Health Insurance Reform: Senate Bill (with House Fixes) Passes; Now for the Hard Work–Ensuring the Promises Become Real

In the debate for health care insurance reform, I am disappointed with how far from the idea of single payer that the present law is (H.R. 3590, H.R. 4872). I watch cautiously to see how the real world interprets and executes this law. When former Washington D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams closed D.C. General Hospital, he offered magnificent plans. Needless to say, not a shovel of dirt has been moved to this day to implement those plans.

The  issues of concern is the individual mandate and the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans.

The provision for the individual mandate to purchase a private industry product is understandable theoretically, but I am wary for placing that much trust on a monopolistic health insurance industry. One thing of which I am certain–the highly paid executives of those companies will not reduce their salaries or their bloated bureaucracies.

Hopefully, the health care law can address this somehow. There will be a test with the next premium increase, Wellpoint’s increase received a tongue lashing from President Barack Obama and the Secretary of Health and Human Services; however, the premium increase remains in effect. I truly hope this does not foretell reactions in the future.

The excise tax is another provision that must be watched. Will premiums be raised to such an extent that by the time the tax comes into effect that even more purchasing power is removed from wage earners who barely scrape by with a skyrocketing cost-of-living?

It is a shame that certain beneficial provisions of the law is clouded by these not-so-beneficial provisions, but that is how the politicians crafted the bill.


Health Care “Reform”: The Process is an Abject Failure; Senate Bill (H.R. 3590), Supported by President Obama, is the Worst of the Bills under Consideration

Now it seems that the consensus political opinion is to pass the failed Senate bill, H.R. 3590, at any cost lest the voters think that the majority power Democratic party is unable to govern. H.R. 3590 is simply not the vehicle of true reform: The mandate to buy a private industry product (H.R. 3590’s use of the commerce clause seems questionable (opposing view)) and the excise tax on employer-provided health insurance should doom the bill to failure.

President Barack Obama issued his proposal, but the President is no longer a Senator so he cannot propose legislation. Also, his proposal is not in the form of a bill and is too late since the House already passed H.R. 3962, and the Senate passed H.R. 3590. It may be an elaborate cover to allow the House just to pass H.R. 3590 without any changes. Given the agreement of the President with the industry, I am sure he wants all of H.R. 3590, regardless of his speeches to the contrary.

The House is facing renewed pressure to pass the offensive striker amendment composed H.R. 3950. Should the House pass the Senate bill, the House can rest assured that the bill will not be altered (so-called sidecar reconciliation) and go straight to the President to sign.

The whole process has been disappointing, and those politicians who vote for this false “reform” bill deserve to suffer political defeat.

Post script:

Presidential summit on health care

Health Care “Reform”: President Barack Obama Planning Summit; Discussion Seems to be Geared to Pass Senate Bill

[Update 2/22/10: President Barack Obama posted his proposal for health care “reform.” Unsurprisingly, the President’s proposal is similar to the Senate bill–with the unacceptable in any form excise tax and the mandate to by a private industry product-health insurance policy.]

According to Talking Points Memo, President Barack Obama is planning a summit, which would consider these issues (emphasis (in bold) mine)–

The President will then open and moderate discussion on four critical topics: insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage, and the impact health reform legislation will have on deficit reduction.

The bolded portion of the agenda I think is a discussion of the so-called cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans (in H.R. 3590). Despite the President’s State of the Union address, he seems obstinate in his support of this middle-class unfriendly tax, supposedly to bring down the deficit.

I have covered this issue in depth previously on this blog and my opinion remains–the cadillac tax is the worst idea in the bill, followed closely by the mandate to buy a private industry product-health insurance. This legislation proves the adage that the devil is in the details. No one should take any politician’s words at face value. One has to read the bill to verify every statement uttered about the legislation.

I am hoping that these politicians do not rush through this bill at the wee hours in the morning without giving the public time to get the legislation and review it.

Health Care “Reform”: President Barack Obama Blames Republicans of Potentially Acting Like Democrats

The President essentially blames Republicans of being supplicants of corporations, when he and his Administration are doing the same thing now.

Consider these quotes (emphasis (in bold) mine).

Excerpt from the remarks of President Barack Obama at the house Democratic Caucus Retreat, January 14, 2010:

So, I know everybody in the media is all in a tizzy — “Oh, what’s this going to mean politically?”  Well, let me tell you something.  If Republicans want to campaign against what we’ve done by standing up for the status quo and for insurance companies over American families and businesses, that is a fight I want to have. (Applause.)  If their best idea is to return to the bad policies and the bad ideas of yesterday, they are going to lose that argument.  What are they going to say?  “Well, you know, the old system really worked well; let’s go back to the way it was”?  That’s not going to appeal to seniors who are now seeing the possibility of that doughnut hole finally closing and so they can finally get discounts on their prescriptions.  (Applause.)  That’s not going to appeal to the small businesses who find out all the tax credits that they’re going to get for doing right by their employees — something that they have been wanting to do, but may not have been able to afford.  It’s not going to be very appealing to Americans who for the first time are going to find out that they can provide coverage to their children, their dependents, all the way up to the age of 26 or 27.

Really, the corporatist (“centrist”) Democrats are doing the same thing that the President blames the Republicans of  planning to do in campaigns.

Excerpt of interview with journalists, Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner, on the Bill Moyers’ Journal:

ROBERT KUTTNER: Rahm Emanuel, the President’s Chief of Staff, was Bill Clinton’s Political Director. And Rahm Emanuel’s take away from Bill Clinton’s failure to get health insurance passed was ‘don’t get on the wrong side of the insurance companies.’ So their strategy was cut a deal with the insurance companies, the drug industry going in. And the deal was, we’re not going to attack your customer base, we’re going to subsidize a new customer base. And that script was pre-cooked so it’s not surprising that this is what comes out the other side.

BILL MOYERS: So are you saying that this, what some call a sweetheart deal between the pharmaceutical industry and the White House, done many months ago before this fight really began, was because the drug company money in the Democratic Party?

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, it’s two things. Part of it was we need to do whatever it takes to get a bill. Never mind whether it’s a really good bill, let’s get a bill passed so we can claim that we solved health insurance. Secondly, let’s get the drug industry and the insurance industry either supporting us or not actively opposing us. So that there was some skirmishing around the details, but the deal going in was that the administration, drug companies, insurance companies are on the same team. Now, that’s one way to get legislation, it’s not a way to transform the health system. Once the White House made this deal with the insurance companies, the public option was never going to be anything more than a fig leaf. And over the summer and the fall, it got whittled down, whittled down, whittled down to almost nothing and now it’s really nothing.

Full video of interview is on the PBS website.

Health Care “Reform”: In Haste, Senate Transferred Problems to House; Subsequent Negotiations in House Inadequate

The ongoing negotiations in the House of Representatives this week exemplified the trouble that the Senate bill has caused for Representatives. That an election in Massachusetts could cause the whole bill to collapse shows that the entire process was flawed. The citizenry of the United States have been let down by most of its elected representatives (including the President and his Administration) with this horrible health care “reform” bill because single payer was simply shut out of the discussion.

The Senate, in its deliberations of H.R. 3590 (using a strike all motion), did not even consider the House-passed bill, H.R. 3962. The Senate passed a completely separate version of the health care “reform” bill from the House-passed bill. The problems noted in the bill–the mandate to buy private health insurance, the so-called cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans, and other problematic provisions–should have been handled in the Senate. But the Senate was in such a rush to pass the bill, the full weight of the problems and a concurrent demand for the House to simply approve of it fell upon the House.

They citizenry of the United States have not been well served with this health care legislation. I have little confidence in the negotiations on the cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans. Using health care “reform” as a vehicle to raise taxes on the working class to reduce the deficit is unseemly. Certain corporations were reviled for using high deductible health insurance plans for its employees. It seems that an untested (in the real world) academic theory is being used to make this nefarious practice the norm rather than the exception.

Health Care “Reform”: On the Unacceptable So-Called Cadillac Tax (a Tax on High-Cost Health Insurance); Democratic Party Divided

Some in the House of Representatives appear to be uncomfortable with the so-called cadillac tax. Simultaneously, President Barack Obama supports the unwise excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans.

The entire affair is dispiriting because what the health care  reform that the public sought from an Obama Administration has instead become an issue that will cause intraparty antagonism and disappointment because the bill on the front burner does not begin to address the problems.

Instead, Obama Administration and many people in the Congress support a tax that will fall upon those who can least afford it without the benefit of the single payer plan.

The flaws of the Senate bill (H.R. 3590) must be fixed before passage. I do not care about the fragility of the 60 votes. That should not be an impediment against improving the bill.

Health Care “Reform”: Congress May Not Go Into Conference After All; Senate Bill Appears to Be Sandy Foundation

It seems that the Congress may not be going into conference with the disastrous health care bill.

I get the feeling that the theater going on in the Hill, with the dramatic handwringing and rending of garments was planned to cover the “real” bill that was being proposed.

Its even probable that opponents to the bill might launch lawsuits. It is a result well deserved for forcing through this bill.

I am waiting to see how President Barack Obama signs this bill [when it passes] (whether in a public ceremony or overnight without fanfare). Given that his theater has worked, I expect much (undeserved) fanfare. This proposal has caused such dismay within the Democratic party, the apparent “victory” of its becoming law will be hollow (especially with the horrible mandate to buy private insurance and the so-called Cadillac tax).