Monday, September 7, 2009

Screw Bipartisanship on Universal Health Care

Democratic Senator Max Baucus' health care proposal shows that he has been spending far too much time with Republicans. Look at the underlying logic of what he has proposed:
Mr. Baucus’s plan, expected to cost $850 billion to $900 billion over 10 years, would tax insurance companies on their most expensive health care policies. The hope is that employers would buy cheaper, less generous coverage for employees, thereby reducing the overuse of medical services.
So, supposedly the reason health care is so expensive is that some people are going to the doctor too often, and reducing their benefits to the level of the benefits of those who are now going bankrupt or not going to the doctor at all will squeeze enough money out of current plans to cover 15% more people.

This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's a Republican rationale for why union members would be better of if they had less generous health care benefits than their negotiated plans now allow. If the Democrats go down this path, the Republican will correctly say at election time that Democrats created new taxes on benefits while also reducing coverage.

According to the Washington Post, there are some useful signs in Baucus proposal:

Another section of Mr. Baucus’s proposal would help pay insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles for people with incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four). It would also provide some protection for people with incomes from 300 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level (up to $88,200 for a family of four), so they would generally not have to pay more than 13 percent of their income in premiums.

Mr. Baucus’s proposal does not include a “trigger mechanism” of the type recommended by Ms. Snowe, who would offer a public insurance plan in any state where fewer than 95 percent of the people had access to affordable coverage.
Senator Olympia Snowe has been pushing for a public option that would only kick it in we discover that 15% of Americans don't have insurance. Haven't we discovered that already? The only reason not to do something now is Republican hopes that the can take over the House and Senate before the "trigger" is pulled that would make real health care change kick in. So, it's helpful to learn that Baucus has rejected that subversive idea, while also proposing to help many middle class families pay their insurance bills.

That's good, but if the Government implemented a public option that directly provides care instead of merely insurance for care, then it wouldn't be necessary to provide subsidies that serve mostly to enrich insurance companies.

I'm announcing right now (to all those who are asking for my advice) that the Democrats should steam roll over Republican ideas and votes, using whatever parlimentary rules and processes availabe, and pass a health care plan based on people's needs rather than on Republican rhetoric and ideology. I'm no Independent so I'm not the kind of voter that all of the "bipartisanship bullshit" is meant to mollify. I couldn't care less whether Republicans vote for the ultimate bill or not, in committe or on the floor of the House and Senate, as long as there are enough votes to pass it.

Democrats should write a bill so pro-consumer that NO Republican will support it, so that when health care improves radically for Americans, Democrats can say, "I told you so. We only wish the Republicans could have supported what we now have too."

I'm tired of bipartisanship. It's like God trying to win the support of the Devil before making miracles in people's lives. You'd get compromises like, 'OK, this couple can be married, as long as they are miserably unhappy their entire lives.' It's better to move ahead without the Devil's input, because substantive unilateral good is better than procedural bipartisanship that turns leads to substantive bilateral evil.

President Obama's language is hardly more reassuring than that of Senator Baucus. The President said in a speech today that he wanted "health insurance reform". That's good that he wants to reform what's already out there, but he knows damned well that only a public option will bring down costs and make health care available to everyone.

Right now I'm watching the birth of health care reform, but even I can see that the the umbilical cord is around the baby's neck and his face is turning blue. If the Democrats can't deliver this baby without a "partial abortion birth", then who would trust them to do anything else.

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