Major Developments: Momentum Grows to Open PO, CPC Need Your Help ASAP!

Several major developments on the Hill. One is the Tri Caucus, lead by Rep Grijalva, is pushing to make the public option viable. As many of you know, the CBO has scored the Blue Dog's public option as costing more in premiums than private ones. Why? Adverse risk-sick people dumped into the plan driving up costs. Major risk adjustment or a robust PO will be needed so that the public option can be you know the AFFORDABLE ONE WE WERE  PROMISED.

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Paying for Health Care

By: Inoljt,

One of the most important health care reforms would be to get rid an inefficient, outdated tax exemption that is still a fundamental part of U.S. policy.

This is how it works. If a company provides health insurance to its employees, the federal government does not tax the health benefits that are being provided. Say you have an insurance policy worth $5,000. Said company deducts a part of the employee's salary - say, $1,000 - for "health insurance." But the majority of the cost - the other $4,000 - is hidden, because the company negotiates with health providers itself. This is an enormous tax exemption, amounting to the biggest the federal government gives.

On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Who wouldn't want to encourage a companies to provide health insurance?

The problem lies in the unintended consequences of this tax exemption. An employee who gets his health insurance from a company has an incentive to get the most expensive, technologically new treatment possible - even if such treatments are not proven to be effective, as is far too often the case. After all, the company's paying for most of the cost. And who wouldn't want to get the costliest treatment possible if you're not paying for it?

Except the employee is paying for that other $4,000 - just not directly. He's paying in the form of lost wages that the company would have given him were it not for the health insurance it provides. For example, instead of paying Sam $50,000 in wages, Company A decides to offer everybody a $5,000 health insurance packet and pay Sam $45,000 (and put a $1,000 heath insurance deduction on his paycheck), due to the government tax exemption.

But Sam doesn't know how much more he could have made without the tax exemption. All he knows is that he's getting cheap health insurance, and that he'd better use it on the most expensive, new treatment possible.

In effect, Sam is spending $5,000 of his own coin in an inefficient, wasteful manner. But he doesn't know this - doesn't consider it his money - because of the way our health care system works. If said employee was given $5,000 in wages instead of a $5,000 health insurance plan that looks like it costs $1,000, he'd probably be less likely to seek that $100,000 prostate cancer detection test (which studies show doesn't work anyways). And we'd all be better off for it.

For more, see below the flip.

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Faux universal health care plan

   Oregon Senator Wyden's Healthy American Act is hardly new.  It is simply a rehashing of a plan that creates an insurance cartel with a direct pipeline into the U.S. Treasury and provides profit insurance for the insurance companies not health insurance for all Americans.  By creating a special insurable pool, separate from Medicare and the federal plan, it cannot be universal by any rational definition of that term.  
   It would invite the most egregious corruption of Congress because which insurance companies would be included in the plan would be a function of who had the most political clout (read that as campaign contributions) in Congress and institutionalize the skimming off of 25%(+ or -) of the nation's healthcare costs to fund the life style of those who contribute nothing to the actual delivery of care.  
    Say, "No" to Wyden and hold off for a real universal single-payer system that is neither a works program for insurance filing clerks or a federal profit insurance program for an elite part of the insurance industry.

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Letters to Wyden

Here is the first of hopefully many letters to Ron Wyden D-Oregon. This one is on the 2006 election that has brought Democrats to power.

I plan on also sending these to Ron and Oregon's other Senator Gordon Smith [yuck!] via email (or snail-mail if I am not getting any replies). I will post any replies I receive.

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Wyden's Healthcare Plan

I am of the strong opinion that given the direction Bush is heading in that the 2008 election will be a big referendum on the direction of Iraq, especially if McCain is the nominee.  

After that though, the biggest issue will most likely be healthcare.  As costs grow, citizens, businesses and unions are all looking for a solution.  Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon released his today and it is interesting.  While it is not a pure universal public health system as seen in Canada and Europe, it may be a nice compromise between our current setup and the European system.  This has some advantages in that the entire insurance industry would not be hit hard by a change to public health and employers and public costs would go down substancially over the next decade.

The merits of the plan below:

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