( – promoted by buhdydharma )
This diary notes a shift in definitions: A “robust public option” used to mean a public option available to all, on the first day of mandates.
What does it mean now?
(crossposted at Orange)
nyceve sent me an email today. It said:
Now, I need you to call your member of Congress and reiterate that demand: we need a true public option without co-ops or “triggers.”
So here it’s called a “true public option.”
The letter continues:
It’s still up to us to hold the line with enough votes in the House to make sure the only thing that can pass is a strong public option.
Here it’s a “strong public option.” Now, at the bottom:
We need you to call your Representatives and say that you only support a public option without co-ops or triggers, and you need them to do the same.
Here, it’s a “public option without co-ops or triggers.”
We look forward to meeting with you to discuss the importance of your continued support for a robust public option in the final bill.
Keep these wordings firmly in mind. There will be a quiz at the end of the lecture.
Now, on to HR3200, the bill we want a “public option” in. John Geyman tells us:
As described in my recent book Do Not Resuscitate: Why the Health Insurance Industry Is Dying, and How We Must Replace It, we have never been able to effectively regulate this industry, which has many ways to game any system by cherry picking the market.
HR 3200 is, like all the other options, not effective regulation either. The most telling reason why this is so is that HR 3200 does not control costs in any adequate way. From Geyman’s piece in HuffPo:
…federal payments for subsidies will far exceed any projections that are now being discussed. There are at least 100 million Americans less than 65 years of age with incomes below 400 percent of FPL. If eligibility for federal subsidies is set at that level, the CBO projects that their cost will be about $773 billion between 2013 and 2019. Concerning Medicaid expansion, the CBO has also estimated that extending Medicaid to an additional group of Americans with incomes for a family of four up to $33,000 a year would cost about $500 billion over 10 years.
What will the government’s reaction to this be? We can only expect the deal to get worse:
We can be sure that the Senate will restrict subsidies below these levels and that any final health care reform bill, if ever enacted, will further exacerbate the problems Americans face in paying for health care.
There may be a cap on the cost of insurance premiums to the individual (what was it, 11% of income?) but there will also doubtless be a cap on costs to the government, when the Blue Dogs start to freak out about the final price tag. (Here, of course, I am only speculating. But would anyone here like to bet on it?) Since government costs are likely to spiral out of control, guess which cap will win?
The real injustice, of course, will be the joke insurance we’ll be asked to buy. Geyman, again, from HuffPo:
…federal law would mandate them to purchase health insurance, under penalty of fine, and an underinsurance product at that. A working draft of the “actuarial value” of insurance coverage in the Senate Finance Committee last month stated that a policy of “bronze” or “silver” value would cover 65 and 73 percent of total health care costs, respectively — undercoverage by any standard. A family of four with an income at 300 percent of FPL would pay 15 percent of their income on health care. So we would end up with a mandate for inadequate coverage which much of the population, as well as taxpayers, cannot afford.
So what are we calling Congress every day about? Oh, that’s right, the public option. What about that? Geyman:
AHIP and its lobbyists have already succeeded in neutering the public option to a small program without enough potential market share or flexibility to set its own premiums to effectively compete with private insurers.
It’s a robust public option with a poison pill — it’s designed to fail. So is that the “robust public option” we are supposed to be demanding from Congress today?
Or are we asking for a robust public option which is an AFFORDABLE insurance option available IMMEDIATELY to EVERYONE on DAY ONE of the mandates?
And if we’re looking for that, why has it disappeared from the language of the “progressives” which are supposedly trying to improve HR 3200? Andrew Coates defines the problem as follows:
Although the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s press release placed the word “robust” before “public option,” they did not define what that term meant to them. Is it not odd for any legislator, much less dozens, to “hinge” their support for an entire (and very important) bill on the inclusion in that bill of an entity they have not defined?
Now, I don’t mean to disparage the work of the good folks at Firedoglake: nyceve, slinkerwink, Jane Hamsher, and so on. I admire their hard work. But I do want to know if they are going to defend the “robust public option” I’ve suggested, the affordable “robust public option” that is available to everyone on day one of the mandates, or if they are going to accept the terms of the “public option” laid out now in HR 3200. But here is Jane Hamsher from FDL, June 23 of this year:
We need to get progressive members of Congress to commit that they will not vote for any bill or conference report that does not have a robust public plan that is:
* available nationwide
* available on day one
* and accountable to Congress and the voters
Do we still want this?
Or are we planning to wait until 2013 to get 5% of it, while the current system vacuums up our earnings with a vengeance while receiving enormous bailouts from the US government?
Here’s a thought. Give up on the stupid bills, prepare for 2010, defeat the Blue Dogs, and then bring the issue up again in 2011. We’ll get the bill we want, and millions of dollars won’t go to the insurance vultures. Meanwhile, try to get single payer passed in the states.
Remember Frederick Douglass? He told us: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” So when we ask for a “robust public option,” what are we demanding? The option written in HR 2300? A public option open to EVERYONE on DAY ONE of the mandates? What are we demanding?