Saturday, May 30, 2009

Health care bill may be ready by August recess

Sen. Max Baucus and a returning-with-a-mission Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose respective committees both will be taking up health care reform soon, are promising to try to combine their legislation into one bill before the Senate's August recess. Sen. Kennedy has promised to deliver a bill with a public option, while Sen. Baucus has backed away from his noncommittal stance (conservative Sen. Ben Nelson also recently backed away from his outright opposition) that has lead to speculation of a watered down public option plan that wouldn't be allowed to be better than a private insurance company or a "trigger" plan that wouldn't come into play until years down the road if and when private insurance companies did not improve.

These are idiotic, insurance-industry appeasing ideas that are anathema to real reform, of course, but thankfully it appears that momentum is back on the side of a real public option as 28 Democratic Senators have come out in support and with the return of Sen. Kennedy to the Senate and the forefront of this issue.

You know, I was just reminded earlier that today was the "Nationwide Day of Action for Single-Payer" - a call for rallies across the U.S. in support of a single-payer system. I've detailed on this blog before the superiority of such a system before and I'd probably be preaching to the choir anyway if I rehashed it again. But I do find it very sad that single-payer advocates haven't even been seriously been brought the table in this health care reform effort (especially since Sen. Baucus is routinely throwing them out of his committee meetings). That said, I agree with President Obama that while such a system would be ideal if we were designing a health care policy from scratch, it's not politically do-able and it'd be too big of a transition for people, many of which see the need for reform but aren't quite ready to give up their current health care plans.

But for any other plan to be real reform in my estimation, it needs to a) achieve universality by covering the uninsured; b) regulate the insurance companies so they can't deny people coverage for "pre-existing conditions" and other non-sense, particularly if universality is achieved by mandating that everyone have insurance such as in Massachusetts; c) immediately offer an unrestrained public option ala Medicare that has all the advantages of being a government plan (lower administrative costs, ability to negotiate lower prices, etc.) that gives people another choice to what the private insurance companies currently offer (which, if successful, could eventually lead to single-payer anyway); and d) lower the ever-increasing costs of health care in this country.

Unless these conditions are met, I fear our health care system will remain broken. So I eagerly await to see what legislation comes out of the work of these two Senate committees. I hope it provides the fixes we've been waiting for.

UPDATE: Interesting article on how red states would benefit from universal health care the most with blue states picking up the tab.


Anonymous said...

One criticism of 'health care' charities in general: That industry has become one of the most profitable of all time. It already accounts for about 15% of our GDP. The industry as a whole can easily afford to cover its own research and development. Still, it lobbies for billions in government funding, tax breaks, and 'charitable' contributions. It affiliates with hundreds of public figures who 'raise funds' from ordinary people specifically for that industry in the name of 'humanity'. In other words, we are paying for a portion of their research and development. In return, they sell any 'breakthrough' made right back to us for MAXIMUM PROFIT. Their charges remain absolutely OBSCENE. They have been for years. So incredibly high, that thousands of families have already gone bankrupt as a direct result of health care expenses. Thousands of retirees have already had to 'reverse mortgage' their homes to pay for it. The average American is now losing sleep over health care expenses. Medicare and Medicaid are both projected to go bankrupt. Of course, the industry tries to cover for this injustice with one liners like "Today's drugs pay for tomorrow's miracles.". They also 'give back' a little just like every other industry and seek maximum publicity for it. Its a sham in my book. We don't need anymore 'good will' for or on the part of that industry. We need affordable health care in general. THAT MEANS LOWER PROFIT MARGINS. Along with fewer unnecessary tests, procedures, and pharmaceuticals. Of course, some of the work done is legitimate. But that holds true even for the government. Here is the problem. ITS GONE TOO FAR. Something must be done about this out of control 'drug and doctor' mentality. Otherwise, there will never, ever, EVER be affordable health care for the majority.

Xanthippas said...

I think I agree with you generally about single-payer. It is unfortunate that their plans aren't even going to get a decent hearing, but I do think that they are not politically feasible. Fortunately most proponents of health care reform seem to accept this fact to one degree or another, mostly because any reform is so badly needed I think.