Weekly Healthcare Series: The "Thou Shalt Nots" of Reform

Monday night I took part in a conference call in which our own Dr. Aaron Roland was interviewed my David Belden of Tikkun magazine about his article in Tikkun.  After the interview, there were questions from participants, and a final word from Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun.  It was a very informative call with a number of very committed people with strong viewpoints.

In this diary, I want to focus on something I had not known that I found troubling, which shows one of the ways the insurance indurstry has corrupted the legislative process.

The Republicans have of course been focusing on retaining our right to choose the "plan that works best for us."  Translated, this means the plan we can afford, whether it covers anything we might need or not.  The rest of us know that such policies make getting care too expensive, so one might just as well have no coverage.  But the market is king.

So imagine my surprise and chagrin to learn that none of the plans currently being developed in Congress would extend choice of plan to those who are covered by their employers.

Let me clarify.  Those Americans who are lucky enough to be covered by employer provided insurance have seen their share of the premiums, as well as deductibles and co-pays increase dramatically over the past few years.  This is one group, you would think, who should be given a greater choice.

Yet none of the plans under development would allow covered employees to say, I don't like what my employer provides, I want the public option instead.  If your employer provides coverage, you are stuck.

Further, employers who already cover their workers, would not have to participate in the exchanges.  They also would not be able to choose the public option.  Thus the public options being considered would only be open to those employers who have not been able to afford to cover their workers, and to the uninsured or those getting individual policies.  This not only weakens the public plan by limiting the pool, it also denies choice to American workers.

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