Required reading: Robert Reich on health care
by tarheel74, Mon May 18, 2009 at 05:15:05 PM EDT
Powerful as the piece is, it lays out point by point the developments that are aimed to dilute this bill from achieving truly universal or even affordable health care while leaving the veneer of yet another much-ado-about-nothing effort by our elected officials.
I will request everyone who wants to see REAL health care reform to read this opinion piece. I have always found the presence of Max Baucus at the helm of health care reform as a bit like the fox guarding the hen-coop. Someone who is so beholden to corporate interests cannot be relied on to take on the same corporations that have contributed so heavily to his campaign.
We know that there are no representatives for a single-payer health care system on the Baucus chaired panel. We know that physicians and nurses have showed up only to get arrested for voicing their opposition to this congressional theater that is going on in Washington in the name of health care reform.
We even know that Sen. Baucus is all over the map on the public option:
At a meeting with reporters on Friday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he will temporarily set aside talks on a new public insurance option to focus on maintaining employer self-insurance plans, CQ Today reports. Self-insured companies qualify for tax exemptions through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The federal law allows firms to create their own tax-exempt insurance plan -- a means of cutting costs by taking on the risks themselves -- as long as the plans meet federal standards laid out by ERISA. Firms contract with private insurers to administer the plans. Baucus said he would aim to preserve this self-insurance system while expanding private coverage and public programs such as Medicaid. He said, "We'll end up with more private insurance and more public insurance" (Armstrong, CQ Today, 4/24).
As for the creation of a new public insurance option, Baucus said that it is "on the table," adding that it "might be to the side a little bit, ... but it's still on the table." He added, "We're trying to get momentum going. We'll get to the public option a little later. Let's not forget: There's an awful lot more here than the public option" (Young, The Hill, 4/24).
The latest on public option that is being bandied about in the Washington hallways is that by Sen. Schumer, the so called middle-way which levels the playing field for public and private plans. The intention of a public plan, however, is NOT to compete at a level playing field, but have the ability to negotiate and lower costs for drugs and benefits because of its size, otherwise it fails to achieve anything.
I will quote the last two paragraphs from the Robert Reich opinion piece and will again request everyone to read it. Real reform is required for health care and just another band-aid will not get us anywhere.
A third option is to create a public plan that pays for itself and, according to the office of Senator Charles Schumer, who came up with it, "adheres to private-insurance rules." But adhering to private insurance rules is exactly what the public plan is not supposed to do. How can it possibly discipline private insurers and get good deals from drug companies and medical providers if it adheres to the same rules that private insurers have wangled?
It's still possible that the House could come up with a real Medicare-like public option and that Senate Dems could pass it under a reconciliation bill needing just 51 votes. But it won't happen without a great deal of pressure from the White House and the public. Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and the rest of Big Med are pushing hard in the opposite direction. And Democrats are now giving away the store. As things are now going, we'll end up with a universal health-care bill this year that politicians, including our President, will claim as a big step forward when it's really a step sideways.