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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Schedule of benefits, Maddow version:

Rachel Maddow Show, March 22, 2010, "GOP seeks to take health care away from Americans," includes interview with Representative Barney Frank

The item Rachel Maddow points out from the health legislation I find striking is that the companies are only required to use 80% of our mandatory premiums for actual medical expenses. That's awful! Medicare, by contrast, averages about 96% payout on actual medical expenses. Yet Rachel presents it as some sort of benefit.

In the last post, I call this "loony time." And it is. There is an unnatural spasm of celebration on the pro-Democrat side, for a bill that at best has minor, compromised insurance reforms. Meanwhile the opposition is reduced to political threats mostly unrelated to the bill except occasionally focused on the bill's cost, not to mention bigoted wingnut protesters hurling epithets at gay and black members of Congress. Oy.

My take on the bill is aligned with the pro-single-payer doctors:

Pro-single-payer doctors: Health bill leaves 23 million uninsured
A false promise of reform
For Immediate Release
March 22, 2010 ...

Instead of eliminating the root of the problem - the profit-driven, private health insurance industry - this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers' defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.

The hype surrounding the new health bill is belied by the facts:
  • About 23 million people will remain uninsured nine years out. That figure translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering.
  • Millions of middle-income people will be pressured to buy commercial health insurance policies costing up to 9.5 percent of their income but covering an average of only 70 percent of their medical expenses, potentially leaving them vulnerable to financial ruin if they become seriously ill. Many will find such policies too expensive to afford or, if they do buy them, too expensive to use because of the high co-pays and deductibles.
  • Insurance firms will be handed at least $447 billion in taxpayer money to subsidize the purchase of their shoddy products. This money will enhance their financial and political power, and with it their ability to block future reform.
  • The bill will drain about $40 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the tens of millions who will remain uninsured.
  • People with employer-based coverage will be locked into their plan's limited network of providers, face ever-rising costs and erosion of their health benefits. Many, even most, will eventually face steep taxes on their benefits as the cost of insurance grows.
  • Health care costs will continue to skyrocket, as the experience with the Massachusetts plan (after which this bill is patterned) amply demonstrates.
  • The much-vaunted insurance regulations - e.g. ending denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions - are riddled with loopholes, thanks to the central role that insurers played in crafting the legislation. Older people can be charged up to three times more than their younger counterparts, and large companies with a predominantly female workforce can be charged higher gender-based rates at least until 2017.
  • Women's reproductive rights will be further eroded, thanks to the burdensome segregation of insurance funds for abortion and for all other medical services.

It didn't have to be like this. ...
No it didn't. But the opposition to the actual provisions of the bill (as opposed to that of Republican / wingnut lying looniness) is pretty close to zero outside the single-payer community. Rachel Maddow missed that the companies will be "covering an average of only 70 percent" of medical expenses for those with insurance! To me that does not look like a formula to eliminate medical bankruptcy.

I suppose now the senate bill is law, and "fixes" probably will pass the senate and also become law. I won't join the crazy Republican "repeal" movement. But it sure does look to me like real health reform is now off the table for at least another twenty years.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The health bill neither is the "Armageddon" that the Republicans claim, nor the greatest social legislation since Civil Rights and Medicare in the 1960s. Rather, it's a warmed over version of Republican Bob Dole's individual private insurance mandate proposal from 1994. It is what Barack Obama campaigned against versus Hillary Clinton and later John McCain in 2008. But you know, that's all ancient history for the Democrats now.

Will it "cover" the uninsured millions and prevent anyone from ever again having to declare bankruptcy due to health costs? Or will millions who for one reason or another can't/won't pay the premiums (that will still be exorbitant) remain uncovered? Meanwhile will insurance companies enjoy not having to pay out on 40% of the health costs the bill says can be charged out-of-pocket as the taxpayer dumps in trillions in subsidies?

Oy. This legislation does say that insurance must be issued to everyone who pays. I guess that's progress. It might cut back on insurance company cherry picking, if they can't find a way around. After all, the potentially significant pieces of the legislation will not even begin to take effect until 2013!

So those who predict the end of time, as well as those who hail the second coming of Doctor King sorely will be disappointed. By the time fall midterm elections roll around, today's spasms of looniness will have receded in the collective memory.

Related posts:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Howard Dean comes to his senses.
HOWARD DEAN: You're going to be forced to buy health insurance from a company that?s going to take, on average, 27 percent of your money so they can pay CEOs $20 million a yearly and so they can return have return on equity in their shareholders. And there's no choice about that. If you don't get that insurance, you're going to get?you?re going to get a fine.

So, this is?this is a bill that was fundamentally written by staffers who are friendly to the insurance industry. Held up so?and was friendly to the insurance industry by senators who take a lot of money from the insurance industry. And it is not health care reform. I think it's too bad it's just come to this. ...

DEAN: No, absolutely not. You can?t vote for a bill like this in good conscience. It caused too much money. It isn?t health care reform. It's not even insurance reform.

Take, for example, this?there?s a lot of talk about people who have pre-existing conditions can get health insurance. Well, not exactly. The fine print in the Senate says about health care industry?the health care industry gets to charge you three times as much if you?re older than if you?re younger. And they get to write the rules. That?s in the Senate bill.

This bill is no longer reform.
Later in the same Countdown program, Howard Fineman offers this assessment of the worth of promises made during the Obama 2008 political campaign,
O'DONNELL: And, Howard, quickly, it would be a bill filled with things that were not in the Obama campaign, filled with taxes that were not mentioned in the Obama campaign, an individual mandate that President Obama campaigned against and other items.

So, how do you score the Obama campaign promise versus the way this bill looks at this point?

That's ancient history for all the Democrats now, Lawrence. They want a bill, almost any bill. If it has some of those core provisions in it, they'll gladly take it, if they can get it.
I'll be sure to quote that line to the next Democrat who makes a progressive campaign promise.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Public option still dead
I guess nobody told Howard Dean

Now click the image for link to Countdown video. Gotta love the image of Olympia Snowe's nostrils "freaking out." Damn right I wish she'd just get benched.

The breaking story is that there is a Democratic "deal to drop a government-run insurance option." Maybe it's in exchange for a very limited Medicare expansion to people as young as 55, in other words people the insurance companies may not love anyway.

See below the posts last summer on the death of the public option, especially Public option died (somebody tell Howard Dean). Listen to how wrong he was about his Democrats back then. He should be asking, we all should be asking, Just who do these fucking Democrats work for? And why are they any better than Olympia Snowe?

Related posts:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

H.R. 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act, is anything but. It requires little beyond some modest caps on abusive co-pays and a requirement for guaranteed issue even if there are "pre-existing conditions." In return, the law would deliver tens of millions of new captive customers to non-competitive private insurance companies under the specter of tax penalties for those who won't cooperate.

Businesses that depend on low-wage workers will celebrate clauses deflecting the need for them to cover younger employees. The Stupak anti-abortion amendment rightly is being called the "sepsis amendment" because of its threat to deny women in need treatment thus driving them to undergo unsafe procedures. Thanks a lot, Mike Michaud. The so-called "public option" is in there, but it is effectively disabled for nearly everybody. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has it pegged just about right:

Kucinich: Why I Voted NO
Washington, Nov 7
But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies ? a bailout under a blue cross.

By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress' blog, Think Progress, states "since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise." Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that "money will start flowing in again" to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The "robust public option" which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.
Maybe a filibuster by Joe Lieberman now is the best chance to save the Democrats from themselves, and us too in the process.

Related posts:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Historic legislation to expand U.S. health care and control costs won its first Republican supporter Tuesday and cleared a key Senate hurdle, a double-barreled triumph that propelled President Barack Obama?s signature issue toward votes this fall in both houses of Congress.

"When history calls, history calls," said Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, whose declaration of support ended weeks of suspense and provided the only drama of a 14-9 vote in the Senate Finance Committee. ...
That's the front page of the Bangor Daily News today.

If you read down a ways, you'll find some discussion about what is actually in the damn bill, all couched in the politics.

The devil is in those details: no public option, the deal was "quietly sweetened in recent days for the benefit of hospitals, medical device makers and others to put them on an even plane with doctors," new taxes, individual but no employer mandate.

Snowe clearly is on the wrong side of health care reform. A couple of weeks ago she saw to the defeat of an amendment that would have provided the proposed insurance exchanges with more bargaining power,
Jane Hamsher: Snowe almost singlehandedly made the exchange worthless.
This is the foreseeable result of decades of Snowe being allowed to strike a "moderate" pose before the public and the state's media while operating behind the scenes in service of a well-heeled corporate constituency.

Related posts:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe is on the wrong side of health care reform. By seeing to the defeat of an amendment that would have provided the proposed insurance exchanges with more bargaining power,
Snowe almost singlehandedly made the exchange worthless.
Who does she work for?

Related previous posts:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maine senator does the dirty work on CBS Face the Nation

Wingnuttia rallies, Axelrod finesses, and Snowe leads her gang on Face the Nation
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME): I urged the president to take the public option off the table, because it's universally opposed by all Republicans in the Senate. And therefore, there's no way to pass a plan that includes the public option. So I think he's recognizing that, because it is a roadblock to building the kind of consensus that we need to move forward.
Let's first be absolutely clear about why any sort of public health plan is anathema and such a threat to Big Insurance and the politicians they own. It would divert their premium flow and possibly be run by people whose primary job is to pay the doctor bill rather than enrich their shareholders. It may not be "essential" to Sibelius and Obama, and it would be according to White House spokesman Axelrod "unfortunate" (though apparently not a deal breaker) to have a bill without it. What is extremely essential to Big Insurance is the public plan be killed.

Here's what bugged me about the health insurance speech given by President Obama on Wednesday. It was the way he lumped together and dismissed "left" and "right" reform as a "radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have." Then he finessed his clear desire to drop the public option with rhetoric about keeping "insurance companies honest" while keeping the White House door "open" to "serious" proposals.

I read that as an invitation to submit ways to silence demand for the public option, like the triggers (Snowe's pet idea, but she says herself that's going nowhere) or co-ops, which look to me to be a sham.

Furthermore, the true meaning of this open door policy may be discerned, I believe, if you take a look at who is having trouble entering that door. Earlier in the week there was a story about a new letter to the president from the progressive, pro-public-option Congressional block. As Greg Sargent explained, that White House door has been elusive to the public option group: "Obama had originally promised a meeting to progressives, but mysteriously, it never materialized."

That said, what was the top news story generated by the speech? It was the "You lie" remark from a reactionary Congressman against Obama's assurance that undocumented persons would not receive health benefits under reform. This was leading the news as late as Thursday evening, and even Olympia was taking Congressman Wilson to the woodshed on Sunday.

In fact I find it pathetic that Obama trying to set the record straight about what really is a gutless capitulation on wingnuttia's pet health reform demon--that some undeserving shlub here contrary to status laws may be able to get a flu shot or a bone set--becomes the most important story. Alexander Cockburn aptly pointed out that what Congressman Wilson shouted was true, only about a different part of the speech:
Alexander Cockburn: Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted out "You lie", when Obama said correctly that his plan wouldn't offer services to illegal immigrants. By so saying, of course, Obama was acknowledging that he had just lied when he declared at the start of his speech that adequate medical care is a basic human right. Are undocumented workers, who sustain America's agriculture and much of its building industry, not humans, or humans without rights like the captives Obama still wishes to classify as beyond the protections of the Geneva Protocols?
Here are previous posts that illustrate just how dead the public option is. Given the remarks by Snowe on Sunday, nothing discussed in these was changed due to the Obama speech:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cross posted at Dirigo BLue

Last week, this diary was posted at The Great Orange Satan, my visit to Susan Collins' office, in which the writer, Angela Quatranno describes her attempt to determine Sen. Collins' position on the need for health insurance/care reform. She posted a document she says was given to her by a staffer - the veracity of this document was confirmed to me by another source. It reads:
I continue to have many reservations about the Obama Administration?s health care policies, the bill reported by the Senate Health Committee, and the legislation approved by the House committees. The Washington-run public insurance plan that would be created by these proposals would have the federal government administer the plan and determine benefits, premiums, and payments to physicians and hospitals. Proponents of a public plan claim that it would challenge private insurers to compete on cost and quality. Opponents see it as unfair competition for private insurers and the first step down the path toward a single-payer system because a public plan most likely would lead to the collapse of the private market.
Collins' statement that "the federal government administer the plan and determine benefits, premiums, and payments to physicians and hospitals," is of interest, since currently Medicare does exactly this same thing (of course, for-profit insurers do the same thing, but they aren't part of our elected government). Also, the Veterans Administration hospital system goes even further than that, actually providing care to veterans and those who qualify. That Maine has one of the highest per capita counts of those aged 65 and older (2nd behind Vermont) as well as retired and active duty servicemen and women ought to weigh heavily in the balance for Maine's junior senator.

Apparently these demographic groups do not:
I oppose the Washington-run public plan proposed by the Administration. The nonpartisan Lewin Group has concluded that a public plan open to all and offering Medicare-level reimbursement rates would result in 119 million Americans losing their private coverage. This kind of mass shift would destabilize the insurance market and is also inconsistent with the concept of building on our current system. It also would run contrary to my commitment to ensuring that families are allowed to keep health care coverage that is working for them.
As was noted in these pages, , the Lewin Group is hardly a non-partisan think tank:
Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers.

More specifically, the Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician's group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied its parent company and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the "usual and customary" doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.
This practice of providing bogus data seems prevalent in the for-profit insurance system, as Wendell Potter explained in his testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce. Collins' colleague, Olympia Snowe, sits on that committee - perhaps the two of them could get together at some point and have a little chat.

Collins' continues:
I also oppose having a single-payer system for our country. The experience in other countries with single-payer systems demonstrates that it causes many patients to face long delays in needed tests and treatments. For example, some Canadians are forced to come to American hospitals for treatment because they face lengthy delays in Canada.
Here Collins' repeats conservative talking points that have long since been debunked. First, it is important to remind her that our own Medicare system is a single-payer, and was used by Taiwan as a model for their own health care system. Secondly, those 46 million Americans that do not have health insurance face long delays as well, delays that often result in their ailments becoming acute, and requiring invasive - and expensive - care.

And while the Canadian system is not without fault (what system is), it is telling that Collins does what most opponents of single-payer do: not mention that France not only has a single payer system that covers everyone in that country, a system similar to our Medicare, but that it provides the best care in the world for half the cost that Americans pay (percentage of GDP).

There's more:
Nobody knows what "health care co-ops" actually would be. Huffington Post has a good item showing media fumbling on this concept. I don't pretend to know anything either.

But that won't stop me from speculating: "Co-ops" will be regional-flavored marketing offices run by insurance companies for the benefit of insurance companies. Marketing, including garbage imagery of happy customers, will be their purpose.

The twist in the law will be that the taxpayer will inject a pile of cash into these operations, basically helping insurance company bottom lines by having the public pay for their deceptive marketing practices.

Remember, this is just speculation.
Anti-war signs greet Snowe
Impeccable logic: health not war

Olympia Snowe has made up her mind on health insurance reform. There is not to be a public option. Period.

"It's not in our plan or currently on the table," she said.

Her "unannounced" appearances around the state this past week therefore would seem to have less to do with "gathering input" (as WCSH teevee put it) than just seeing if any of the rubes are upset that Snowe has been batting on the insurance company team since day one.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

H/T to Glenn Greenwald for this great item on paid shills, in particular Lanny Davis. This on White House insurance transparency is in the same item:

I'd rather forgotten this, but it fits right in with stuff I've been posting recently: President Obama promised completely open transparency in reforming health insurance by saying the negotiations would be "on C-Span." But how's that worked? Despite a lot of "stakeholder" discussion, the Obama transparency plan has been to hold closed-door meetings with health care executives and lobbyists while putting up a vigorous defense against lawsuits seeking to overturn the Bush White House policy of keeping visitor logs secret.

At his July 22 press conference, President Obama responded to a question about the secret visitor logs:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, on the list of health care executives who've visited us, most of the time you guys have been in there taking pictures, so it hasn't been a secret. And my understanding is we just sent a letter out providing a full list of all the executives. But frankly these have mostly been at least photo sprays where you could see who was participating.

With respect to all the negotiations not being on C-SPAN, you will recall in this very room that our kickoff event was here on C-SPAN, and at a certain point you start getting into all kinds of different meetings -- Senate Finance is having a meeting, the House is having a meeting. If they wanted those to be on C-SPAN then I would welcome it. I don't think there are a lot of secrets going on in there.
Evidently there were some secrets going on in there, given the industry-friendly position shifts that have been revealed in the last couple of weeks, including on the need for a public plan and prohibition on use of government clout to reduce drug prices.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seller's market

Chad Terhune, Senior writer at BusinessWeek, is co-author of the article "The Health Insurers Have Already Won"

This report confirms the death of the public plan.
Terhune: ... there's not going to be a public plan. And I could have told you that from my reporting earlier in the summer, just was not going to happen.
In my mind the real money quote in this interview describes exactly how the Democratic legislation will be shaped to enhance private insurance profits through nasty employer/individual mandate coupled with reduced minimum benefits. Here is the money quote,
Terhune: ... they want to whittle that [the minimum benefit] down to where you and I would have to pay more out of pocket, insurance would cover less. They've been very persuasive on that, knocking down that number of what the minimum benefits would be. ... OK, if you say these are the minimum benefits, these are the package, and it comes with an actuarial figure, that's basically a percentage of how much the insurance company pays on average and how much you and I as consumers would pay out of pocket. And at one point it was about 76 percent, being the percentage the insurance company would pay, and we would pay the rest in co-pays, deductibles out of pocket. And over time, through the Senate Finance Committee, that's gotten whittled down to about 65 percent. [emphasis added]
My Democratic registration card is being ripped up as I write this.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Matt Lauer: Is it dead?

Howard Dean: No, you really can't do health reform without it.
This is all very fascinating because I read in my Bangor Daily News this morning an Associated Press story with the lede,
Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.
The idea is Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said over the weekend that the public option is "not the essential element" of health reform. Lauer had an Obama quote calling the public option a "sliver" of the total effort, in other words something easily cast aside in compromise.

Howard Dean, on the other hand, evidently sees the public option as something comparable to Medicare or the VA system. That looks like fantasy to me. Obama certainly does not and probably never has given public option this kind of weight.

I'll see you at the town office, where I'll be signing my Green Party registration card.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This from the Friday column certainly is true.

So far, at least, the Obama administration?s response to the outpouring of hate on the right has had a deer-in-the-headlights quality. It?s as if officials still can?t wrap their minds around the fact that things like this can happen to people who aren?t named Clinton, as if they keep expecting the nonsense to just go away.

What, then, should Mr. Obama do? It would certainly help if he gave clearer and more concise explanations of his health care plan. To be fair, he?s gotten much better at that over the past couple of weeks.
But I don't think Krugman quite gets the reason Obama and the Democrats aren't more able to get those "concise explanations" of the real plans out there--employer/individual insurance mandates and secret drug deals broadly will be disliked once understood. The lunacies for now are a distraction from the fact Obama is in the process of eviscerating his own campaign promises.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Harsh reality.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Obama flops, Democrats lack credibility

Obama can't be honest: secret deal with pharma and other holes of duplicity big enough for wingnuttia to rip through

Update: Via Corrente, Huffington Post has uncovered an internal White House memo that confirms the Obama deal with Big Pharma.

Today the Bangor Daily News reprinted an interesting Washington Post op-ed piece by Danielle Allen on problems of their own making the Democrats are having in the health insurance reform fracas. Towards the beginning of the piece is its best observation:
In his debates with Hillary Clinton in the winter of 2008, Barack Obama flatly denied that his approach to reforming health care would require an individual mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance. Events have proved him wrong.

His administration now agrees with the analysts who argue that only by ensuring that no one games the system can reform be made to work. The mandate serves to ensure that individuals do not buy insurance only when they are ill. Other elements of the reform similarly serve to ensure that neither insurance companies nor employers will game the system. As Paul Krugman has argued in the New York Times, each of these strategies to prevent gaming is necessary to make the whole thing work. The point, though, is that the push for implementation has turned Obama's policies into something other than what he promised.
Bingo. Obama and the Democrats can't be honest about what they are doing without highlighting how different Obama the president is from Obama the Democratic candidate.

There are good items at Huffington Post and Time's Swampland that trace the story of how Obama has weaseled around through secret deals his earlier promises to cut costs by forcing drug companies to negotiate prices.

So now I see in my email David Axelrod saying I should forward the White House "Reality Check" on health reform. I'm glad to do it (below). I suppose if they could be honest that the plan is to include employer and individual insurance mandates along with unwieldy regulations designed to keep financial wizards and other crooks from gaming that kind of system, it would be easier to "hear" what they are trying to do. But I note that there is no mention of these essential aspect anywhere in the Reality Check site. A close reading also reveals private-insurance-friendly statements like "as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full." Does that mean if you get sick and can't pay, then they can drop you?

Here is my answer to all these problems: single payer.

There is plenty else underneath the surface of the (apparent) Democratic plan that undermines its credibility. See here at Corrente, for example. The Democrats have no way to just hand out to people at the town halls and elsewhere a one-sheet that explains exactly what their plan would do. You wouldn't have to be on the lunatic fringe to feel betrayed.

White House "Reality Check" below:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gerald posted HERE that the "best" thing that could happen on health reform is that a watered down plan fail. Maybe. But I think it's very positive that the House Blue Dogs have met a progressive buzz saw.

The words of the president most certainly tell the truth about the problems that must be solved:
President Obama: Let me be specific. We will stop insurance companies from denying you coverage because of your medical history. (Applause.) I've told this story before -- I will never forget watching my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final days, worrying about whether her insurer would claim her illness was a preexisting condition so they could wiggle out of paying for her coverage. How many of you have worried about the same thing? (Applause.) A lot of people have gone through this. Many of you have been denied insurance or heard of someone who was denied insurance because they got -- had a preexisting condition. That will no longer be allowed with reform. (Applause.) We won't allow that. (Applause.) We won't allow that.

With reform, insurance companies will have to abide by a yearly cap on how much you can be charged for your out-of-pocket expenses. No one in America should go broke because of an illness. (Applause.) We will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies -- (applause) -- eye and foot exams for diabetics, so we can avoid chronic illnesses that cost not only lives, but money. (Applause.)

No longer will insurance companies be allowed to drop or water down coverage for someone who's become seriously ill. That's not right, it's not fair. (Applause.) We will stop insurance companies from placing arbitrary caps on the coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime. (Applause.)
What remains to be seen is if there will be a bill with strong reforms covering all these directions, if there will be gang-of-six crap that makes a mockery of the president, or if there will be nothing. Today I'm feeling that if single-payer truly is barred (on the national level though perhaps not at the state), the first outcome is preferable to the third, but the middle outcome is the worst of all possible worlds.

Update: One more thing I meant to mention--Chelli Pingree is a progressive committed to a robust public option, while Mike Michaud poses as a Blue Dog. In Mike's favor he has said recently in an op-ed, "I support a public insurance option."

Update 2: Pingree did sign the aforementioned letter, Michaud did not.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Appears so, if Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), our own Olympia Snowe, and four other senators rounding out the "gang of six" have their way:
Already, the group of six has tossed aside the idea of a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, which the president supports but Republicans said was a deal-breaker.
I'm in favor of single payer. But if Obama is going to get through some kind of inferior public plan, doesn't he need to raise the temperature by insisting this gang of six not control the resulting bill?

Update: The story I cite here and Obama's limp defense of public option must be seen in the context of the "co-op squeeze play" Jane Hamsher writes about, HERE. Whaaaat? Insurance stocks SOARING?