Broad Nonpartisan Agreement — Against

NOW, Rep. Bart Stupak and the National Right to Life Committee are against the abortion “compromise” that helped put together an apparent 60-vote majority for the Senate health care bill.

The “compromise” allows states to block any insurance policy that offers abortion coverage to be offered on the insurance exchange in that state. Further, in all states if an individual receiving federal help to pay for insurance coverage chooses a policy that covers abortion, she’ll have to pay for the abortion coverage with a separate transaction. Brian Beutler explains,

Put another way: If you’re buying insurance with help from the government, and the policy you want to buy covers abortions, you have to write two checks (or authorize two credit card transactions, etc.) for your plan. If the plan costs $1000 a month, and the insurer plans to sequester $50 to put into a pool that covers abortions, you have to make one payment of $950 and a separate payment of $50.

One of the arguments made against Roe v. Wade over the years is that the decision to criminalize or legalize abortion should be made by states, not the federal government. Just let the states decide, they say, and we’ll abide by that. But does anyone honestly think the Fetus People would respect any state’s decision to legalize abortion?

Further, this morning the Right is still screaming that, somehow, the bill provides for “federal funding of abortion.” Exactly where they are seeing this federal funding is a mystery to me. It must be lurking behind the death panels.

As for the rest of the bill — Nate Silver thinks progressives really did have a positive impact on the bill, even though we may feel everything we wanted was traded away.

For instance: the CLASS Act has survived; the ban on lifetime coverage limits was restored; there was no tinkering with the Medicaid provisions; there’s some Ron Wyden like amendment to permit workers to opt out of their employer-provided coverage and purchase insurance on the exchanges instead; the abortion language in the Senate’s bill is milder than that which is already in the House’s (to an extent that may actually be a problem); a provision to allow people to purchase insurance through non-profit programs organized by the OPM was inserted, and some decent medical loss ratios were established. …

…From a policy standpoint, indeed, I think the kill-bill / public-option-or-bust strategy has helped to push the bill toward an optimal outcome. Certainly not optimal in the sense of “the best bill that the Senate could possibly have passed”, or “the best bill that progressives could have hoped for”. But in terms of the best bill that the Senate was actually going to pass, given the 60-vote requirement, an unpopular Congress, and an inexplicably lackluster performance from the White House, this is probably fairly close — especially if some further concessions can be realized in conference with respect to the magnitude of the subsidies.

Of course, the actual vote hasn’t been taken yet, and we still don’t now what will happen in reconciliation.

See also Eztra Klein, “The Congressional Budget Office scores the amended Senate bill“; Dan Wasserman, “Hey kids — What’s up with health reform?

19 thoughts on “Broad Nonpartisan Agreement — Against

  1. If the Islamic world was to demand that America renounce Christianity or they will execute 40,000 Americans every year until we do… we would not accept it.

    That’s the number, 40,000, of Americans who die each year for lack of access to health care for lack of insurance. And a group of terrorists – Christian Fundamementalist Terrorists – are holding them hostage if we don’t accept their ban on abortion – despite the fact that they represent a minority.

    Can we get the media to call this for what the hell it is – hostage taking with executions to advance a radical religious agenda.

  2. Pass the bill, aw ready.

    Would someone please explain why there is a wait until 2014 for some provisions to kick in?

  3. I adore it when my nation treats me like a chewed rawhide. It’s so patriotic and stuff to use women like animals.

    Can’t wait to see how many more times Dems use the “Hey we’ll glad let you treat women like animals for this!” strategy.

  4. I’m going OT – Barbara, you decide if it adds to the discussion or not.

    The GOP talking heads this morning were in full ‘kill-the bill” mode. Their strongest argument is that the polls show declining support for the bill. The significance of poll numbers is the 2010 elections. If legislators think the bill is actually unpopular, they may fear for their jobs in 2010.

    The poll numbers reflect weariness on the part of the public IMO – something the GOP bet on in a delaying strategy. The average voter has a limited attention span. Keeping up with components of various incarnations of the bills has been tiring for those of us who thrive on politics. Most Americans hate politics – after months, they just want the argument to go away. The poll numbers, IMO will change if the bill passes – to benefit Democrats. If the bill fails to pass – or fails to meet the major goals, the failure will strengthen conservatives in 2010.

    I’m a progressive – as unhappy as I am with a lot of this, I can best advance MY agenda by electing progressive Democrats. Electing more Republicans will NOT advance the cause of progressives.

    Dean and others of good conscience argue there is a 3rd option. Kill the Senate abomination and introduce a radically new bill through reconciliation. I want a more progressive bill but delay works for the GOP – the voters are already exhausted.

    The operation is NOT a success if the patient dies. That’s the risk of a do-over – and it’s a serious risk in the light of declining polls and the 2010 election.

  5. Reconciliation is the correct process, but that isn’t the same thing as conference. A conference bill can still be filibustered. Perhaps they can pass some portion of insurance reform under conference rules, but meaningful health care reform must be done as part of budget reconciliation if it is to happen at all.

  6. Doug – I think Dean’s argument, reasoned as it is by an MD, is “First, do no harm.” Chances are he’s been dealing with health insurance providers for years so in reading the bill he sees red flags popping up all over the place and throughout the bloody thing. I’m taking his word for it that the bill is loaded with advantages to the health care industry and disadvantages for the rest of us.

    Besides which, given that the industry has written a good part of the bill, it’s beyond stupid to suppose that they’ll write in anything that might eat into their profit margins.

  7. On the abortion ‘issue.’ For the life of me to deny coverage for a medical procedure, which is legal by the way, is completely unjustiable, unconstitutional (separate is not equal) and immoral because it obviously applies to only one category of citizens.

    It’s not unusual for proposed legislation to get struck down before it even gets into committee because a state Supreme Court or the fed SC will strike it down should it become law. Which is exactly what should be happening to this abortion fracas – dead before it’s alive.

  8. Can we get the media to call this for what the hell it is – hostage taking with executions to advance a radical religious agenda.

    Doug, I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but you’re right, that’s exactly what this is.

    Feeling very un-Christmasy at the moment. Grrr.

  9. Oh, those fetus people. Okay how about no more funding for abortions EVER again? Here we find the solution from one of the GOP’s shining stars of the past.

    The Washington Post | November 3, 1988 – Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle said today that many rape victims would not need to choose whether to have an abortion because they could undergo dilation and curettage, a medical procedure that scrapes the uterus. He said he believes that procedure is not the same as an abortion.

    “I understand that immediately after a rape that is reported, that a woman normally, in fact, can go to the hospital and have a D and C,” Quayle said. “At that time that is before the forming of a life. That is not anything to do with abortion.”

  10. Felicity – I like Howard Dean. I trust his medical judgement – I respect his progressive credentials. I’m also old enough to have seen his presidential bid implode because of his misjudgement. Yesterday I cited Paul Krugman who finds the bill to be on solid economic ground in terms of the deficit.

    I think 94% of Americans will be covered. I think insurance companies will be required to spend 85% of premiums in patient care. The details in the Senate bill are not critical because it will be reconciled with the House version – but ONLY if it’s passed by the Senate.

    My argument was & is that we can’t keep this bill alive on the table forever. The poll numbers say it’s dying. It WILL die if we don’t close and vote and get the signature of the POTUS. ‘Slow down and get it right’ has been the matra of the right. They know they can’t stop the bill with the votes they have. They will stop it we delay forever. It scares the pee outa me that progressives are leading the charge to oblivion.

  11. I am a conservative. I’m using a small “c” because it is the way I live. I don’t like to waste resources, money or anyone else’s time.
    In regards to the “40,000 people a year who die due to lack of medical insurance”, Consumer Reports that in the US over 90,000 people a year die from going to a hospital for something and catching a secondary infection in the hospital.
    If saving lives is the important thing here, why don’t we concentrate on that instead of putting a corrupt (both sides) and inefficient (Post Office, cash for clunkers, Katrina, etc) government in charge of 1/6th of the nation’s economy?

    As for abortions being paid by everyone, how many deaths then will we be responsible for? I don’t believe in capital punishment either. I think when we decide someone else no longer has the right to live (exception would be self defense) then we are changing the world view of the value of life. What follows IMHO is that people shoot other people for their cars or expensive tennis shoes. The rightful owner of the coveted item is inconvenient.

    We talk about saving trees or plants because they might contain the cure for cancer or other maladies. What if the aborted fetus was the scientist that was going to discover the cure?

    We are killing 800,000 possible scientists PER YEAR and that is a conservative estimate. Happily, those rates are down from the 1,400,000 in 1990. Even if you do feel that it’s a woman’s right to choose, aren’t you appalled at the wholesale slaughter of the innocent? These numbers dwarf the number dead from not having insurance.

    Lastly, my heart is really breaking about the poverty that we are spending our children and grandchildren into. Look at our nation’s debt. The figures on the interest payments are astonishing and that’s with today’s low, low rates. We are screwed.

    Look at your social security statement. Already they are telling us (husband is 55) that he will only get 70% of what is owed him. This is the problem with big government – they promise us all the “goodies” and things to make our lives better but they cannot possibly deliver and we all go backwards because of it.

    • Orcas Bird — The Senate health care reform bill does not, in fact, pay for abortions. I know the right-wing shills on Fox News and elsewhere say it does, but they lie. You would have known this had you read my post. People who comment on my posts without reading them waste my time.

      My argument against criminalizing abortion is here. Note that I say “against criminalizing abortion” and not “against abortion.” Abortion is a serious matter and not something to be taken lightly. However, the one fact that pro-criminalizers refuse to admit to is that making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortion.

      When abortion is made criminal, it just goes underground. And we know this because the rates of abortion in countries that have criminalized abortion often are higher than in those where it is legal. In fact, the lowest abortion rates on our planet are in Western and Northern Europe, where abortion is legal with few restrictions.

      The one factor that really does lower the rate of abortion is birth control. Again, you see this all over the globe. Countries in which birth control is easily accessible and widely used always have much lower rates of abortion than in places where birth control is discouraged and not used. Yet not a single so-called “right to life” organization supports birth control. Instead, they focus on criminalization. This makes no sense.

      As for funding abortions — if we agree that abortion is a legal medical procedure, I don’t think it’s up to the government to treat it differently from other legal medical procedures. And the practical fact is that when women have to scrape money together to pay for abortions, the abortions often will be performed later in the pregnancy than would have been otherwise. This is what you want?

      Regarding spending our children and grandchildren into poverty — we liberals said the same thing about the cost of the pointless Iraq War, which has already cost us more than the health care reform bill. The difference is that the money invested in revamping our health care system will save us all a great deal of money in the long run. Our current health care system is choking our economy to death and would cost your children and grandchildren far more down the road if left as it is.

      Regarding social security — who are “they” and why do you think you are only going to get 70% of what is owed? I think you are confused.

      I will address address some of the other misinformation in your comment at another time.

  12. OT
    December 21, 1620 – Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock – things just kind of went down hill from there.

  13. Holidays are here so not much time to chat. The “they” I am talking about is the Social Security Administration in their yearly statement of what they owe you when you retire.

    Yes, the war is a huge waste, I agree. But it will someday end, is not 1/6 of our nation’s economy. Once the health care legislation passes it will only become more and more domineering. Rarely is anything run by the government efficient and effective. You can include the military if you like. We all know the high levels of waste, lobbying, etc that go into anything related to a government program of any kind.

    Do the Senate and House bills address the issue of tort reform?

    And to Joan, since when do fiscal responsibility and a high regard for human life constitute impaired reality? I’m not really sure which of the multi-verses you might reside in.

    • Orcas — I don’t have time today to explain to you all the many ways you’ve been brainwashed. Here are some basic points:

      1. Without substantive health care reform involving government, health care spending is expected to reach 20 percent of GDP ten years from now. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce deficits over the next decade by $132 billion. The average cost of a family health insurance policy in 2009 is $13,375. Without the bill, if insurance costs continue to rise at the same rate they’ve risen in recent years, by 2019 the average cost of a family health insurance policy will be $30,803.

      So all of your whining about costs tells me you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

      2. I don’t have time to explain this, but “government can’t do anything right” propaganda is coming from big corporations who want everything privatized so they can price-gouge us by doing things government can do cheaper and often better. People like you who follow these knee-jerk talking points effectively have taken the government away from the people and handed it to corporations.

      There is no better proof that people have lost their minds than the witless teabaggers who of late went around screaming “keep government out of Medicare.” Likewise, Social Security has been a wildly popular program for more than 70 years, and by most accounts it is very efficiently run. I don’t know what your problems are, but there have been no recent changes in the program. I suspect you are misunderstanding something.

      3. “Tort reform” is a red herring. Most states already have passed tort reform laws, and while it tends to reduce physician malpractice insurance it does nothing to reduce the overall costs of health care. In Texas, which has reformed tort about as drastically as tort can be reformed, health care costs actually have been going up faster than in the rest of the nation.

      Regarding your comment about “high regard for human life constitute impaired reality” — I don’t see that your regard for human life is any higher than anyone else’s here. The difference is that some of us are forming our opinions based on facts and rational thought instead of emotions and propaganda.

      Now, please go away. I don’t have time for individual tutoring.

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