Posted by: sweeneyblog | December 8, 2009

Health Care Reform: Looking Grim

Alright, ignore all the conflicting reports about the health care bill, here is the condensed version.

*The bill opens up Medicare to those 55 and up.
*The bill has some general restrictions on the health care industry (no more dropping people for pre-existing conditions and the whatnot)
*The bill has a public option . . . but it is "triggered". Basically, the public option only occurs if the insurance industry does not form some non-profit options for people in the next four years.

Crappy? Yes. Toothless? You bet. Able to get Republican and moderate democrat votes? Probably. Basically, the public option ran into a wall of 6-10 conservative Democrats who were committed to preserving insurance industry profits, and nothing Harry Reid did could change their minds.

Where is Obama on all this? Supposedly supporting the triggered option. Frankly, Obama never pushed very hard for the public option and I get the feeling that he is just in favor of whatever he can get through the Senate and call mildly successful.

Filled with crushing hopeless despair? Don’t give up yet. The bill still has to be voted on (it will pass, don’t worry). After that, it goes into conference with the much much stronger House bill. Hopefully there we can undo most of this damage and give Obama something strong to sign. But honestly? Things aren’t looking good.

EDIT: It looks like some very good stuff made it into the bill, including an amendment that requires that Insurance companies spend 90% of the premiums we pay on actually providing us services. Also, the Medicare buy-in is a very significant first step. It can be expanded in the future to provide single-payer. Very much how Civil Unions in this state have been a slow and steady expansion towards gay marriage. We started with a really crappy civil unions law and have been pushing forward towards the full deal.

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