Over at Daily Kos they have a round up of which Congressional reps are supporting, leaning towards supporting, or uncommitted/leaning against a strong public option for healthcare reform.
A Congresswoman I respect, Nydia Velazquez, is in the uncommitted/leaning against category. I would like to ask Nydia to please join her many colleagues in supporting a strong public option.
What does this mean?
From the Congressional Progressive Caucus (via the Daily Kos article):
The Congressional Progressive Caucus calls for a robust public option that must:
* Enact concurrently with other significant expansions of coverage and must not be conditioned on private industry actions.
* Consist of one entity, operated by the federal government, which sets policies and bears the risk for paying medical claims to keep administrative costs low and provide a higher standard of care.
* Be available to all individuals and employers across the nation without limitation read more »
Mayor Bloomberg wades into Federal waters with an op-ed in today's Daily News. Key grafs:
The principles that President Obama has outlined for national health care reform are driven by a goal that I share: universal access to affordable health care. Last week, I went to Washington to speak with members of Congress about an idea that can help make that goal a reality: a public health insurance option.
Today, most Americans get their health coverage from private insurers. A public health insurance option would create a competitor to private insurers that could potentially drive down costs across the board. I support the concept of a public plan, because if it's done right, it means introducing exactly the kind of competition our system needs.
A public option would be particularly beneficial to areas where just a few insurance companies control most of the market. This is especially true of cities. According to the American Medical Association, 94% of metropolitan areas in the United States are dominated by one company or a small group of companies. This kind of anti-competitive concentration protects private insurers from ever having to feel the urgency to provide more for less. When you don't have to find ways to cut costs and produce a better product, you tend not to do it. The public option offers the opportunity to force the system to innovate, evolve and improve.
It's very Bloombergian to make this argument by pointing out cost and efficiency benefits. It's also worth thinking about the potential financial benefits to the City from a Federal solution to the healthcare crisis; a report from January by the Citizens Budget Commission attributes rising City personnel costs in part to the increasing cost of healthcare for the City's 280,000 employees.
Nice going, Mr. Mayor. It's appreciated. read more »
From The Hill via Facebook, Jerry Nadler's argument for a robust, immediately available public health plan.
Today, the road to refocusing our misguided healthcare approach to put patients and doctors, not corporate bottom lines, at the forefront, and ensuring that all of us have access to the health services we need for a price we can afford, runs through a robust and competitive public health insurance option.
The public option must be robust and competitive, and incorporate, at a minimum, the following principles:
• Effective immediately. The public health insurance option cannot merely be a “fallback,” a “trigger,” or some other dubiously named mechanism out in the future. A trigger proposal, like the one in Medicare Part D, will do nothing more than ensure that the public option never happens.
Copyright precludes us from posting the complete piece, but go read the whole thing. If Congress passes anything like this, this country will finally move up from having a worse Healthcare system than, say, Costa Rica.
The President's weekly address, live from the White House web site.
Simply put, the status quo is broken. We cannot continue this way. If we do nothing, everyone’s health care will be put in jeopardy. Within a decade, we’ll spend one dollar out of every five we earn on health care – and we’ll keep getting less for our money.
That’s why fixing what’s wrong with our health care system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve – it’s a necessity we cannot postpone any longer.
This is important. Obama just reframed the debate; this isn't something we want to do because we're tax-and-spend liberals - thank you again, Harry Hopkins, for that quote - the country needs reform to make a broken system work.
Jason Rosenbaum summarizes Chuck Schumer's compromise healthcare proposal as follows:
# The public plan must be self-sustaining. It should pay claims with money raised from premiums and co-payments. It should not receive tax revenue or appropriations from the government.
# The public plan should pay doctors and hospitals more than what Medicare pays. Medicare rates, set by law and regulation, are often lower than what private insurers pay.
# The government should not compel doctors and hospitals to participate in a public plan just because they participate in Medicare.
# To prevent the government from serving as both "player and umpire," the officials who manage a public plan should be different from those who regulate the insurance market.
Given Schumer's ties to the insurance industry and, more importantly, the key role he plays in raising money for the DSCC, this plan shouldn't surprise anyone. The philosophical authorship is clear: Beltway lobbyists. The insurance companies, who have recently promised to, at some point, cut their rate of growth - revenue, cost and profit - to a mere 1.5% per annum. Clearly, sacrifices are being brought. Originally, the insusres had offered to cut costs by the same percentage.
In terms of financing, no, the public plan does not need to be self-sustaining. Very few government line items pay for themselves. That's why we pay taxes. The President campaigned last year on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to make this work. A self-sustaining plan creates zero public benefit. It does create yet another insurance company, because presumably, we need more of those.
In the same vein, the idea that the public plan should pay more than Medicare to providers is absurd. The reason that program delivers such value is that its purchasing power allows it to operate more cheaply. That's also why Medicare is so popular, presumably.
Should the government compel doctors to work within its new plan? It won't have to, especially if doctors get to bill more than they do for Medicare patients.
And lastly, the play and umpire problem. Sure: build Chinese walls such as presently exist between various government departments. It's unclear why this is one of the four key components of the plan, but it's not as bad and damaging an idea as the rest of this.
It's time to realize that the American insurance-based model of healthcare has failed, and act accordingly. read more »