(2) Democrats up for reelection next year come ever closer to the gravitational pull of the midterms, and grow increasingly worried about voting for a bill that could be a political liability in a year when unemployment may well reach double digits and the electorate is restless and unhappy;
But congressional aides in both parties as well as lobbyists said a proposal limiting Flexible Savings Accounts to $2,000 annually is also a strong possibility. FSAs permit the use of pretax income to pay for items such as health care and child care.
The health care debate is even more backward. We all know that every other first-world country has implemented some form of universal cover and that the US hasn’t, but the level of ignorance about such a system — and the way it is misrepresented in public debate — is kind of breathtaking.
There is a barrage of advertising trying to scare people out of change, including one that uses an (allegedly) Canadian woman explaining how government-backed health care in her country nearly killed her. Clever, and the purist bunkum I would guess.
With all this, I can’t decide whether the US is a backwater or refreshingly defiant. Actually, I can decide...There really is nothing too smart about clinging to a system that is burdening their businesses with debilitating costs and depriving 43 million citizens of meaningful health care. And pretending — believing! — that to give in on it is to open the gates to late-onset Marxism. Talk about welcome to the 1950s…
Baucus's bill will not contain an employer mandate -- a requirement that employers provide health insurance to their employees -- even though it does contain an individual mandate.
Does this look familiar to anyone?
-- No employer mandate
-- No public option
-- But yes, an individual mandate
It should -- because this particular permutation on health care reform looks an awful lot like the incomplete draft of the HELP Committee's bill that the CBO scored last month, which also lacked an employer mandate and a public option but contained an individual mandate. That bill, the CBO estimated, would cost about $1.0 trillion -- but would only cover a net of about 16 million people. In contrast, the revised version of the HELP Committee's bill, which did include both a public option and an employer mandate, would cost about the same amount but cover a net of 37 million people.
The AP may be right that Baucus's bill will cost less than $1 trillion, but it accomplishes that by shifting the burden to middle-income families, some of whom have poor balance sheets and will face a really tough choice between paying for health insurance they can't quite afford and facing some kind of penalty. Odds are that many of them will take the penalty, which is why coverage probably won't expand very much. Or, the enforcement mechanisms could be more stringent, in which case they'll have to buy health care, at the cost of reducing their spending in other areas -- and in probably being very teed off at the Democrats who passed the bill.
Just to underscore this point: when it scored a similar bill, the CBO estimated that 15 million people would lose their employer-provided coverage. Most of these people are likely to be lower-to-middle income persons with somewhat tenuous employment situations, a group that tends classically to be swing voters.
Now, how are those 15 million people going to feel about health care reform when they find out that:
a) Although the bill was supposed to guarantee access to health insurance, they've in fact lost theirs;
b) They're required to buy an expensive, private plan on their own, or to pay a fine;
c) They're probably not getting any government assistance;
d) They certainly don't have any Medicare-like alternative to fall back upon;
e) All of this cost the country about $1 trillion dollars.
You think those 15 million people are going to vote for the Democrats again, like, ever?
The good news is that the math on this bill is so bad that I doubt it will survive intact.
"If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds."
On his travels Wednesday -- to an audience at a high school in Raleigh, N.C., and at a supermarket in Bristol, Va. -- the president will unveil the eight-part message, designed to convince the insurance masses that reform will be good for them. Here, according to White House aides, are the key points:
* No Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
* No Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
* No Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
* No Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
* No Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
* No Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
* Extended Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
* Guaranteed Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
« Older Barbecued Ribs, Roast Beef, French Toast, Twice Ba... | "Slather the holy hell out of ... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt