Required reading: Robert Reich on health care

The name of his piece up on TPM is The Health Care Cave-In.
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.

Tags: health care cave-in, Robert Reich (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Health Care Reform is Simple!

Hmmm... Health Care for All Americans is Simple!

1) Merge Medicare with Medicaide into one single "Income Based" system for elderly and poor citizens.

2) Require insurance companies to provide the same basic coverage for all Non-Medicare/Medicaide citizens, regardless of health status, at affordable rates.

3) Allow insurance companies to profit by offering additional benefits and options to those who qualify and are willing to pay the difference.

As for Funding...

1) Changing from an "Emergency Treatment" to a "Preventive Care" system will save local communities billions, maybe even trillions of taxpayer dollars!

2) Small business will be able to compete globally and hire additional taxpaying employees!

3) Wealthy seniors will pay their fair share!

4) The tremendous burden on future generations will be greatly reduced!

by jpinsatx 2009-05-19 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Health Care Reform is Simple!

Regulation in America will not work because the insurance companies will spend much of their time trying to a) tie up that regulation and b) change it through their influence in congress while we are not looking. The fact that regulation will not work is clear by their influence over Congress right now (hence concerns over public option not passing) and their going back on their promises to Obama just last week. We do not have a culture in which regulation of health insurance will work. The best option is a public option which, if you go to open left, works in every other country it's been tried because it uses market forces to address the cost containment issue and forces other market players to cut cost.

by bruh3 2009-05-19 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Health Care Reform is Simple!

There is zero political will to sustain the quality of income based programs - witness the horrific condition of Medicaid programs around the country, that arbitrarily cut benefits and throw people off when budgets get tight., So changing Medicare to an income based program is a recipe for total disaster.

Preventive care does not save any money in overall health care costs, it increases costs. The occasional case it can delay or prevent through early detection screening and patient education is the only savings, the overall cost of screening and educating millions of people who would never develop the diseases we know how to detect early and influence the course of anyway is astronomical. Good preventive care increases the overall quality of patient outcomes slightly, so it can be of value, but it is very costly.

Insurance companies employ many sophisticated marketing devices to "cream skim" the population so they will only get the healthiest people as clients, and they will simply refuse to offer policies that will not be profitable for them. They aren't idiots, they don't want to lose money.

Electronic medical records don't save any money in any of the places they have been tried out so far. No savings have accrued, and many medical errors continue to take place, so waiting for some imagined lowered health care costs on the basis of installing an electronic medical record system everywhere, at the cost of billions of dollars, is sheer political hogwash. There is zero evidence such a stupendous outlay of money will lower costs one penny.

Only a single payer system has proven to lower health care costs substantially and consistently in country after country where it has been adopted, see Taiwan for the latest fantastic results - far lower costs and everyone is covered!

But Max Baucus has put single payer "off the table". They are also, with Schumer, trying to destroy any hope that there will be a government "public option" program that is based on a Medicare for All approach, that might eventually turn into a single payer program if enough Americans chose it.

At our latest meeting of single payer advocates with Charles Rangel, he said that House Democrats will go to the wall to get a real public option in their health care reform bill, but what the Senate does will likely be far less progressive.

Now is the time to speak out for real health care reform - single payer. It is the only reform that will work, all we need is to generate the political will to do it.

by 07rescue 2009-05-21 07:24PM | 0 recs

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