-case scenarios. If you assume that people support the basic concept of health-care insurance, then they don't, or shouldn't, support this.

How do you think this huge "progressive victory" will go over if insurance companies are still forcing cancer patients into bankruptcy in 2012?

Tags: annual caps, Congress, health care reform, health insurance, Senate (all tags)

Comments

48 Comments

Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

That is ridiculous. I can see why the insurance companies, who care more about profits than people, would want it, but which damned senators introduced this idea?

by Nathan Empsall 2009-12-11 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

When they heard that the public option was taken out of the bill, as reported on Americablog- an insurance industry official simply said "we won!" That sums up how stupid the Democratic progressives and those making excuses for them have negotiated on this subject. You can also be sure that this is only one of many loop holes sense parts of the legislation was approved by the industry lobbists. Moreover, we are going to see more clusterfucks like today with the big pharmacy deal. Finally, to add to the situation of what failed strategy has unleashed, they are reporting over at Daily kos that abortion may once more be on the table.

by bruh3 2009-12-11 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

Ummm, you may have noticed it's not progressives who are holding up the PO - but Nelson/Lieberman/Lincoln + the GOP.

by vecky 2009-12-11 01:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

These people have no power that progressives and President Obama are not giving to them. There are several options that they could take but refuse to do so. Taking away Lieberman's chairmanship, killing the filibuster, threatening them on other bills, calling their bluffs rather than capitulating to them, cutting off access to the president, Reid doing his job  rather than avoiding it, Pelosi have a backbone by saying no to anything the Senate does, and on and on. I don't expect you to admit to this Vecky. The game is always denial. And it works for the vast bulk of the public.

by bruh3 2009-12-11 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

How did Obama and Progressives make the 60 vote rule in the Senate?

by vecky 2009-12-11 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

 I list that they can destroy the filibuster and you respond back how can they get over 60? Do you see a problem with your thinking?

by bruh3 2009-12-11 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

There aren't even 50 votes to destroy the filibuster. What does your math tell you?

by vecky 2009-12-11 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

Yet oddly enough there are 50 some Senators who are not the 4 obstructionists. And oddly enough the gang of 14 were able to threaten the filibuster previously. Weird. It must be that we don't have any power at all. That also certainly explain the phrama deals and Reid re-inserting the cap issue. As I said, denial thy name is Vecky.

by bruh3 2009-12-11 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

I can count atleast 12 Democrat votes against the destroying filibuster. None of them are Progressives.

What does your math say?

by vecky 2009-12-11 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

My math says vecky that I I said the sky is blue, and you thought it would harm obama, you would be arguing the sky is not blue. Thus, I am bowing out.

by bruh3 2009-12-11 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

This has nothing to do with Obama, it all about the Math.

Always has been.

by vecky 2009-12-11 02:20PM | 0 recs
To the bruh, everything has to do with Obama...

...and nothing has to do with logic.

We don't have 60 democratic votes. We're not even close. We might as well have 54 democratic votes.

Unlike the bruh, Obama is well aware of this reality.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-11 06:25PM | 0 recs
Gang of 14

During the 109th Congress, there were 45 Democrats in the Senate. 7 of them formed the part of the Gang of 14. You may have noticed but 45-7 = 38, no filibuster possible.

by vecky 2009-12-11 02:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

There are roughly THREE progressive democrats in the senate.

And Obama has NO power to "destroy" the filibuster.

by lojasmo 2009-12-11 03:04PM | 0 recs
You know...

I always thought the bruh wouldn't be one of these people who worshiped Obama and thought he was a god. But I guess I was wrong.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-11 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

While we we speaking of tying one's hands, and then claiming 'Oh no, I have no choice!" What of the decision with no explanation with to take reconciliation off the table by Reid or the president's "strange" decision to have a meeting but fail to mention the public option. And let's discuss the "progressives" in the House accepting the inclusion of the Stupak amendment while their own efforts to include medicare plus 5 was torpedoed in the same week. Or Pelosi saying she's open to going without the public option. What exactly is involved in that strategy? I'd love you and other 11 dimensional chess players to explain it to me.

by bruh3 2009-12-11 02:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

Reconciliation is still possible. But Ken Conrad will be charge of Reconciliation, and you know his stance on the PO...

by vecky 2009-12-11 02:23PM | 0 recs
Oh noes

Not more ugly reality.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-11 06:27PM | 0 recs
Because the President is more open monded than you

The PO is just a tool to control costs. As he always said, his sole goal is controlling costs, not creating a public insurance program, no matter how much we would like it.

We'll have it one day, but not today.

Others have noted the same. The public option has been picked up and carried about by progressives as this panacea, when it is neither a cure all nor the only solution.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-11 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

...but Barack Obama should have personally waterboarded the opposition!  </poutrage&gt

by fogiv 2009-12-11 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

Tom Harkin, of all people, defended it...

Fortunately, they got caught with their pants down and will find a fix of some sort:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/12/11/h ealth.care.benefit.caps/index.html

My guess will be some sort of reinsurance for folk who hit over $50K or so in benefits per year...

Keep calling your senators and do not let this creep back into the bill!!!

by LordMike 2009-12-11 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

High-risk reinsurance pool is absolutely necessary. There was some talk of it a couple of months ago. I wonder what happened to that idea.

by vecky 2009-12-11 09:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

I'm not sue why premiums would go "through the roof". Afterall the CBO scored both the SFC bill and the House bill and there was no change...

by vecky 2009-12-11 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse

Do you mean you're not sure why the CBO said that, or are you saying the CBO never said that at all?

by Steve M 2009-12-11 01:51PM | 0 recs
bad bill

I said  it before I say it again,this bill is crap. Its the product of a corrupt system. These people who have been elected are doing what is in there self interest from the standpoint of special interess. The best thing that could happen is for us to contact our Senators and demand they come up with a bill that reflects what we need, a robust public option with patient protections. If not, demand they vote against it. A bad bill isnt better than nothing at all. This bill as constructed if passed will lead to a healthcare system worse than what we currently have.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-11 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

I fail to see how the bill is worse than the current system... unless your arguing that lifetime and annual caps aren't part of the current system.

This is something that can be simply tweaked, so that caps don't apply to necessary procedures, only to voluntary or experimental procedures.

by vecky 2009-12-11 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

For one the mandates have the potential to punish folks who simply dont want to buy insurance, second it raises rates for many others....its a deeply flawed bill.....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-11 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Funny, business groups are saying the mandates ain't tough enough. $95 in 2014 is chump change.

But as I've said before about the mandates, simply remove the pre-existing conditions and recession from the bill and there is no need for mandates.

Because if you don't rates for everyone else WILL go up (as they are going up now). And that doesn't even begin to count the $100 billion taxpayers pay-out to compensate hospitals who uncompensated care...

by vecky 2009-12-11 06:19PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Ah yes, the mythical folks who simply want to be left there to die if they get hit by a bus.  I know so many of them.

by Steve M 2009-12-11 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Uninsured people are a HUGE cost driver.

by lojasmo 2009-12-12 04:35AM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

I still dont see how fining american citizens or threatening them with jail time is in anyway anything other than simply unconstitutional

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-12 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill
  1. It's a tax, not a fine.
  2. Jail time is already given for tax evasion, and it's clearly not unconstitutional.
by lojasmo 2009-12-12 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Call it a tax, call it a fine....either way its a crap concept.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-12 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

No...it isn't.  Uninsured are a huge cost driver.  This is a method to prevent that from being as problematic as it currently is.

by lojasmo 2009-12-12 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Individual responsibility is hardly a crap concept.

by vecky 2009-12-12 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Your right, so its interesting when I point out that many of the health issues burdening the economy today are due to obesity. The response I get from folks here is basically, its not an individual's fault if they are obese, if they eat poorly and dont excercise. Its everyone elses fault...

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-12 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Obesity is certianly an individual responsibility.

But that doesn't mean to combat it we can't be aware of the causes for it. Our food is simply fatty, and the cheaper it is, the fattier it is.

Consider a double cheeseburger at Burger Kings costs $1. A healthier uncooked piece of fish or lean steak will cost you 2-3 times that.

by vecky 2009-12-12 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: bad bill

Annual caps are relatively rare... lifetime caps are common, but with annual caps at let's say, $50,000.... you wouldn't reach a lifetime cap of $2 million for 40 years, so it's pointless to remove the lifetime caps if you have annual caps... the annual caps would never allow the lifetime caps to even come into play...

by LordMike 2009-12-11 08:50PM | 0 recs
Can Democrats get through 2010 with no reform?

Very likely we lose the House and the Senate, but thats OK.  At least Obama can be bipartisan now and get reelected.  

by Kent 2009-12-11 02:49PM | 0 recs
Does anybody remember Debby Downer?

Even at this low point, the Cook Report is not forecasting a swing in either house.

The GOP will pick up seats, that's for sure. But they won't gain control.

And then there's 2012.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-11 06:30PM | 0 recs
no bill better than a bad one

If a bad bill like the Senate fails, I really don't think that's such a bad thing for the Democrats.  I know the GOP will be gloating, but
this bill is becoming an unrecognizable box of junk.  

Reid compromised and compromised...and still can't get to 60.  He never should have taken reconciliation off the table.

So let's come back next spring with some incremental reforms to improve competition, drug importation, etc. and drop the deals.

Then in 2011, with smaller majorities, use reconciliation to get a public option.  Reid will be gone anyway.

by esconded 2009-12-11 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: no bill better than a bad one

"Then in 2011, with smaller majorities, use reconciliation to get a public option "

What is stopping us from doing that even if the current bill passes?

by vecky 2009-12-11 03:58PM | 0 recs
What if Republicans win the House?

Will many of their freshman from formerly Dem districts support a public option?

by Kent 2009-12-11 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: no bill better than a bad one

From where will the magic pixie dust come that will make the same Senate, same House, and same legislative process create a much better bill if we just wait a few months and "start over"?  Wishing does not make it so.

by Steve M 2009-12-11 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill

Good news!  According to CNN the Senate will relent and the president is pissed that this was in there... It would have made him a liar.  He demanded they take it out, and apparently they will.

The American Cancer Society says that it's gonna be ok.  The reasoning behind the move was stupid... to lower premiums... what's the point of lower premiums if they don't end up paying anything when you get sick?

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/12/11/h ealth.care.benefit.caps/index.html

We should still harass the hell out of the senators to make sure it doesn't sneak back in there...

I'm glad this was put out into the open... I can't believe these folk were so stupid.  Even Harkin was in on it and defended it... He should have known better.

BTW, the best way to lower premium costs would be to institute a robust public option... but, we all knew that!

by LordMike 2009-12-11 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse every da

looks like Lieberman will be the one in charge of the health care exchanges:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/1 2/10/812887/-Lieberman-in-Charge-of-Over sight-of-Healthcare-Exchange?0

are you frickin kidding me?

by jeopardy 2009-12-12 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate health care bill looking worse every da

Does this mean we can blame him when the costs continue to increase well beyond inflation...

by vecky 2009-12-12 01:26PM | 0 recs
There has been zero leadership

from the White House, so says every progressive congressman and senator. Now what is being held up is the Dorgan's re-importation bill because it runs counter to WH's deal with PhRMA even though it will save another 100 billion. Not to mention the bill that is being considered is to quote Atrios a shit sandwich. But I guess any bill now, however bad to the consumer will be celebrated as a great victory.

by tarheel74 2009-12-12 02:38PM | 0 recs

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