The War on Social Insurance (Soc Sec/Medicare): the Nexus

Homer began the Iliad, his epic telling of the Trojan War, 'in media res' - in the middle of the affair and then told the story backwards and forwards and it is useful to address the War on Social Insurance in the same way. Because most of the warriors would indignantly deny they were waging any such war at all.

So we begin with I.O.U.S.A.: the Movie

Wake up, America! We're on the brink of a financial meltdown. I.O.U.S.A. boldly examines the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens. Burdened with an ever-expanding government and military, increased international competition, overextended entitlement programs, and debts to foreign countries that are becoming impossible to honor, America must mend its spendthrift ways or face an economic disaster of epic proportions.
and then the blurb concludes
Creadon uses candid interviews and his featured subjects include Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Paul O'Neill, Robert Rubin, and Paul Volcker, along with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's own David Walker and Bob Bixby of the Concord Coalition, a Foundation grantee.

Pointedly topical and consummately nonpartisan, I.O.U.S.A. drives home the message that the only time for America's financial future is now.

And so the battleground is set, and as we shall see the important key phrases and names here will be "overextended entitlement programs", Robert Rubin, David Walker, Bob Bixby, the Peter G Peterson Foundation and the Concord Coalition. More on the War in Extended Entry.

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Most important AND most overlooked sentence in HR3962

SEC. 102. ENSURING VALUE AND LOWER PREMIUMS.
(a) GROUP HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE.--Title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act is amended by inserting after section 2713 the following new section:
``SEC. 2714. ENSURING VALUE AND LOWER PREMIUMS.
``(a) IN GENERAL.--Each health insurance issuer that offers health insurance coverage in the small or large group market shall provide that for any plan year in which the coverage has a medical loss ratio below a level specified by the Secretary (but not less than 85 percent), the issuer shall provide in a manner specified by the Secretary for rebates to enrollees of the amount by which the issuer's medical loss ratio is less than the level so specified.
Discussion in extended entry and comments.

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Sweatshop Insurance: O'Boehner Care & the Northern Marianas

Well I have been reading through the Boehner Amendment to HR3962 and it is worse than I could have imagined. In fact it is a fricking nightmare. Someone tell me I have got this wrong. Or remove all sharp objects within my reach. Because they cannot be this brazen.
http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_h r3962_boehner_sub.pdf

It starts innocently enough. Under Title II of the Boehner amendment employers are allowed to auto-enroll employees in any plan they choose. Employees can opt out but as near as I can see employers have no further obligation. Okay that's not good, but not much different than today.

Title III introduces a ringer. Although the Title is called Expanding Choices by Allowing Americans to Buy Health Care Coverage Across State Lines what it really means is that insurers can simply pick any state they like as their 'primary state' and be governed almost entirely by its rules in selling into 'secondary states'. Okay that is really not good, think how many credit card companies are officially based in South Dakota because of its lenient laws. But now things get nightmarish. See extended entry.

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H.R.676: Serious Policy Proposal? or Posturing for Effect?

Probably the most visible proponents of H.R.676, the Single Payer/Medicare for All proposal currently being set forth as an alternative to H.R.3962 are Physicians for a National Health Program or PNHP. They are the last people you would expect to spoof the bill and so I invite everyone to actually visit their H.R.676 web-page and link to the PDF of the bill that they supply so that you can double-check every single claim I am going to make here.

Because I am going to be making some very harsh judgements on this bill. So before people start hating on me please do some homework.

http://www.pnhp.org/publications/united_ states_national_health_care_act_hr_676.p hp
http://www.pnhp.org/docs/nhi_bill_final1 .pdf

This bill is not a serious attempt to present a policy proposal that could actually be passed. In fact in its current form it could not even be scored by CBO. It is instead a manifesto that tosses some red meat to gullible progressives. I support an ultimate transition to universal single payer, but we have a snowball's chance in hell of getting there by this road. Single Payer Now! people who don't want their bubble bursted should just pass this diary by, because you are not going to like what I have to say. Trust me on this one.

Extended entry text cross-posted at Angry Bear

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Score the War

crossposted at Great Orange Satan

David Obey asked some sensible questions the other day, including this one:

1. As an Appropriator I must ask, what will that policy cost and how will we pay for it? We are now in the middle of a fundamental debate over reforming our healthcare system. The President has indicated that it must cost less than $900 billion over ten years and be fully paid for. The Congressional Budget Office has had four committees twisting themselves into knots in order to fit healthcare reform into that limit. CBO is earnestly measuring the cost of each competing healthcare plan. Shouldn't it be asked to do the same thing with respect to Afghanistan?If we add 40,000 troops and recognize the need for a sustained 10 year or longer commitment, as the architects of this plan tell us we do, the military costs alone would be over $800 billion. And unlike the demands that are being made of the healthcare alternatives that they be deficit neutral, we've heard no such demand with respect to Afghanistan. I would ask how much will this entire effort cost, when you add in civilian costs and costs in Pakistan? And how would that impact the budget?

Some discussion in extended entry.

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Triggers, Medical Loss Ratios and Sec 116

One thing up front. I know insurance companies are evil, I know that chances are good that Rahm is fully intent on selling us out and that Reid seems to be an active enabler of Baucus's obstructionism. I even have some harsh thoughts about Obama. So consider all that said. Further my goal is Single Payer, and that I believe that getting there requires a strong Public Option. Okay so that's all good.

That being said the Trigger proposal is not NECESSARILY a totally unacceptable outcome. Understanding why requires a certain amount of dispassionate analysis of how a trigger would interact with the bills that we have and particularly with the cost control measures of Sec 116.

Policy wonks invited to follow me to the Extended Entry.

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Nice sunglasses! Now go away. (Any moderators around?)

Slipping a little commercial spam in a sig is one thing. But multiple diaries?

Could maybe some one delete those three and then this one?

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Wingnuttia ablaze with outrage! House outlaws private insurance!!

(cross posted at dKos & Open Left)
Haven't heard this particular unhinged talking point? You will if you wander too close to the right side of the blogosphere, it is on its way to be accepted wisdom. How did they come to this conclusion? Well if you suggest a combination of bad faith, poor reading comprehension skills, and a total disregard for critical thinking then you pretty much hit the mark. But that doesn't mean this all came out of nowhere, instead it is a misrepresentation of Sec 102 of HR3200, aka the Tri-Committee Health Care bill.

(1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT.--
(A) IN GENERAL.--Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.
For the wingnuts this is a smoking gun hidden right in plain sight on page 16. It never bothers them that the bill goes on for dozens of pages writing regulations for an insurance product it just banned. Well that is wingnut logic.

To get the real explanation of Sec 102 check out the extended entry.

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How we eliminate $15.4 TRILLION in Soc Sec Debt: for $1.50/WEEK

UPDATE The original title is wrong. As noted in the body the cost is per week and not per day. Sorry for the error. BCW

The Northwest Plan for a Real Social Security Fix which is described at this link  is in origin a spreadsheet that shows what a payroll based fix for Social Security would look like using the Trustees' Intermediate Cost assumptions. 2009: OASDI Trigger

Despite all the Sky is Falling hype being put forth by USA Today and the WaPo all of it in origin coming from Pete G Peterson's creations (Concord Coalition and the PGP Foundation) augmented by Cato and AEI you can fix Social Security for $1.50 per week in the first two years for a median income household with no further changes needed until 2026 when some similarly sized increases would be require each year for ten years. Poof! Enact the Northwest Plan and $15.4 trillion of much ballyhooed crippling debt simply vanishes off the balance sheet. Don't believe it? Check out the post above and the one cross-posted from Angry Bear in the extended entry. Oh and don't forget to check the numbers in the spreadsheet.

NW Plan by me and Dale Coberly with assist from Arne and insights from Prof. B Rosser of JMU.

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Fiscal Responsibility Summit Guest List

WaPo: Fiscal Responsibility Summit Guest List

Good news, whatever plans Pete Peterson and Congressional Blue Dogs had to hijack this summit in the name of 'Entitlement Crisis' are seemingly moot given the guest list.

Progressives can I think rest easy, we are/were well represented. Plus supporters of Social Security can relax, Dean Baker made the cut.

Full guest list in Extended Entry

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