Public Option Still Alive

Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009, at 4:32 PM
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  • Mike - Did you know that most health insurance companies payout about 102% of premiums? The only money they make is on the interest they collect.

    This whole insurance debate has gotten so off in the weeds if anything passes it will be a disaster.

    Since when was the goal for the government to become an insurance company? The whole path we have gone down could be the death nail?

    BTW who is going to pay for all of this????

    -- Posted by wallismarsh on Sun, Oct 25, 2009, at 3:43 PM
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    If it is done right the government will. If we have to pay for it, it doesn't bother me one bit. I'd rather pay into the system and make sure that it is working then hope that it does work.

    That's why whenever a tax is proposed to improve infrastructure I vote yes. I have no problem paying to keep criminals locked up.

    Taxes, in the end, is the least of my concerns.

    Also, wallismarsh, where did you get the information that "insurance companies payout about 102% of premiums"? If the only money they make is on interest than they are charging a fortune on interests.

    The goal of the government is NOT to be an insurance company, it is, or at least should be, the goal to ensure that all Americans are taken care of, not just the ones that can afford it.

    The death nail in what? When Social Security was first passed it was predicted to be the death nail, yet 60 years later we are still doing just fine.

    At the end of the day anytime I hear someone, from the left or the right, say this program will be the death nail, I am pretty confident that the eventual program will be highly successful.

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Sun, Oct 25, 2009, at 4:31 PM
  • Mike,

    Public officials do not have a government run plan where the government is the insurer like the public option would do. They have a private plan through private insurers with benefits that were negotiated between the government and private insurers. How you expect to make a comparison between what public official have and a public option where the government is the insurer, defies logic and ignores the facts of the situation.

    The so-called government plan is done with the same power businesses have to negotiate coverage and premiums for their employees. The difference comes in the fact that the government is the nation's largest employer and therefore has more bargaining power. This is why businesses have been fighting for so long to be allowed to enter pools so that they could increase their negotiating power and receive coverage like ALL federal employees can receive. The excellent coverage that is provided to government employees is the antithesis of what a public option would be. So, why you continue to make this comparison only serves to undermine your credibility.

    Yet, you continue to deceive people and say the goal of the government is not to be an insurance company. A public option is a government insurance plan offered and funded by the government. So does that mean they are becoming an insurance company by accident? I seriously doubt that. They want to control premiums so they use the most expensive and least reliable method by creating the government as an insurance company in competition with private companies. They can set price controls and coverage requirements in legislation if they TRULY cared about affordability and coverage but price controls and coverage requirements don't carry the direct control that they want. This is not about covering people's health and making it affordable as much as it's about control over people.

    I'm sure there are plenty of people who were fooled into believing it's about helping people because they have a genuine desire to help people and they think this is their only chance to do that because it's the closest they've been and that's what the politicians are telling them. However, the people in Washington who are pushing the public option want it for the control. They know that they could pass price controls and coverage requirements much easier than a public option but they desire the power over the principle and this is why they will fail.

    The whole argument for a public option is to compete with private insurance companies. It's no secret that Obama and many democrats want universal heath care and they see this as another phase of that plan. Fortunately, people realize this foolish attempt at incrementally instituting a disastrous system and the devastating consequences this would have on our economy.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 10:54 AM
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    McCook1, are you now denying that Medicare is a government run program?

    Who are you to tell anyone what a Congressman is thinking? Your statement that "the people in Washington who are pushing the public option want it for control" is at worst libelous and slandering and at best an outright lie.

    I know how you feel about the public option that is no secret, but don't sit there and tell me or anyone else what my true intentions or anyone who supports the public option (both Congressmen and the public) what their motives are.

    It is amusing to me that the argument against the public option is that it would devastate the economy. In what way?

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 11:38 AM
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    Is Medicare run efficiently and well, or is it losing money too? If Social Security is just fine, why is there all the hullaballoo about its solvency? My concern isn't about a public insurance ruining the economy, my concern is that the government running yet another big program into the ground. What government run programs work the way we were told they would?

    btw, I think in your blog you meant there are Congressmen on MediCARE not MediCAID, I'm pretty sure their income would put them over the medicaid limit, unless of course, they have some very significant needs and qualify for a waiver.

    Won't all of those "have nots" be eligible for Medicare when they age out?

    -- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 12:22 PM
  • amusing that mike castigates someone for the temerity to suggest what a congressperson is thinking, yet in his post states that "55 republicans will vote against any sort of public option".

    -- Posted by doodle bug on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 12:56 PM
  • McCook1,

    I don't believe Mike was referring to the congressmen using Medicare, not the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP). While Medicare is a "government-run" healthcare system, that could be compared to the so-called "public option", the FEHBP is a system of private insurance (as you pointed out), that would actually be close in comparison to the "health insurance exchange" that the reform bill aims to set up.

    "It's no secret that Obama and many democrats want universal heath care". Well, yes. I certainly hope they do. Universal healthcare simply means that everyone in the country has access to healthcare. I would think that's a goal we can all share.

    What "universal healthcare" does NOT (necessarily) mean is that government CONTROLS the healthcare. That would be a single-payer system. There are countries who achieve universal healthcare with a private insurance industry (e.g. Switzerland).

    As for the government trying to control our lives through healthcare, I don't know that there is really any evidence to support that assertion, other than paranoia about the government. The public option on the table is relatively weak.

    And estimates predict that only about 1/3 of the uninsured would opt-in to the public option (the rest enrolling in private healthcare). It doesn't really seem to be a government take over. To get there, the public option would need to be wildly successful, with MUCH higher enrollment rates than anticipated. High enough that the majority of the country gets behind a single-payer plan.

    -- Posted by jhat on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 1:14 PM
  • SWNebr,

    Medicare is run efficiently, with a relatively low overhead cost. Just take a look at the budget, CMS (which administers Medicare/Medicaid) has a minuscule budget compared to the Medicare/Medicaid total, only a few percent.

    The reason Medicare is in trouble is that health costs are rising so drastically, and the Medicare payroll taxes have no risen accordingly (no on wants to increase taxes). That's why lowering long-term costs is such an important component of the ongoing healthcare reform. Medicare needs to be fixed by either lowering healthcare costs, or failing that, raising payroll taxes. (Also there is the completely unfunded Medicare part D mucking up the works.)

    And Social Security is not in trouble, not real trouble anyway. If nothing is done, it may be insolvent in about 30 years. But that means that we have 30 years to DO something about it (though it will hopefully be fixed sooner than later). In the early 80's, Social Security flirted with IMMEDIATE insolvency. And we fixed it then with the Social Security reforms of 1983. This time we've got 30 years before the system is projected to go insolvent. Plenty of time to pass another amendment to fix it. (and honestly, this was expected to occur because of the retirement of the baby boomers. The commission from 1982 tried to prevent this, but noted that further action could be required).

    -- Posted by jhat on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 1:25 PM
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    doodle bug you should really pay attention as all Republicans have stated on record that they will vote against any bill that has the public option on it. That's not my opinion, that's fact.

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 2:04 PM
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    duffer that was an unfortunate attack you just cast out. I don't know of anyone on this site (on the liberal side) that has not given credit or tried to take away credit to the Reagan Administration regarding Social Security.

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 2:06 PM
  • yes, mike, they have stated that. do you think everyone voted/votes as they say, no exception? if even ONE republican votes for some public option, would you then be considered a liar?

    -- Posted by doodle bug on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 2:51 PM
  • Assuming you want to make the argument that everyone else should have the same oppurtunity as the members of Congress who are on Medicare then my argument is even easier... everybody already has the same opportunity to be on Medicare. That's nothing special.

    Obama has shown his support for a single-payer in the past but admitted they wouldn't get there immdiately and then of course, denied that support later. He's also said "I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There's going to be potentially some transition process." Those are some serious red flags that should not be ignored or brushed aside.

    Are you seriously going to sit there and try chastising me with your incredulous accusation of libel? Slander doesn't apply to blogs... vlogs maybe but not blogs. Libel has to be directed at

    someone specifically and it has to be done with malice, knowing that it was a false statement being made. No specific person was listed therefore, you can not identify it to the harm of a specific person and I wouldn't make the statement if I didn't believe it to be true so malice is out. Now, in order for it to be an outright lie, I would still have to believe my statement and I do not use arguments that I believe to be lies. So just get off your soap box.

    Don't you sit around and tell Congressmen and the public what their true intentions are all the time? From Republican Congressmen to the people at the tea parties, you have done it consistently. I suppose it's only ok when you do it though.

    I'm so used to democrats who often substitute the term "universal health care" for "single payer" and I suppose I've become a perpetuator to the misuse of the term and for that I apologize. My point was that people are aware of the efforts to incrementally institute a single-payer system and a single payer system would devastate the economy because not only would you have several major insurers going out of business. You would have independant agencies going out of business. These jobs will not be replaced by the government plan. There will be analysts, secretaries, insurance agents, researchers and others who will lose their job because they no longer have a company to work for and the government won't need all of them. The government will offer jobs where it deems fit but the jobs lost will be as widespread as you can get. When you eliminate a private industry for a government takeover, it will devastate the economy. All the businesses that rely on these insurers for their investment business would instantly tank at the loss of so many large investments. If you think the stock market took a hard hit with this recession, wait until you take away all that business with no opportunity to get it back. This is the system Obama supported but he realizes he doesn't have the votes or the public support to get it all at once so he's taking it a little at a time until he gets to the ultimate goal of a single payer system.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 3:37 PM
  • dufferxyz,

    I'm happy to give credit where it's due for Social Security Reform. In 1982, the National Commission on Social Security Reform was created by a BIPARTISAN effort between the largely democratic congress and the Reagan administration. Both the administration and the congress deserve the credit for "fixing" social security. It required a bipartisan effort back then, and it will require a bipartisan effort to fix it in the future (which is why I'm worried it might not happen). And just because I don't agree with everything Reagan did doesn't mean I'm not willing to give him credit where it's due. And the same goes for President Bush.

    Also, Reagan didn't preside over the largest tax hike in history, but one of the largest tax CUTS. A cut that sent us pretty far into debt. The national debt increased by over about $2 trillion during his tenure. Now, this may have been necessary to counter stagflation, just like the current stimulus is necessary to counter the recession. But it certainly set the precedent for modern US deficit spending.

    As far as CMS being efficient, just look at the numbers.

    CMS's budget for FY2009 was: $3.3 billion

    Medicare+Medicaid budget for FY2009 was: $632 billion.

    So CMS (which administers Medicare/Medicaid) had a budget that was less than 1% of the Medicare/Medicaid budget.

    So yeah, I'd say that's efficient.

    And as for Medicare part D, it's not that we COULDN'T pay for it, it's that we DIDN'T pay for it. I think Medicare part D is a good thing! I want seniors to have better access to prescription drugs. I want my grandmother to have whatever medication she needs. But I'm also willing to pay for that via taxes, so that my grandmother, and your grandmother, and everyone's grandmother can have their medications.

    The current healthcare reform bills cost about $900 billion to $1 trillion, over the course of 10 years. The congress has already identified funds to pay that amount (or at least most of it). As long as the price of the bill remains below $1 trillion, it should be paid for and deficit neutral.

    -- Posted by jhat on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 4:30 PM
  • dufferxyz,

    Actually it's not per year cost and jhat, that 900 billion - 1 trillion is the cost between now and 10 years from now. However, the plan is not designed to become effective until 2013 so that cost is actually for 6 years of the program being implemented. So instead of an annual cost of 90-100 billion per year, it is actually closer to 150-166 billion per year. Now if you use that for a full 10 year implementation of the program the price tag is 1.5 Trillion to 1.66 Trillion which is 50-66% higher than what is being pitched as the "10 year cost". That is substantially higher than what is being portrayed as a 90-100 billion annual cost. That is simply not an accurate representation of the numbers in context with the proposed legislation it was based on.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 5:19 PM
  • How about government run hospitals? Freshly graduated med students could pay off student loan while gaining valuable experience. It would also be a great place to teach nurses, PA's and tech's. We could skip the insurance scheme completely.

    -- Posted by Chunky Peanut Butter on Mon, Oct 26, 2009, at 6:54 PM
  • McCook1,

    Actually, that's not quite accurate. And of course, it depends on what bill you are actually discussing. The two primary one's up for discussion are the house bill (HR3200), and the Baucus bill (senate).

    HR 3200 has been scored by the CBO. The deficit impact was assessed over the 10 year period of 2010-2019, as it's changes would be implemented immediately. They found that it would decrease the deficit over the first 5 years by $44 billion, but that after the second 5 years it would have increased the deficit by $239 billion. (possibly because parts of it would not take effect until 2013, as you pointed out).

    The Baucus Bill is not complete, and has not been completely scored by the CBO yet. It's a bit more prescient, as it's the one currently being debated. The CBO estimated it's costs at around $900 billion for the 2010-2019 ten year period. And they estimated that it's effect on the deficit would be to reduce it by $81 billion over the ten year period.

    Score for HR3200

    Preliminary score for Baucus bill

    I haven't had time to completely read either document, just scanned for the budget impact. Let me know if you find anything else interesting in there.

    -- Posted by jhat on Tue, Oct 27, 2009, at 2:31 PM
  • I am much simpler than most everybody else on here, I didnt even understand half of what I just read. As I see it, the problem with the health care industry is the cost. Insurance companies obviously make money or they wouldnt be here. But the rates normally go up in response to the risk. I have seen what a Doctor has to pay in malpractice insurance premiums, its crazy. The premiums are that high because alot of people have been awarded alot of money as a result of malpractice suits. I think some work could be done on limiting how much a person can recover from such a lawsuit. I have also seen what hospital have to pay for the equipment used in the hospital, that is also crazy. The epuipment is costly because it has to be made to an exacting standard, and only a few manufacturers make it. These manufacturers are also routinely sued and pay out large sums of money for manufacturing flaws in the epuipment, and the insurance to cover that is quite costly as well. There is nothing hi-tech about most of this equipment, it just costs too much because there is a significant risk assumed when you manufacture it. I guess what I am saying is that if some of the risk where to be trimmed out, the cost of health care insurance would come down to a more reasonable level naturally. I think a government ran health care program is just a band-aid. I think we need to look at fixing the problem from the inside.

    -- Posted by seentoomuch on Tue, Oct 27, 2009, at 3:12 PM
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