20 July 2009

Don't "Rush" Health Care Reform

That's the new meme out there since the "centrists" sent a letter to President Obama last week, asking for a slower pace for reform.  It's true that the process is so far behind schedule that the August deadline is looking less and less likely, a fact implicitly acknowledged by Obama in his weekly address, in which he reverted to his previous call for health insurance reform "this year."  Obama and congressional democrats had fervently hoped to have bills finalized and voted upon prior to the August recess; it is widely assumed that the anti-reform lobbies will use this fallow time to beat up on wavering centrists and increase their attacks on the as-yet undefined proposals on the table.  It is much easier to lambast reforms which are not yet finalized, since opponents can project their worst imaginations onto the bills without blatant dishonesty.  The conservative establishment will kick into high gear to drum up fear and doubt about "Government-run health care."  In the meantime, there will be few positive developments in the reform arena to drive a positive media narrative, and the reform will come to look more and more beleaguered.  The conservatives hope that when they return to Washington in September, they will have the votes to kill Obama's hopes for reforming health care.  Their tactic now is kind of laughable -- that the process has been "rushed." It started before the inauguration, and has played out over months and months.  Yes, there's an artificial deadline of August which gives the "rush" line some validity, but since that deadline looks blown anyway, the attacks are kind of meaningless.

Just to be clear: it is the fault of the democrats, in particular Max Baucus, that they are in this fix.  Much time has been wasted in trying to find a mythical pot of gold bipartisan solution to the vexing policy issues within reform: public insurance, financing, provider reimbursement.  Yes, it would have been nice if a truly bipartisan bill were possible, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the republicans in power are not interested in good faith participation in reform.  Senator Jim Demint (R-SC) spoke an accidental political truth when he said on a conference call with conservative activists: "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."  Bill Kristol was more detailed, but sent the same message:

With Obamacare on the ropes, there will be a temptation for opponents to let up on their criticism, and to try to appear constructive, or at least responsible. There will be a tendency to want to let the Democrats' plans sink of their own weight, to emphasize that the critics have been pushing sound reform ideas all along and suggest it's not too late for a bipartisan compromise over the next couple of weeks or months.

My advice, for what it's worth: Resist the temptation. This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.

This is where we are at: Republicans know that, as the minority party, their priorities will not be reflected in the health care reforms.  Worse, they know that successful reform will buoy Obama and the Democrats, and that the majorities the Dems enjoy in both houses will probably increase in 2010 if the democrats are given the credit for successful governance (and, hopefully, a recovering economy).  The Republicans are in a lose-lose situation, and their only win is to block reform and hope for a repeat of 1994, when Clinton's failure set the stage for a GOP takeover.  

So they play it out.  Their backs are against the wall, so they play for time in the hopes they can pull off a win. It's like basketball players fouling to stop the clock when they are behind.  For the GOP, their political calculus is that killing the reforms is the same as a win.  Stop universal health insurance, perpetuate the abuses of health insurance companies, keep WellPoint profitable, allow the explosion of health costs to continue, and 54 million Americans can stay uninsured for all they care.  The fact that there is a measurable human cost to keeping the status quo is irrelevant to them.  McCain ran for president under the admirable slogan "Putting Country First," but the GOP's stragegy now is "Putting Party First."

It's predictable, and it was predicted that we would come to this.  Fair enough.  The Dems in Congress should give up on a hunt for bipartisanhip that doesn't exist and they should pass their bill.  Let Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman cast a symbolic "no" vote for the final bill, so long a they vote for cloture.  We can't afford to delay, and we can't afford to miss this opportunity.


  1. All I gotta say is I hope you can move meat a lot faster than you currently do if this crap passes because you'll be the dood treating all these nouveau-insured and those with private insurance who can no longer get a reasonable appointment after the market is flooded with new "consumers".

    In other news only 26% of those in Massachusetts viewed their health insurance reform a "success" and only 10% say health care has gotten better as a result. This in like the most liberal state in the union.

    Don't think 'reform' is going to be a huge political victory, esp. when the people are left with higher taxes and worse health care. Remember, the vast majority of Americans are happy with their health coverage, and once the market includes all these new people, it's only going to piss them off.

  2. K,

    Bring it on! From my point of view, this will be great. Because all the uninsured are ALREADY choking up my waiting room. At least then I'll get paid for seeing them.


  3. The House Health Care Bill, 1,018-page document, released this week (July 14th, 2009) reveals some concerns as noted by http://www.dentalinsuranceutah.net and http://www.selecthealth.biz Mike Oliphant serves as health care consultant with these two popular websites in Utah. He also is a serving board member with Utah Association of Health Underwriters. A provision within this bill would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

    "Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
    This translates into those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. It is likely that those same people will suffer abnormally high rate increases over time which would force them out of coverage. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
    From the beginning, www.dentalinsuranceutah.net warned that if the government gets into the business of offering subsidized health insurance coverage, the private insurance market will wither. Drawn by a public option that will be 30% to 40% cheaper than their current premiums because taxpayers will be funding it, employers will gladly scrap their private plans and go with Washington's coverage. The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program. That would leave private carriers with 50 million or fewer customers. This could cause the market to, as Lewin Vice President John Sheils put it, "fizzle out altogether."
    What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law. The legislation is also likely to finish off health savings accounts, a goal that Democrats have had for years. They want to crush that alternative because nothing gives individuals more control over their medical care, and the government less, than HSAs. With HSAs out of the way, a key obstacle to the left's expansion of the welfare state will be removed.
    http://www.SelectHealth.biz states that the public option won't be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny. Washington does not have the constitutional or moral authority to outlaw private markets in which parties voluntarily participate. It shouldn't be killing business opportunities, or limiting choices, or legislating major changes in Americans' lives.

  4. I'm conflicted. Anon 10:43 is clearly just link trolling, basically spam. And he just copied the IBD zombie lie I'm about to debunk. But it's on topic. So I guess in my benevolence I won't delete it.

  5. Barack Obama will never -I repeat NEVER- say to your face what he actually plans to do or achieve with these huge new government programs.... like bankrupt the private health insurance industry. Good-faith disclosure is simply not how Obama operates-
    Rather, you get some calculating and specious auditory with styrofoam props to wow the plebes, like the tacky Greek columns in Denver.

    To him, the revolutionary ends justify the Alinskyite means- so the Dear Leader just tells you whatever he needs to, he knows what’s best for you anyway.

    And the truth is that Obama is out to nationalize health care.. they’ll be no private insurance industry left after five years of Obamacare… but of course he’s lying about it.

    As for the American public, the reality that Obama is dishonest and out-of-control seems to finally be setting-in; the poll numbers are now headed steadily south- is he already facing his Waterloo on this legislation?

    Looks like it from where I'm standing...



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