Pull “The Trigger”

Certainly President Obama’s health care proposals fall short of what most of us want — national single payer — but at least there’s a public insurance plan that promises to provide coverage for many Americans now locked out of private insurance, either by lack of money or a “preexisting condition.”

Although I expect many Americans would still fall through the cracks and remain cut off from health care, I believe the public option would be a great help to millions who don’t have health insurance now. If that option is removed from the reform package, however, what’s left will amount to feeble tweaks of the current system that would make little tangible difference to anyone. Well, anyone but health insurance executives.

Naturally Republicans are fighting the public plan tooth and nail. Now there’s a “compromise” option championed by “moderates” that effectively would remove the public plan without officially killing it.

My definition of a “moderate” in this context — politicians who vote against the interests of their constituents not because of lunatic right-wing ideology, but because they’ve just plain been bought off.

“Moderate” Republican Senator Olympia Snowe came up with the idea of a “trigger” that would postpone the public plan to some hazy place in the future unless private insurance fails to meet certain benchmarks. Then the public plan option would be taken off the shelf and put into effect.

This means there never will be a public plan, except on paper. Even if private insurance misses the benchmarks, you know that Congress will come up with fine excuses for them so that the public plan doesn’t happen.

Ryan Grim reports for Huffington Post that a pack of Blue Dog Democrats are backsliding on earlier pledges to back the public plan and are coming out in favor of the trigger. Although the Blue Dog Coalition (click here for member list) hasn’t officially declared support for the trigger, it may be heading in that direction. If enough Democrats sell us out for the “trigger” option, health care reform is dead.

And, once again, the Democratic Party will have failed us, and once again, special interests and not the people will set public policy.

10 thoughts on “Pull “The Trigger”

  1. Ever since I was 10 years old and Nixon was elected, most of the stupid and hurtful ideas came from the Republican side. Not all, but most. It was the Democrats who either stopped the idea or mitigated the worst aspects of it.

    No more. In the last 30 to 40 years, the ever increasing influence of corporate lobbyist’s (who actually determine who runs and who wins elections), has made the two parties more and more alike. The terms Republican and Democrat are archaic terms.

    We need new parties and party designations: Corporatist Party vs. Citizen Party. We need to identify those candidates who are for citizens and those who are against. We need to get those who are not out of office so that we can elect those who are.
    This will take a lot of money on our part to overcome the lobbyist’s and vote in politicians who are citizen-oriented.
    How convenient for the lobbyist’s that there’s a Recession/Depression to help keep us economically disadvantaged. I’ll spend what I have to get our people in, and the craven lobbyist candidates out.
    THIS is the fight of our lifetime. Who will control the destiny of the United States of America? Will it be corporations, or people?

  2. Obama’s plan is not a health care plan. Let me repeat that; Obama’s plan is not a health care plan. It will not provide health care to one single American. It is a health insurance plan, and will provide health insurance that will result in millions of Americans still being bankrupted and thrown out of their homes, life savings gone, by major illness or medical catastrophe. That is not a health care plan, and we will remain the only major, first world, industrialized nation that allows its citizens to suffer that fate. Do not praise Obama for this travesty. Do not praise Obama for lacking the courage to even suggest or allow to be discussed a plan that would prevent this.

  3. The fascinating rhetorical part of the trigger concept to me is, how could you define a service-based trigger that hasn’t already been met?

    It’s not like the problems with the for-profit private insurance industry haven’t been blisteringly obvious for years now. The health-care-financing system is a huge disaster for everyone except insurance companies, and people have been complaining about it for a looooong time. If the corporate and financial dynamics were such that they could change, they’d have done it already.

    The only legitimate reason for a trigger mechanism is when you expect a change to happen, but you want a backstop in case it doesn’t. How does that apply here?

    The private insurance industry is why we’re in this mess – now they are essentially saying “Oh! You wanted us to actually provide affordable health care to everyone, instead of serving our for-profit shareholders, driving profit by restricting coverage and refusing payments? Why didn’t you say so?! Now that you’ve spoken up, we’ll get right on that, you betcha.”

    It’s so clearly a situation in which a change is NOT going to happen that the suggestion of a trigger mechanism is clearly just the sort of duplicitous game suggested in this post. It isn’t really about giving the industry time to reform itself, it’s about giving the industry cover by “kicking the can further down the road”.

  4. I think this particular fight – health care – will be seen as a defining moment for Obama. If he can’t make the public option fly – and loses to the watered down smoke and mirrors trigger espoused by the “moderates” – his administration will be seen largely as a failure.

    The jury is still out on his economic program, but I expect a minor recovery by later 2009-2010, followed by an even deeper and longer recession. The economy won’t really rebound until all the housing problems are behind us. I am pleased that Obama tried to soften the blow of this depression for many, but I also sense that events economically are in motion that are 1) beyond the ability of his team to control, and 2) his team is part of the problem.

    What’s funny, in an up-is-down way, is that the arguments against the public option revolve around the idea that without the overhead of private insurance companies, the public option will be able to undercut them, potentially driving them out of business. The people making this argument are unable to see that this is not a bug, it’s a feature. Spending less money on health care is a good thing, not a bad, and they’re unable to get out of the way, and get behind this. The only good thing about this, is that at least people are focused on this “problem” instead of on some irrelevant distraction.

    As for a Corporatist Party vs a Citizen Party – until we have public financing of elections, we’ll at best have a weak “citizen” party, that on extremely rare occasions – when the corporate beast stumbles – briefly gets the upper hand. Most of us hoped that this is what happened on November 4, 2008, but as we’ve seen, the Corporatists are far from dead. I’ve been reading the business press these last few weeks, and the right wing garbage they continue to spew, in the age of Obama, is appalling. They’ve simply gone underground.

  5. We need Fundamental change in health care. Not some tweaking at the edges. I would rather have no change than some bastardized reform effort to say you’ve done something. That will only entrench the establishment even more, making change just that much harder to accomplish.

  6. And, once again, the Democratic Party will have failed us, and once again, special interests and not the people will set public policy.

    And once again, the failure of what we do get will be blamed on … liberalism.

  7. I want to rename it something other than “Citizen Party.” It excludes too many people.
    Any ideas? “Peoples Party” sounds too “red.”

  8. Bill H — providing lower-cost insurance to all people regardless of their preexisting conditions will be a huge help to a lot of people and would enable many people to get decent medical care who are not getting it now. It’s not good enough, no. Many will be left out.

    I see it as an incremental step, and though I’d much rather have single payer, if a health care “reform” bill is passed without even the public insurance option, you can kiss off any further reform in the future, or at least in our lifetime.

  9. This whole thing is no difference than the way the repugs acted on the stim. They have no intention of ever reforming health care, if they did they would lose an election talking point. I say screw them and forge ahead, the dems have the votes, screw the compromise.

  10. The public option is the point, everyone should have the right to vital health care and therefore it is an obligation upon the public to provide it. You cannot place such an obligation on an organization which exists to serve its own narrow interests and force for profits to operate at a loss if necessary. Government is not a business, and it can accept losses to provide for the general welfare.

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