Howard Dean Tears Healthcare Bill a New One
From Howard Dean's WaPo Op Ed and after suggesting the Senate needs to kill this bill if they are not going to fix the real problems:
Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based
on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance
companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as
younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed
to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to
enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an
insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium
dollars and spend it on CEO salaries -- in the range of $20 million a
year -- and on return on equity for the company's shareholders. Few
Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are
likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are
insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with
a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.
From the very beginning of this debate, progressives have argued that a
public option or a Medicare buy-in would restore competition and hold
the private health insurance industry accountable. Progressives
understood that a public plan would give Americans real choices about
what kind of system they wanted to be in and how they wanted to spend
their money. Yet Washington has decided, once again, that the American
people cannot be trusted to choose for themselves. Your money goes to
insurers, whether or not you want it to.
To be clear, I'm not giving up on health-care reform. The
legislation does have some good points, such as expanding Medicaid and
permanently increasing the federal government's contribution to it. It
invests critical dollars in public health, wellness and prevention
programs; extends the life of the Medicare trust fund; and allows young
Americans to stay on their parents' health-care plans until they turn
27. Small businesses struggling with rising health-care costs will
receive a tax credit, and primary-care physicians will see increases in
their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates.
More constructive criticism, including last night's Special Comment from KO, below the fold because, honestly, this Bill resembles an insurance corporation dump on the Senate floor that needs to be flushed:
With great sadness - and with full acknowledgment that this is
hardly all his doing - I must also address this president directly,
about his lack of leadership.
There is no middle to coalesce here, Sir.
There are only the uninformed, the bought-off, and the vast
suffering majority for whom the urgency of now is a call from a
collection agency or a threat of rescission of policy or a warning of
expiration of services.
Sir, your hands-off approach, while nobly intended and
perhaps yet some day applicable to the reality of an improved version
of our nation, enabled the national humiliation that was the Town Halls
and the insufferable Neanderthalian stupidity of Congressman Wilson and
the street-walking of Mr. Lieberman.
Instead of continuing this snipe-hunt for the endangered
and possibly extinct creature "bipartisanship," you need to push the
Republicans around or cut them out or both. You need to threaten
Democrats like Baucus and the others with the ends of their careers in
the party. Instead, those Democrats have threatened you, and the
Republicans have pushed you and cut you out.
Sir, if they are going to call you a socialist no matter what
you do, you have been given full unfettered freedom to do what you know
is just. The bill may be the ultimate political manifesto, or it may be
the most delicate of compromises. The firestorm will be the same. So
why not give the haters, as the cliché goes, something to cry about.
There are many who can act here but the leadership must come
from the White House, or we will see enacted into statute the
equivalent of Medical Mobster Protection Money, the forced purchase of
a product, by the citizens of this country, which is significantly
regulated only in the establishment of a law requiring us to buy it.
From Crooks and Liars, a note about Nate Silver's piece telling us we would be crazy to oppose this bill:
Nate Silver has written a piece called "Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy To Oppose the Senate Bill."
He says we need to stop being "polite" (who's polite these days?) and
start being "real." In the spirit of impoliteness and reality
(realness?), he offers some numbers in order to argue that the Left is
nuts not to embrace the Senate health reform bill.
In that same "no-politeness" spirit, here's my response: Garbage
in, garbage out. Is that "real" enough for ya? Progressives - and
everyone else, for that matter - should keep fighting.
Silver's heart may be in the right place, and his math is right, but many of his assumptions are flat-out wrong.
I'll note that one of the problems with Nate's arguments is the same problem with too many of the arguments you will see on the internet from people that support this piece of crap legislation: Too many point to what are non-existant pieces of legislation from the House as back up to the supposed changes. We do not have a clue what is in the actual legislation the Senate sent to the CBO and anyone that ssumes a certain piece of House legislation is there to accompany the little bit of changes that were shared in the news is just pulling more crap out their ass to support the Senate floor dump.
And plsease note that the Bill has only gotten worse since Silver's piece as we know they have taken out the Medicare buy-in to appease the spiteful and insane rantings and ravings of the loonytunes Joe Lieberman. Some video from ctblogger at MLN, featuring Joe on Joe:
[Update] An extended excerpt from the end of Kos' piece on the Mass. model of healthcare reform's failures:
So to recap, of the entire state of Massachusetts, we have full
2007-2009 premium data for about 5 percent of them. One-third of those
had their premiums drop 40 percent, but still pay double the national
average. The other 2/3rd had their premiums increase 20 percent. In
group plans, we know that just between 2007 and 2008, premiums
increased 12 percent.
So what's going on? You're going to love this -- the Massachusetts plan lacks cost controls.
In Massachusetts, brokering the 2006 overhaul was such a delicate
and years-long undertaking that the disparate interest groups -
insurers, businesses, consumers, hospital and doctors organizations - all agreed to first tackle health coverage expansion and leave the cost question for a later date.
Now, the Commonwealth Fund report projects that without significant
cost reforms, an annual family premium in Massachusetts will soar to
$26,730 by 2020.
So we have one example of a state with mandates, but no cost
control. And the results, thus far, aren't encouraging. Monopolies
don't make a habit of passing on the savings to consumers without being
forced to by 1) government regulations, or 2) real competition. We have
neither in this Senate bill.
But it's worse than even that. Remember how only three percent of
residents lack health insurance? Kaiser Family Foundation finds that
having "health insurance" isn't the same (PDF) as having health care:
[T]he affordability of health care remains a barrier to receiving
care for some residents. Of the total population, 21 percent went
without needed care in the previous year because of cost.
Part of the reason is that soaring costs (the ones that were never contained), are already forcing major cuts (PDF), according to Physicians for a National Health Program:
In order to bring the state’s cost increases down from 15.4% to
9.4%, the plans boosted co-payments and enrollee contributions, making
services even less affordable for the near-poor families enrolled in
So not only does a mandate-centric health "reform" plan not control
costs, but also continues to leave people it pretends to cover in the
dust, too poor to afford steep co-pays and deductibles. Bravo, Senate
Democrats. It's hard to see how you could screw this up any worse
(though Ben Nelson will try his best with Stupak II).
The bottom line in Massachusetts? From the Kaiser report:
In addition, rising health care costs continue to challenge the sustainability of the program.
You pass a shitty program now that further bankrupts our nation, and
we won't be talking about "fixing" it in a few years, but whether it
should even exist.
(Jed Lewison contributed to the research in this piece.)
Over at FDL, Jane Hamsher tackles the issue of it being what I call an endless welfare program for insurance corporations and Emptywheel tackles the the issue of what this might cost you and your family.