Such a Deal

Word is that Sen. Ben Nelson has agreed to vote for the current version of the Senate health care reform bill in exchange for a lot of money for Medicaid. The federal government will pay for new Medicaid recipients in Nebraska for ever and ever.

There is also a “compromise” on abortion that dumps the issue of funding elective abortions on the states. States can choose to prohibit abortion funding in the insurance exchanges in their states. Further, health plans that do pay for abortions must segregrate premiums from federal money somehow.

This is not good enough for John McCormack of the Weekly Standard, who complains that at least 13 states would continue to fund abortion, and we can’t have that. So much for states’ rights.

Senate Dems say they now have 60 votes, which means that a Republican filibuster cannot stop a vote on the bill, and maybe they’ll pass it. Of course, then they have to reconcile that bill with the House bill, and that’s going to take another war.

So what’s in the Senate bill? Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery write for the Washington Post:

Instead of a public option, the final product would allow private firms for the first time to offer national insurance policies to all Americans, outside the jurisdiction of state regulations. Those plans would be negotiated through the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that handles health coverage for federal workers and members of Congress.

I want that out of the final bill, for reasons I’ve explained several times in earlier posts.

Starting immediately, insurers would be prohibited from denying children coverage for pre-existing conditions. A complete ban on the practice would take effect in 2014, when the legislation seeks to create a network of state-based insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, where people who lack access to affordable coverage through an insurer can purchase policies.

Insurers competing in the exchanges would be required to justify rate increases, and those who jacked up prices unduly could be barred from the exchange. Reid’s package also would give patients the right to appeal to an independent board if an insurer denies a medical claim. And all insurance companies would be required to spend at least 80 cents of every dollar they collect in premiums on delivering care to their customers.

Every American would be required to obtain coverage under the proposal, and employers would be required to pay a fine if they failed to offer affordable coverage and their workers sought federal subsidies to purchase insurance in the exchanges. Reid’s package would offer additional assistance to the smallest businesses, however, increasing tax credits to purchase coverage by $12 billion over previous versions.

See also Steve Benen.

12 thoughts on “Such a Deal

  1. Oh yeah, than God we got Nelson on board, otherwise this bill would be a real mess and might not pass.
    Still, in the final analysis, let me see if I understand this: Instead of having a “lean” alternative like single-payer, MediCare for all, where we would actually save money, we have before us a pork hash full of fat for the insurance companies, states opting in or out of abortion, mandated insurance with what looks to me like NO cost control, and a fuster-cluck of add-ons thrown and squeezed-on in Jackson Pollock-like fashion – if O’l Jackson had drunk a quart of Tequila to wash down peyote, acid and meth while smoking a doobie as he raged against the machine, or something.
    Oh yeah, sounds good to me. Uh, Jackson, don’t “bogart” that joint, my friend… I need it more than ever. It’ll help my nausea as I “support” this bill.

  2. According to Dean, an average person over a certain age and with a pre-existing condition will in effect not be able to buy insurance because his premiums will be at least 3 times the cost to (a younger) person and therefore unaffordable.

    The bill (s) is chock full of these insidious provisions – sort of like disclaimers. Seldom seeing the light of day, they’re there and they’re far more powerful than anything the politicians or medea are talking about.

  3. erinyes,
    The Israeli health care system is too “New Testamentie” for the US. Help the poor, the old, blah, blah, blah… They probably even have Yenta coverage to help people get married. Socialist’s!
    We want us some “Old Testamentie” health care. You know, where abortions aren’t paid for, but the rocks for stoning the harlot’s are. And where said harlots are given no Blue Shield while being stoned, but are crucified upon a Blue Cross afterwards. That’s coverage!
    And we need some smiting in our health care somewhere. A whole lot of smiting! Smiting is good. I like smiting. I know! We could start with leper’s. That’s a disease! If you’re a leper, we, the healthy get to smite you. Nah, if smitten even one little smite, they’ll just fall apart. That takes all the fun out of it…
    I’m open to suggestions for “Old Testamentie” coverage idea’s. Anyone?

  4. Read Krugman – he has 2 entries today on the bill. The link is on the left. For the sake of the people for whom this bill is a matter of life and death – get a grip and think! The time to decide if this bill is better than nothing is AFTER reconciliation with the House version.

  5. Maha, I recall posts on opposing the R “sell across state lines” position (aka, “race to the bottom”). As I understand it, the plans that can be sold across state lines in this bill are federally regulated.

  6. I don,t know what to think. Some of these senators are coming up with some absurd agreements to get passage on a health bill. It just dosen,t seem right.It seems that by the time we get some senators to sign passage, we wont have anything left , and the most absurd thing happening is they seem to be getting exactly what they want I say to hell with that shit. What about us the people, to hell with them this is suppose to be for us the people. Why are the senators getting what they want and we are getting a shit sandwich?I want single payer and im willing to pay, but as long as we have mandates i wont pay shit .

  7. It sure would be nice if every taxpayer could “line-item veto” paying for stuff we oppose morally. Not a dime of my money would’ve gone to invade Iraq; not one penny now for Blackwater/Xe or Halliburton and its subsidiaries, or for Secret Service protection for G.W. Bush or Cheney.

    I don’t get that option, but the Fetus People do. They’d say it’s because God likes them best.

  8. I think having a national insurance scheme is way better than the state by state ones. For several reasons–its true that at the national level with banking some things get scammed, but at the same time the voter knows exactly where to go to complain. And complaining about an insurance policy you’ve bought, and its details, is almost definitionally the act of a potential voter. Governments hate, hate, hate to piss off an entire class of voters. Usually the poor are not considered voters–they aren’t locked in to the national state in any way and their concerns are easily brushed off. But selling everyone health insurance and forcing them to interact with the government is one of the quickest ways to create an organized poor class of all time. I should think that the backlash from underserving 30 million potential voters is huge. This is really what is meant when we talk about how Republicans fear “entitlement” plans–they really do. Not just because entitlement plans (social security, medicare) enable people to live fear free lives but because any government program that links people together has the potential to create a massive voter base of people trying to protect, or change, their entitlement/situation.

    So, in the end, I’m all for the national version–and all that it takes is a few years of BCBS refusing to make their rates low enough and the backlash in every congressional and senatorial district will be huge–not a backlash against coverage but against private coverage. the next thing you know will be a real push for a cheaper public option.


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