17 August, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Best health care system in the world, eh?
You'd think just as a matter of national pride that Americans would be embarrassed by this:

And let's talk for a moment about premiums:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will be increasing rates 22% on individual policies. The good news is that these staggering increases are less than half of the rate hikes Michigan Blue proposed. The Michigan Attorney General, Mike Cox, tried to force the non-profit to reach into its $2.4bn reserve fund to pay for $133mn of losses it incurred last year, but wasn't able to get his courts to help the beleaguered citizens he represents.
So. We're already spending an insane amount of money on inferior health care, and the insurance companies are trying to jack up rates by nearly 50%. We're lucky when they're forced to keep the hike down to 22%. Something is very, very wrong with this picture.

A simple and effective way to keep this insanity in check short of a single-payer system is a public option. Something on the order of 3/4 of Americans think a public option's a great idea. So who are politicians listening to? Fucking Teabaggers:
Hurray! Now all the Teabaggers will go home and tons of Republicans will get on board with health care reform, right?

President Barack Obama's administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run health insurance as part of his ambitious health care proposal. Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives. Such a concession is likely to enrage his liberal supporters but could deliver Obama a much-needed win on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.


Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is ''not the essential element'' of the administration's health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said, a sign that Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory on the showdown.

So Obama campaigns for 2 years with the public option as the centerpiece of his health care reform. He's elected by the largest majority in 20 years, and the public gives him 60 Democratic seats in the Senate and 256 Democratic seats in the House. Obama then publicly lobbies for said public option after he takes office.

Then Kent Conrad, who represents like 7 people, and a handful of corrupt Blue Dogs say "No way." And Obama caves.

Kent Conrad, knowing that over 70% of Americans might be a wee bit pissed at a Dem who sells out the public option for insurance company interests, wants us to know that even though he's not for the public option, he's not totally ruling it out:

According to Salon.com's Alex Koppelman, Friday's news reports that Kent Conrad definitively stated he would vote against a public option aren't accurate.

The Sun's story never quoted Conrad directly about the public option, and the senator's communications director, Sean Neary, told Salon that the story was inaccurate. Conrad has been telling his constituents that he won't let the government run their health care, which may be the cause of the confusion, but that language doesn't preclude the public option.

His communications director might want to have a little chat with him, because this sounds an awfully lot like precluding to me:

A public health insurance option took more hits Sunday as Sen. Kent Conrad described its pursuit as a “wasted effort” and an administration official said it is not an “essential” part of reform.

Conrad (D-N.D.), who supports setting up health insurance co-operatives with government seed money to compete with private insurers, described the public option as all but a lost cause.

“Look, the fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the U.S. Senate for the public option, there never have been,” Conrad said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”

“So to continue to chase that rabbit is, I think, a wasted effort,” Conrad said.
Considering he's one of the Gang of Six in the Senate doing their level best to gut health care reform, I do believe this is his way of saying, "Fuck you if you think you're getting a public option. The reason I've not committed to voting against it is because I'm making sure it's not in the bill. Suckerz!"

And Mike Ross is cheering him on:
We haven't heard quite as much lately from center-right Blue Dog Democrats, but Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, the caucus leader on health care, spoke to CNN today about his take on the debate.

"I know that a lot of members of my party in the House don't want to hear this," said Ross, but "my guess is about 90 percent [of the final bill presented to the White House] will be reflected from what's in the Senate Finance Committee bill."

I see. Six centrists and conservatives from small rural states get together in secret to hammer out an agreement that ignores the majority's policy priorities. The negotiations include exactly zero of the Finance Committee's progressive members, but include one of the Senate's most conservative members and another Republican who doesn't want to admit negotiations are even happening. Why, with a Democratic president, and large Democratic majorities in both chambers, would the final bill reflect the wishes demands of these six? Because Mike Ross intends to help make it happen.

With Dems like these, who needs Cons? Let this be a lesson: we don't need more Dems, we need more progressive Dems.

These Blue Dog buttwipes may want to have a chance with Arlen Specter, who's not suffering any fools:
Sen. Arlen Specter has faced angry protesters at his town hall meetings about health care. But Specter says that the protesters are not representative of most Americans. "I think we have to bear in mind, although those people have a right to be heard, they're not really representative of America in my opinion. We have to be careful here not to let those town meetings dominate the scene and influence what we do on health policy," Specter told ABC's Jake Tapper.
We may make a Democrat of him yet.

Or maybe he's just smart enough to realize it's not worth listening to fuckwits like this:
Evidently, CNBC is asking the teabaggers to act for their cameras and the teabaggers are responding with neat ideas like going to "health fairs" and intimidating the sick people who don't have health care.

One of the spokespeople for the teabaggers says they decided against it, however:
I have thought about this more and think it would be best to send a press release saying how we think the health fair is a perfect example of free market events. That we support free markets and the fact that in America we are compassionate and take care of the uninsured. Look at these businesses who are doing this without the government taking over our health care.
(The Teabagger's talking about Remote Area Medical, which instead of treating isolated people in third world countries is finding it necessary to provide health care to Americans.)
I'm sorry to have to say this, but I really hope the teabag woman who thinks this is a great system, loses her health insurance and has to go get her health care in an animal stall. If she's lucky enough to even get that. If she believes charity health care in soaking wet tents once a year is a mark of a well functioning market, she is so stupid she deserves it.
Agreed. Teabagger Lady needs a reminder about being careful what you wish for. As the Cons are discovering, you just might get it:

As pleased as the party is to have the mobilizing right-wing support, there is an unexpected dilemma for Republicans: an enraged monster can be unpredictable, and can even turn in unhelpful directions.

Conservatives are calling it their August Revolt -- a surprising upsurge of activism against President Obama's proposed healthcare overhaul.

Spurred on by the success of their efforts to dominate the news at Democratic town hall meetings, conservative groups are reporting increases in membership lists and are joining forces to plan at least one mass demonstration in Washington next month.

But the conservative mobilization has also created an unusual dilemma for Republican leaders, who want to turn the enthusiasm into election victories next year but find themselves the target of ire from many of the same activists.

It seems some far-right lawmakers aren't far-right enough for the mob. Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas was booed by the Tea Baggers. Rep. Bob Inglis (R) of South Carolina was shouted down for mild criticism of Glenn Beck. Rep. John Sullivan (R) of Oklahoma was chastised by his constituents this week for not working harder to investigate the president's place of birth.

Inglis, who is by no reasonable measure a moderate, noted that "hostility went straight through to hysteria" at town-hall meetings. Noting that the activists are driven by bogus arguments that are obviously wrong, Inglis added, "You cannot build a movement on something that is not credible."

Well, they can try. Inglis now faces a primary challenger from the even-further-right-wing contingent of the GOP.

Seems there's a pretty aggressive cancer that's eating the GOP from within, there. Too bad it's a pre-existing condition and therefore makes them ineligible for coverage.


Woozle said...

Paging Mike the Progressive "If the healthcare bill doesn't pass it is not going to be because of the GOP" Conservative: this is what I was talking about.

The idiot base of your preferred party is going to do its best to prevent any change whatsoever -- even when desperately needed, even when the proposal currently on the table basically gives them every concession -- it's not socialism, it's not government-run healthcare, it sure as hell ain't "death panels", it leaves the health insurance industry happy and chirping (some of the changes would seem to be good for it, even, given how the insurers apparently keep having to raise rates in order to remain solvent) and kowtows to the gods of Competition and Capitalism in every way possible -- and they still don't want it.


Cujo359 said...

The only valid criticisms, or perhaps I should really term that "observations", that apply to government-funded health care (A.K.A. "single-payer") apply to our current system, too.

Health insurance companies decide who gets to live and who doesn't. The problem is that they do this based on a short-term profit motive that rewards not paying for procedures if there's the least bit of risk. Government financed health care would have to prioritize, too, but its priorities should be better. They are certainly more subject to correction.

The other problem that for-profit health care funding has is the expectation that the profits will be phenomenal. The industry expects to keep at least one dollar out of every five premium dollars (20%) for itself. That's a huge margin, since it was about one dollar in twenty (5%) fifteen years ago, and Medicare's is about one dollar in thirty (3%).

Woozle said...

I could certainly imagine criticisms of Obamacare which would not apply to the current system.

The new system apparently requires people to buy insurance, with a penalty for noncompliance. How do I know I'll be able to afford it?

What if passing Obamacare requires such massive concessions to the insurance industry that it becomes even worse at providing actual healthcare, while the "public option" is so constrained or unaaffordable as to be practically useless as an alternative?

Opponents have not, however, raised either of these, and I have not seen any indication that they would be valid. The best shots so far would seem to be the articles I linked here, and they don't even have their arguments straight enough to get to the "fact check" stage.