HomeUncategorizedRobert Reich on Dems' health insurance boondoggle: A Compromise of a compromise of a compromise.

(I think we all agree these bills are far from perfect. – promoted by RDemocrat)

Robert Reich gave a stunningly accurate assessment of the massive giveaway to Big Insurance and Big Pharma that is the Democrats’ health insurance bill, which you can read by joining me below the fold.

First there was Medicare for all 300 million of us. But that was a non-starter because private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn’t hear of it, and Republicans and “centrists” thought it was too much like what they have up in Canada — which, by the way, cost Canadians only 10 percent of their GDP and covers every Canadian. (Our current system of private for-profit insurers costs 16 percent of GDP and leaves out 45 million people.)

So the compromise was to give all Americans the option of buying into a “Medicare-like plan” that competed with private insurers. Who could be against freedom of choice? Fully 70 percent of Americans polled supported the idea. Open to all Americans, such a plan would have the scale and authority to negotiate low prices with drug companies and other providers, and force private insurers to provide better service at lower costs. But private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn’t hear of it, and Republicans and “centrists” thought it would end up too much like what they have up in Canada.

So the compromise was to give the public option only to Americans who wouldn’t be covered either by their employers or by Medicaid. And give them coverage pegged to Medicare rates. But private insurers and … you know the rest.

According to Reich, the House bill (3926) covers only six million of America’s forty-seven million uninsured.  Naturally, “Harry Reid has proposed an even tinier public option, which states can decide not to offer their citizens. According to the CBO, it would attract no more than 4 million Americans.”

Now we’re down to four million covered.  At this point, by the time a final bill passes, is there any reason to expect that there will be anyone covered?  I’m not sure there is.  Thank God Dennis Kucinich was one of the few Democrats (who could literally be counted on one hand) to vote against HR 3926.

But isn’t it better to get some kind of “reform,” any kind, rather than get nothing at all?  Not when what’s being crammed down our throats is worse than nothing.  According to RJ Eskow:

The plan will have low enrollment and little power to negotiate, causing the CBO to state as fact what I’ve long considered possible: That the public option could become a dumping ground where private plans jettison sicker people, while lacking the efficiencies of scale or negotiating power to get better rates or administer itself more economically.

As a result, says the CBO, a public plan’s premiums might be higher than private insurance. While the CBO’s word isn’t gospel, it’s entirely possible that they’re underestimating the cost of any “public option” we’re likely to see this year. The likeliest political outcome, once the House and Senate bills are combined, is a non-robust “public option” with a state-by-state opt out. The CBO didn’t consider the opt-out when it came up with its shocking (to some) estimate.

This is what we’re being saddled with (hats off to the guy who broke it all down):  Mandates to buy private insurance with stiff penalties for people who won’t be able to pay for it that themselves are unaffordable, ridiculously low enrollment, no bargaining power for the government, no subsidies, no cost controls, steep prices on treatment and drugs, states being allowed to opt out so that even fewer Americans are covered…the list gets worse from there.  Explain to me why anyone should support this nonsense.  Why aren’t we all marching on Washington, shutting down the city, demanding better from those we elected to power and not leaving until we’ve gotten it?

Oh, right, I forgot: because it’s not practical.  Because no one ever got anything by being “ideologically pure.”  Except for those people in Selma, Alabama, the generations of women who demanded the right to vote, those uppity abolitionists who wanted freedom and the right to vote for Blacks, those dirty laborers who organized for better pay and working conditions and the politicians who demanded regulations and trust-busting, those meddling kids who marched against the war in Viet Nam (and their fucking DOG, too), the Republican Party, and a bunch of other “purists” I can’t name off the top of my head right now, no one has ever gotten anything by sticking to a rigid ideology and refusing to compromise.  So we must, absolutely must! shut the hell up and give the far right everything it wants and more, because we can’t get anything better, and besides, the bosses won’t allow it.

Except, of course, that the people who lost the battles of the Abolition, Progressive, New Deal, and Civil Rights eras didn’t allow anything either.  We had to take every single concession we got from them, often going to great lengths and enduring bloody sacrifices to obtain them.  But we got them, and we didn’t take no for an answer.  Right now our problem is that we’re accepting nothing but no as the answer, on everything from health care to climate legislation.  Small wonder we can’t get anything done.  It’s time we stop accepting no for an answer, and start demanding more from government.  It’s ours.  We pay for it.  We should be the ones dictating what it does.




Robert Reich on Dems' health insurance boondoggle: A Compromise of a compromise of a compromise. — 1 Comment