Public Option: Under the Bus?

A number of news items came out over the weekend saying the public option was being excised from health care reform. This morning the White House is scrambling to reassure people this is not so.

However, the overall message is that while the Obama Administration wants the public option, the President would sign whatever Congress can pass, including a bill that does not include the public option. And there appears to be a strong movement within the Senate to kill the public option. Jacob Hacker explains why that would be more than a damn shame.

The New York Times‘s new pet conservative, Ross Douthat, seems to have noticed one of the massive inconsistencies in the fight from the Right against health care reform: By stoking the fear of senior citizens that their Medicare benefits will be cut, the GOP has placed itself in the role of defender of an entitlement.

Medicare’s price tag, if trends continue, will make a mockery of the idea of limited government. For conservatives, no fiscal cause is more important than curbing this exponential growth. And by fighting health care reform with tactics ripped from Democratic playbooks, and enlisting anxious seniors as foot soldiers, conservatives are setting themselves up to win the battle and lose the longer war.

The fact is, it’s the Right that wants to cut Grandma’s Medicare benefits, not the Left.

We’re already practically a gerontocracy: Americans over 50 cast over 40 percent of the votes in the 2008 elections, and half the votes in the ’06 midterms. As the population ages — by 2030, there will be more Americans over 65 than under 18 — the power of the elderly and nearly elderly may become almost absolute.

In this future, somebody will need to stand for the principle that Medicare can’t pay every bill and bless every procedure. Somebody will need to defend the younger generation’s promise (and its pocketbooks). Somebody will need to say “no” to retirees.

And I have no doubt the Right will do just that, as soon as they defeat health care reform.

It also needs to be said that while Medicare costs are rising, they are not rising nearly as fast as costs in the private health care sector. Inefficiency and excessive costs are only bad when they are found in government. If the private sector is bleeding you dry, you’re supposed to be thankful for capitalism.

Update: Nate Silver counts the Senate votes.

25 thoughts on “Public Option: Under the Bus?

  1. health care is being rationed right now, even to those who have insurance. they just do not know it. those with high priced policies (the rich 1%) get better care. if you work for u.p.s. (my son does) you get better care (due to union). some doctors will look at a 78 year old with a bad heart, who needs hip replacement badly. one doctor will treat medically and another will do surgery(why because he can) doctors in this country have lost sight of what their purpose is and it is because insurance companies only see the bottom. these insurance companies need to be held accountable. if a patient is forced to go home too soon and ends up back in the hospital in a week in worse condition, then the insurance company should be held responsible with severe penalties. it is a mess and i think it is just a symptom of what this country(capitalism) has done. it is the bottom line and all of us can just go and you know what. except of course the top 10%!!!!!!!!

  2. If our esteemed legislators drop the public option then what use are they to us? We would be better off paying them to not return after the August break. You can bet that anything they come up with from this point on will be solely for the benefit of their corporate owners.

  3. If we have the power, than let’s use it. Remember what Howard Dean said, “Those who don’t vote for a public options will have to face primaries.”

  4. Also, aren’t these the same conservatives who thought we could fight all kinds of illegal and immoral wars forever?

  5. Didn’t anyone hear that dick, Kent Conrad of North Dakota say on Fox yesterday that the public option was dead in the Senate? Period. Full stop.

    Its over, folks. Corporate America has fucked us again. Frankly, if Americans are this fucking stupid, where they rally to get worse health care and support a broken system where billionaire CEOs profit from their medical insurance premiums, they deserve to get bent over and reamed repeatedly!

  6. Without a public option we remain victims of price gouging – forced to pay high (gouging) prices for a necessary commodity (or service) when no alternative is available. Our ‘alternative’ at present is having no health insurance – hardly an alternative.

  7. Didn’t anyone hear that dick, Kent Conrad of North Dakota say on Fox yesterday that the public option was dead in the Senate? Period. Full stop.

    Yes, we all heard that, I’m sure. Kent Conrad is not the entire Senate. However, it’s not looking good.

  8. If you didn’t see that one coming (getting rid of the public option), you had to be blind.
    Instead of starting off the negotiations with single-payer and compromising to a public option (which you could later tweak over the years into a single-payer system), these twit’s took it off the table before they walked in the door. Now, they have to negotiate away the public option. “Why?” “I don’t know!” “Third base…”
    I swear, any illiterate street vendor in a 3rd world country would laugh at how the Dem’s negotiated this. Senator Graham at least got a deal on those rugs in Baghdad. Any Democrat would pay full-price.
    Let’s face some facts, the whole public option was never really on the table from the Corporatist’s in Congress. And that’s almost every single member of both houses.
    It’s no longer a bicameral system. It’s a BUYcameral one.

  9. Did anyone hear that as the proposed bill now stands, without a public option we will be paying the private health insurance consortium $60 billion/year apparently for all the money they will be out by having to actually pay something out on policies? I thought Dean said something like that this morn.

  10. Right. No single-payer, no public-option, a few regulatory tweaks in return for an individual mandate? Not acceptable, not supportable, not credible. This is worse than nothing.

  11. tactics ripped from Democratic playbooks

    Oh, Ross, I seriously “Douthat.” Unless you’re referring to the tactic called “fold like a cheap card table.”

  12. The republicans are doing exactly what they need to do for political survival. They cannot let Obama succeed, they are so ideological bankrupt, they know even small successes by a “liberal” president with a “liberal” congress cannot be tolerated, it will relinquish them to the scrapheap of political ideals for many more years perhaps to total extinction (wouldn’t that be nice). I think they are fighting for their own survival more than they are for the massive big healthcare profits (although they are fighting for them as well).

    They have succeeded in scaring the shit out of the old folks, and that is the key to there success. It’s a cultural thing the old farts don’t trust progressive ideas, they think the young whippersnappers are out to get them. Its the liberals own fault, had we not created Medicare most folks would be dying at the age of 60 or so and the republicans would have no voter base, maybe we should consider a voting age requirement?

  13. uncledad – On the way to the bank this morn, I passed a table on the sidewalk which had blazoned across its front that now familiar poster of Obama made up to look like Hitler. The sign under it read, “Impeach Him.” There was a line-up at the table of people who wanted to sign what I surmise was a petition.

    You’re right, the right wing is definitely fighting for its survival and reforming health care in this country is merely the scrificial lamb that they hope will make it happen. One has to hope that the health care reform obstructionists find themselves without health insurance – the sooner the better.

  14. We beat the Republicans last fall. Why must we now cater to them? Where is the mighty Rahm? Surely some hardball could be played with some of these blue sons of whatever? As far as Conrad goes, I heard his explanation on NPR news this afternoon. If the co-ops are such a good, thrifty alternative, why were they not put up first? I think we all know the answer. And Yahoo News on my home page just featured an article about great price increases for health insurance stocks based on the news that public option was off the table. Somehow, I think they may know something Regular Joe doesn’t. Isn’t that how Wall Street works?

  15. It is morally repugnant to profit off the misery or ill health of Americans. It’s criminal that medical bills to the private for-profit MEDICAL/INSURANCE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX make up 62% of all bankruptcies filed in the U.S. each year. Americans spend 3 Trillion Dollars a year on Health care. The overhead at the private for-profit MEDICAL/INSURANCE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX is upwards of 35% of the health care dollar spent each year in the U.S. That is approximately $900 Billion a year the MEDICAL/INSURANCE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX uses for BRIBING CONGRESS and their lavish lifestyles, huge salaries plus perks and bonuses. All the while milking the hard-working men/women of this great nation of their hard earned money.
    On the other hand Medicare has an overhead of 2%, Canada’s system is 1.5%, Europe’s 2.5% on average. The money that could be saved by eliminating the private for-profit MEDICAL/INSURANCE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX is estimated at $900 Billion a year. Enough money to help pay for putting all Americans on MEDICARE/SINGLE-PAYER TYPE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

    It’s criminal that the U.S. doesn’t have Single-Payer Health Care. Here are the criminals:
    mcconnell $3.3M, hatch $2.9M, baucus $2.8M, grassley $2.7M,
    lieberman $2.6M, burr $2.4M, ensign $2.4M, cornyn $2.2M, kyl $2.1M,
    conrad $2.1M, cantor $1.8M boehner $1.7M, coburn $1.2M were
    paid by the Medical Industrial Complex to kill Health Care Reform.
    (Source: OpenSecrets.Org)

    People who listen to politicians with gov’t. run health care tell them how bad gov’t run health care is and they believe them. Wow, gullible is not strong enough word. How many people want to give up grandma’s MEDICARE? How about the VA? Another gov’t. run health care system. We must not let the public option be defeated by criminals that have their own best interest at heart not their constituents.

  16. They say Obama needs a political victory with health care reform..Well, his pending health care victory is starting to shape up in a manner similar to George Bush’s esoteric Iraqi victory..It’s just not apparent to some of us.

  17. Wow felicity: “Impeach Him.” There was a line-up at the table of people who wanted to sign what I surmise was a petition.

    What town do you live in? Sounds like a really fun place!

  18. Rationing, that is exactly what we need in this country. Medicare is broke because all these old folks go to the doctor as part of their social calendar (not all of course but my mom is 73 and she claims most of her friends do). I’ve spent a good amount of time at doctors office’s recently getting past a cancer and they are filled with folks so old they can hardly walk. We have doctors replacing hips, performing bypass, and who knows what on people in their 80’s and 90’s. I mean come on, I remember 10 years back or so my grandmother was dying of old age (remember when people died from old age) she was 88 years old and the doctors said her heart was failing and that she could benefit from a stint at the very least. My grandma said “fuck you” I’m too god dam old.

    I recently had x-rays because of hip pain, doc says I need both hips replaced, I’m only 48, gee fun I can’t wait. My insurance company has told the ortho-surgeon that I cannot have surgery until I have been cancer free for at least 24 months (14 months to go). Is that rationing? Maybe but it makes sense to me, what point is there in spending a 100 grand or so on hip surgery if my cancer comes back. Rationing is exactly what we need to control costs, it just has to make sense, and people in this country will never accept the goverment being the rationer, not now anyway.

  19. I still have not heard addressed is why my health isurance goes up 15 to 19 % every year. I’ve been tracking it for years now and it goes up more than tuition. why does the health sector experience inflation out the wazoo that no other sector does? If this question is truly answered , then what to do about it becomes clear. Obama never really addresses this in the forums- When citizens are inter viewed they obviously do not understand where the $ is going and how they are being stiffed coming and going so to speak. The reason people are not up in arms demanding reform is they do not understand the shell game that is inurance, public funding support for medical institutions and medicaid /medicare backing up the fallout.

  20. uncledad – Manhattan Beach, CA. By the way, as I passed the ‘table’ I shot a thumbs-down (would have shot a finger but didn’t want to stoop to their level) at the crowd. (Also by the way, Harman is our Rep in Congress.)

    As to geriatrics making going to the doctor a way of life, I’m with your grandma. I’m 77 and haven’t been to a doctor for about 20 years, nor do I take any drugs (the drug may alleviate a symptom but probably not before one of its ‘disclaimers’ kills you.) According to a Blue Cross rep, my medical profile is the profile of the majority of oldies my age so your mom’s crowd is probably not the norm.

  21. uncledad – forgot to mention that 30,000 medicare patients die every year in this country from OVERTREATMENT. Pearlstein’s article would not contradict that statistic.

  22. Why can’t just those why pay taxes get health benefits…how b’out that Obama and the rest of the health care reform starters??? NO seriously, this I could be in favor of, but not just letting any old person that comes to America, even the illegal’s to get healthcare and our taxes go up the roof???? No, sure, I will cont. to fight this…

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