Thursday, October 29, 2009

When Insurance Companies Compete...You Win

If you ever need ammunition to use against those who accuse corporate media of

being too liberal, the healthcare debate should provide enough to supply an army. Since

the town yells of the summer, media "headlines" have been asking the American public

"Is healthcare reform dead...on it's last legs...dying...dead on arrival...on life support?"

I lost count of how many news readers, re-anchors or pundits, declared healthcare reform

on it's last legs and pronounced a public option as dead and buried.

The Wall Street Journal, no bastion of progressive thought, declares the public

option is off life support and making a recovery in the Senate. (It is expected the House

version will contain a public option.) The Journal further reports that several versions of

a public plan are being discussed and prospects are hopeful that some blended version will

make it into the final Senate bill. The debate over a public option, and the healthcare bill

in general, is gaining so much momentum the Journal says Democrats "...feel a breeze at

their backs".

The "breeze" the Democrats feel is, in part, from a report the Congressional Budget

Office has issued which claims a Democratic healthcare bill (which contains a public option)

would reduce the deficit. This is the same CBO which scored the Senate finance bill and

concluded it would cost under $900 billion over ten years. This is crucial because the

President said he won't sign a bill which adds to the deficit or one that costs over $1 trillion

in ten years. It is even more important because one of the central factors in the nation's

rising budget deficit is the rapid increase in healthcare costs. Thus, the Democratic plan

would cover about 95% of Americans, eliminate prohibitions against pre-existing conditions,

create portable insurance not based on your job, drive premium prices down through the

good old capitalistic notion of competition, and reduce the deficit. So, here we stand,

facing the real chance that Washington might actually vote a change in which everyone,

except the insurance companies, wins. Who'da thunk it?

I know, I know, I'm counting my chickens before they hatch; but it is a reaction

to months and months of "liberal" news coverage in which we were told this couldn't happen.

We were told the American people were outraged and simply wouldn't stand for it. This was

despite every poll showing the American people support a public option and other provisions

by an overwhelming majority. We were fed stories about a new grassroots movement of

tea bag parties that was sure to derail healthcare, crush Obama, and guaranteed a Republican

resurgence in 2010. The "news reports" and the reality don't jive.

How do you explain corporate media declaring healthcare reform dead on arrival

and the conclusion by the Wall Street Journal that there is a good chance healthcare reform

will pass; reform which includes a public option! Remember how we were told Obama blew

it? He had been too hands off. He should have been more involved in setting the agenda.

He was too weak and not assertive enough. We were told each time a deadline was missed,

this meant the reform effort was over. We were told the town yells scared Congress and

members were afraid to vote for any change in healthcare rules. Hanbaugh, Beck, Faux News,

and the Regressive echo machine were given credit for stopping "Obamacare" in it's tracks.

Now, not only won't Rush get a football team to own, he will watch President Obama

sign the most important legislation since Social Security and Medicare even as the economy

rebounds from eight years of fiscal irresponsibility by his good friend George Bush.

The most interesting public option being considered is a proposal to create a

national health plan which allows individual states to opt in or opt out. Supporters envision

states like California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania opting in and states like Texas,

Mississippi, and Georgia opting out (blue states in and red states out). With the most

populated states "in" we will be able to have a real test to see if the public option works.

When it does, the people in red states will be seeking to join no matter what political party

is in control. Once again, good old American competition will settle the question. It's


It should be noted, Regressives are now attacking the Congressional Budget Office

numbers. These are the same folks who were thrilled with the CBO during the summer

when it's initial report concluded healthcare reform would cost $1 trillion over ten years

and not reduce the deficit. Republican leaders trumpeted the numbers and cited them as

proof the Democrats were trying to bankrupt the nation. Now, when the numbers don't

go their way, the CBO can't be trusted (CNN's Lou Dobbs declared CBO numbers are not

worth a damn). It's also worth noting the Democrats appear quite willing to go it alone

without a single Republican vote. What will be the reaction of voters in 2010 to a party

which tried to derail healthcare reform while offering no alternative of their own?

The war is not over yet. The fight is in the Democratic party. We have to let

the Democrats know they will pay a price if they don't push for reform; and to do this they

will have to face down a Republican filibuster. They must get an up or down vote. If the

Democrats succeed, I am convinced more than one Republican will vote yes rather than

incur the wrath of voters in 2010.

If you have written, write again. If you have called or e-mailed, do it again. Contact

your local Congressional offices. Keep the pressure on. Friends, healthcare reform is not

an option. Change is so, so long overdue. We've given Obama and his Democrats the

opportunity to hear our cries, and they've responded with a plan. Imagine a day when

a child born in this country never has to fear losing health coverage or being economically

crushed because he or she got sick or lost their job. We elected Obama to create change.

This would not be a bad start. Let's see this thing through! What do you think? I welcome

your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to

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