Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, January 4th, 2010.


More on the Mandate

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Health Care

James Oliphant writes in the Chicago Tribune that the mandate is being opposed by many progressives as well as most conservatives. The article does a good job of presenting both sides of this argument. Here’s part of the pro-mandate argument:

The justification for the mandate seems simple: It reflects the basic concept underlying all insurance. A large number of people pay relatively modest premiums, creating a pool of money big enough to take care of those who need help. Having people of all ages participate is especially important with health care, analysts note, because the medical problems that result in big claims are found disproportionately in middle-aged and older Americans.

If younger, healthier people go without insurance, premiums for the others would be driven higher.

The objection is that, especially without the public option, people are going to be forced to purchase increasingly unaffordable insurance and thereby enrich the insurance industry.

To which the pro-mandate side might respond that insurance is becoming increasingly unaffordable as it is, and those who go without insurance not only put themselves at terrible health and financial risk, they are also driving up the cost for everyone else, because health care bills that are paid get jacked up to pay for people who can’t pay.

As it is, there is some incentive for young and healthy people to get insured, because once they have a pre-existing condition they may not be able to purchase insurance. However, under the current bill, beginning in 2014 insurance companies will no longer be allowed to refuse to take a customer because of his pre-existing conditions. This would make it a lot easier to just put off getting health insurance until one begins to need health care beyond an annual flu shot.

But that would be a disaster for the people who are paying for insurance, because if younger, healthier people are not paying into the risk pool, there are more claims against fewer dollars. And the cost of insurance goes up.

There is a real concern that people are going to be required to buy policies they cannot afford. However,

Under the Senate bill, all a person would have to do is pay $750 per year or 2 percent of household income, whichever is greater, in order to avoid the mandate. The House penalty is slightly higher. (This difference will be worked out in negotiations this month.) …

… Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute says much of the public’s resistance stems from still-sketchy details about how the new insurance exchanges that would likely be established for those without job-related coverage would operate. People who earn just over 100 percent above the federal poverty line would become eligible for Medicaid — and those up to 400 percent would qualify for federal subsidies.

I would like to see Medicaid expanded even more, and I would like to see more subsidies, and that may be something we should work on. But killing the mandate is un-progressive, IMO. And yes, with single payer this wouldn’t be an issue. And if I had the money I’d move to a penthouse on Park Avenue.

See also Nate Silver.

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What Buffoonery Looks Like

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Obama Administration

It looks like Brit Hume:

For those who are video challenged, Hume said this about Tiger Woods:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith,” said Hume. “He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, ‘Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

I wrote a response to Mr. Hume on the other blog. See also Steve Benen.

Update: The righties immediately went on the offensive and complained that liberal criticism of Brit Hume is bias against Christianity. They don’t notice that Hume insulted Buddhism. See, for example, La Shawn Barber and the Gateway Pundit.

In other words, when a national news personality insults Buddhism, that’s OK; when a blogger calls out the national news personality for insulting Buddhism, that’s an attack on Christianity, and unforgivable.

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