Another Fissure on the Left Flank for Health Care Bill

In what is becoming a typical pattern for the Obama administration, right wing opponents of some of his initiatives (like reappointing Bernanke) are finding common cause with progressives, an alliance that seemed unthinkable a mere year ago.

While the left is generally behind the health care reform bill, support is far from universal. And a key group is about to throw a spanner in the works. Unions are not happy about the bill. From the New York Times:

….. labor leaders are fuming that President Obama has endorsed a tax on high-priced, employer-sponsored health insurance policies as a way to help cover the cost of health care reform. And as Senate and House leaders seek to negotiate a final health care bill, unions are pushing mightily to have that tax dropped from the legislation. Or at the very least, they want the price threshold raised so that the tax would affect fewer workers.

Labor leaders say the tax would hit not only wealthy executives with expensive health benefits, but also many rank-and-file union members who have often settled for lower wage increases in exchange for more generous health benefits.

The tax would affect individual insurance policies with annual premiums above $8,500 and family policies above $23,000, which by one union survey would affect one in four union members.

The House bill does not contain such an excise tax, and many House Democrats oppose adding it to the combined House-Senate legislation.

Yves here. My understanding of the politics is that the final bill is going to pretty much have to resemble the Senate bill, but the unhappiness of the House rank and file, in combination with union opposition, would change the calculus. Back to the article:

With labor groups warning that the tax will infuriate a key part of the Democratic base — union members — President Obama has agreed to meet with several top labor leaders on Monday to address their concerns and try to defuse their anger…

But whether the tax is negotiable remains unclear…Many Democrats and union officials fear that if both sides dig in on the issue, it could create a rift between the White House and labor — with some union leaders hinting they might lobby aggressively against the entire health care bill if it contains such a tax.

Union leaders have repeatedly warned the White House about the strong rank-and-file dismay, which could hurt the Democrats in Congressional elections this fall, especially in battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin….

In recent days, labor’s strategy has become clear. Unions are urging their members to flood their representatives with e-mail messages and phone calls in the hope that the House will stand fast and reject the tax…Many Democrats fear that enacting the tax will hurt their re-election chances.

Yves here. And the proposed compromise, of raising the ceiling, may be deemed to be too costly, since it would cut the tax receipts by more than one third. And note that even though the tax falls on employers, the unions expect it to be passed through to employees via plan selection:

…. union officials say the tax will cause employers to push higher co-payments and deductibles onto their employees.

Yves here. It has hit the point that some people are admitting that the legislation is seriously flawed, but contend it can still get the ball rolling in the right direction. As one correspondent wrote:

Look the bill is awful. We all agree.

But the idea that it would start political battles to get better is not dotty. The history of entitlements after Social Security, which kept generating whole new programs and vast new support even in the forties gives some promise.

Yves here. The problem is that this is not the 1940s and 1950s, a time of rising prosperity and much greater social cohesion than now. And the awfulness of the bill matters.

Contrary to what some would like to believe, it does not establish a right to health care. It establishes a duty to buy health insurance. Those are not at all the same. There is no assurance in this bill that insurers will not deny coverage or delay payments as they do now, and no provisions to deal with the strain on the system (likely de facto rationing) when millions of now-uninsured can afford at least some level insurance. The health care version of the now-standard Obama bait and switch tactic could lead not just to curtailment of the new plan, but could easily become the poster child for an even bigger push to cut other entitlement programs, even ones that are functioning well.

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  1. Mogden

    Obama really dropped the ball on this by letting our ghastly Congress come up with yet another two thousand page monstrosity that mixes a few useful and productive ideas with several tons of pork, rot, and bribes.

    If he had pushed for a lean bill that advanced a few popular ideas, like banning discrimination for pre-existing conditions, we’d be much better off right now.

    1. alex black

      I’m curious to hear responses as to how any insurance company can survive if it’s required to accept customers who have pre-existing conditions?

      I pay $7,000 a year for health insurance at the moment. If there are no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, I’ll simply cancel it, pay my $725 yearly government fine for having no insurance, and only buy insurance again immediately when my doctor tells me I need $50,000 of treatment right now. So will everyone else who has any sense. How can this possibly work?

      It sounds like requiring Allstate to sell fire insurance to anyone whose house just burnt down yesterday, and fully reimburse the cost of rebuilding. It would be lovely, but it sounds like a totally unsustainable business model.

      What am I missing?

      1. scraping_by

        You’re missing that this bill comes with its own loophole built right in.

        The real provision in the bill is that patients can’t be denied for preexisting conditions except in cases of fraud. Now, legal precedent already has it in that not disclosing a prexisting condition is fraud. That’s even if you didn’t know you had it, even if it isn’t part of why you needed the medical care, even if you acted under best knowledge. So, putting the disclosure test impossibly high, the way they already have it, leaves the insurance companies a quick out.

        The biggest talking point for this bill is also the most hollow.

        1. Jeff65

          I don’t see how this potential loophole applies if you declare the pre-existing condition when you apply for insurance after you discover your illness. No fraud has occurred at any time.

      2. Mogden

        Well, there are plenty of possible workarounds for that. For example, if you let your insurance lapse, a cap on payouts for the next several years comes into play.

        I would be shocked if we could not come up with a markedly better system using rules that fit on one page.

    2. bob goodwin

      Although the republicans have surely gleefully let the democrats shoot themselves in the foot, a bipartisan bill would have been possible if the goals had been fixing healthcare rather than making it an entitlement. The left chose to step on two landmines that have nearly religious following: public option as socialism and abortion as social engineering. But the biggest blunder was to underestimate the anger from the recession and the bailouts. The process is always cynical, however in this context it looked demented.

      I think the bill will pass, and that is least bad outcome for the democrats. But it is not good for our democracy.

  2. attempter

    Yves’ final paragraph sums up the matter well, and gives the correct prognosis. This bill will not control costs and is not intended to. Nor will any of the fraudulent “regulations” in it be enforced, as anyone knows who’s been paying attention to the state of regulatory affairs for the last 30 years.

    It’s a corporate racketeering stick-up plain and simple. That’s all it was ever intended to be.

    Many Democrats and union officials fear that if both sides dig in on the issue, it could create a rift between the White House and labor — with some union leaders hinting they might lobby aggressively against the entire health care bill if it contains such a tax.

    Any union official who doesn’t get by now that the administration is hostile to labor, and who therefore still worries about “creating a rift”, is an idiot or corrupt.

    The rift is already there. The administration created it unilaterally. (That is, it has simply sought to expand on the existing Bush rift.)

    The health racket bill is the basic litmus test for where people stand regarding corporate tyranny in itself.

    Even if the bill would actually do the pathetic things its pathetic supporters claim it will do, that wouldn’t be remotely sufficient compensation for further entrenching our serfdom.

    And of course it will not do those things anyway. Those who would trade security, self-respect, freedom, for a few stale crumbs, will get nothing, and deserve nothing.

    Deep down the liberal opportunists like Krugman and all the other hacks shilling for this thing know all this. That’s why they keep schizophrenically lurching back and forth in tone between admitting that the bill is (by their standards) just minimally adequate, and then trumpeting how it’s a world-historical “progressive achievement”.

    (Has anyone been following Krugman’s blog posts on the topic? He needs to get back on his meds.)

    Yesterday Krugman was there again saying “get over it, single payer was never going to happen”. It’s one of the great self-fulfilling prophecies in American political history. Ben Nelson said at one point “I can’t vote for it because no one wants to vote for it.”

    If everyone like Krugman who claims to have wanted single payer in principle but who cravenly refused to demand it because “no one else would demand it” would simply have demanded it, would have been not only possible but easy.

    The fact is 90% of them never wanted it. Most liberals are varying kinds of sell-outs. They always have been and always will be. They’re courtiers and hacks who want to serve their corporate masters. That’s all we saw from day one on the great health reform scam.

    Then we have the standard fraud of citing Social Security as a precedent, which is a lie on two counts since (1) SS was in concept a government program, so
    “building on” it was simply a matter of scaling up. But this racketeering bill is in principle a ferocious repudiation of the very concept of health care as even a social good let alone a human right, as opposed to a commodity to be rationed by ability to pay.

    (2)Yves above effectively shreds the second part of the lie. This is not he old “America”. This is a vicious den of vipers who need to be rooted out with fire. No “incremental” “process” of “reform” will do anything other than be gamed by the gangsters and used to further entrench them.

    It’s the same fraud we see from those who claim places like Switzerland have private-run health care systems similar to the “co-ops” proposed here.

    Yes, but those systems arose organically among actual human societies; no one tried to impose a foreign template, which depends completely upon a high level of civic and social resonsibility, upon a cesspool of gangsters like the one we have here. Obviously you can’t successfully acheive such a transposition, and it’s a lie to say it’s worth trying. Just another scam to waste more time and loot more from the people.

    It’s the same for saying this “reform”, which is no such thing, can ever be “built upon”.

    We can call that the latest in what’s already a sick menagerie of criminal bait-and-switch frauds with this thing.

    1. Richard Kline

      Well put, attempter, and the effort saves me having to say the same things exactly. The incrementalism proposed by those who would pass this . . . in what world? The will to do it right wasn’t there at the start, and the instant this thing is passed we’ll here, “We’ve done enough.” It’s a guaranteed obligation to pay private parties. Since when was it legal to require that. Paying a government managed entity, yes; this monstrosity, no. The problems with this leviathan of greed and inefficaciousness are so numoerous that the few scales of supposed good amongst the warts and pustules are trivial, and will be gamed by the industries involved since there are no controls in this to prevent them from doing so.

      The real reason those who are pushing to pass this are so pushing is ‘for the good of the Democratic Party.’ That’s it—with the bill to the public for services NOT rendered. Kill it early; kill it often; kill it again. This hydra needs to die that we may yet get healthier together.

    2. Jeff65

      Spot on! Having lived in Australia the past 8 years, I can report that their is nothing to fear from single payer health care.

      The often cited fear of “rationing” medical care is ridiculous. The US system already has rationing: it’s rationing based on what each can afford rather than medical need. And if you want to ensure you can move to the front of the queue instead of wait your turn, you can buy private health insurance.

    3. cent21

      I don’t really know the coop model, as applied elsewhere.

      But wouldn’t a civilized opportunity to create a functional coop model, combined with the high level of information networking available these days, let such a group organize amongst themselves, damn the gangsters? I know this diverges from the pressing issue at hand, namely, supporting something happening for one reason or another .vs. damning it to go down in flames.

  3. Jojo

    What I don’t understand is why anyone is getting excited about this hodgepodge of “health reform” that doesn’t even take effect for four years?

    How many people will die by then, waiting for the starting date?

    Hopefully, this mess of a plan will die, they will start over and then pass something that takes effect immediately.

    1. Dara

      Morons like JoJo never fail to amaze me–so vote for it b/c it will go into effect later?

      No thanks. Kill it NOW

      1. Yves Smith Post author


        Name calling is NOT viewed favorably here. You can attack the argument as savagely as you want, but ad hominem attacks fail to prove your case and degraded the thread.

  4. Bill G

    I live my entire life within my means and save my money so I can live through down turns and someday, hopefully, take a break in retirement for a few years before my work here is done.

    If paying down principal on homes bought in the midst of a bubble and now underwater is the “right thing”, I want my share.

    I am tired of living my life within my means only to see those that are imprudent, whether they be banks or individuals, bailed out.

    My great great grandfather fought in the civil war, my father in WWII, and my son joined the Marines right after September 11 with my blessings and thanks. I would not want any of them to shed blood for the country we now have.

    1. Jeff65

      Make sure you attach the blame where it belongs. The fish rots from the head. The perfect consumer is narcissistic and immature. The corporate and government campaign to produce perfect consumers has largely succeeded.

    2. Glen

      I think you’re missing the big picture.

      You’ve already given $12.2 trillion (with a potential to go up to $23.7 trillion) to the guys that caused this mess with tax dollars. You think they didn’t know they were making crap loans? GS even placed bets that the loans were all crap (which was the bets made good when we bailed out AIG). Buying every sub prime loan would have been WAY LESS EXPENSIVE than bailing out the banks. Heck, buying every bank would have been way less expensive then bailing them out the way we did.

      The VAST MAJORITY of us have lived within our means and done everything right. My family got here in 1641 and has fought in every war since then. I’ve got a freaking folded-up American flag in a box on the wall in my living room below the picture of my son next to the framed letter from President Bush. We have all paid VERY HIGH prices for the stupidity of a few over the last twenty or so years.

      Cram-downs are the right thing to do. They met out more equal punishment to owners and the banks and keep the taxpayers out of the loop. Right now, the banks which are responsible for this mess are getting butt loads of our money to keep doing the exact same thing that caused the mess. This didn’t work in Japan, and it wont work here. Home values have tanked and the banks have to eat the loses. Derivatives deserve to be useless (interesting to see that a Chinese company told GS to bugger off when a payment on one came due), but so far this whole “house of cards” financial system is being propped up by your and my tax dollars rather than being fixed.

  5. DoctoRx

    The “unthinkable” alliance between progressives and aspects of the Right actually became evident more than a year ago. It formed in the resistance to TARP. Small town-type Repubs (Shelby, Ron Paul) joined Bernie Sanders types in opposition.

    It’s the Establishment with two wings-one pro-life, the other pro-choice, that’s been running things. The good government types, whether they are for big or small government, have been in opposition. The healthcare bill obv devolved into a sop for the FIRE economy and the medical-industrial complex many months ago.

  6. Dan

    “There is no assurance in this bill that insurers will not deny coverage or delay payments as they do now”

    If that’s true, who in their right mind would participate?

  7. Carlo Ponzi

    <i>Yves here. The problem is that this is not the 1940s and 1950s, a time of rising prosperity and much greater social cohesion than now. And the awfulness of the bill matters.

    Not only that, Congress used to pass laws that were actually in the public interest, but no longer. Legislating has become the art of exploiting your constituents for the benefit of special interests while duping your constituents into believing that they’re the ones benefitting.

  8. run75441

    Hi Yves:

    This cold weather is certainly a PITA. Spring can not get here fast enough. Just a comment on the controversy on Cadillac plans as reported from here:

    “It’s often assumed that high-cost health insurance plans—sometimes called “Cadillac” plans—provide rich benefits to plan subscribers. Health reform provisions that treat these plans like luxuries may be misguided. Only 3.7 percent of variation in the cost of family coverage can be explained by benefit design (actuarial value). Benefit design plus plan type (HMO, PPO, POS, or high-deductible plans) explains 6.1 percent of this variation. Industry type and medical costs in the region also play a role. Most variation in premiums, however, remains largely unexplained.” Health Affairs (hat tip to Maggie Mahar on Healthbeat)

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    The problem with the argument that the bill can be fixed later is that the legislation pointed to as an example was found to be good but not large in enough in scope. Social Security was expanded over the years to include the disabled and the blind because people liked it. This healthcare bill isn’t an expansion of Medicare. Its going to cause more harm than good in a visible way meaning the first step will be to throw out most of the legislation if the current abortion from the Senate is passed.

  10. Robespierre

    The real fallacies about the current health system is that by being private it does not ration care. Does anyone here think that the quality of health care provided by private insurance is the same for all? Care is already being rationed by the insurance companies. My solution (not originally mine) is to make medicare available to all citizens. As far as I’m concern private insurance only reason to “exist” is to contain cost. Since they have failed on that account I prefer if they just go out of bzns.

    1. Doug

      But I’m sure you saw the post here last week about the Mayo Clinic in Arizona denying Medicare patients? So what would you propose accomplish when having it does not give you a “right” (in Yves speak) to actual access? Unless the current bill would deny Mayo the right to refuse access to Medicare patients.

  11. Ishmael

    Social security is the best plan passed by Congress in 70 years but it is fatally flawed and right now insolvent in that it can not pay for actuarially determined benefits. The plan needs to be fixed and the sooner the better. Since the original purpose of benefits was just a few years before death, benefit payout needs to be delayed and people need to realize they are going to have to work longer. Oh, I know the socialist want the rich to pay more but the underfunding now would cost half of the countries total net assets.

    Medicare is something like $60 trillion under funded and also needs to be addressed. This excludes the additional $10 trillion underfunding pharmacy bill passed by Bush the Idiot with the help of Ted Kennedy the Communist.

    The point here, planis in place now are basically bankrupt. Once you are deep in a hole, stop digging. Passing this gigantic bill that accomplishes nothing is ridiculous. Let’s face it, at the rate we are going if the bill is passed by the time it kicks in this country is going to be so buried in deep dodo it is not going to matter.

    It was funny, I was talking to one of my doctors. Has a very successful practice and she was all worked up with things in Washington and she asked me what to do after reading a couple of articles under my real name. I go write your congressman and senator, call the AMA and protest. She was shocked at these thoughts. Now the funny part, her husband is another doctor who works in a speciality almost totally pro bono and she is on his insurance. She was worrying about the cost of her insurance.

    1. Jojo

      Isn’t it true that the reason Social Security is troubled is because one Congress after another has “borrowed” (stolen) all dollars in excess of current liabilities from the plan? And if they hadn’t done so, there would not be a problem now?

    2. run75441


      That $60 trillion you estimated that SS is underfunded is straight out of the AEI playbook; but, but, they do not even give as high an estimate as what you have here. The only way SS is fatallly flawed is if the treasury reneges on the Treasury Notes it has placed into the SS TF while borrowing the SS Withholding Surplus from the GF. If they renege on those, the country is in far more serious trouble.

      It would be a good discussion if you knew what you were talking about; but here again, you do not and are more prone to fanning the flames of discontent and investing in scatology. Feel free to answer in like kind and hopefully with something more factual than innuendo and supposition.

  12. SalmonRising

    It’s not just the wealthy or those with good union health benefits who would get hit with this tax. Anyone who retires before becoming eligible for Medicare and runs out of Cobra coverage is faced with premiums in this range, if indeed they find coverage. Been there. Done that.

  13. Hugh

    I suppose it depends on how you define the left. Single payer advocates were excluded from this process and many were consequently against it from the start. So there was a split between them and the public option people. Those who supported the public option in turn split between those who continued to support the process even after the public option was killed and those who decided, without the public option, it was time to kill the bill. The end result actually repeats an older divide on the left between progressives (single payer and public option supporters) and Democrats (Obama supporters), that is between those who primarily identify as progressive and those who primarily identify as Democrat.

  14. Bob

    Please be so kind as to pass this letter along:

    Dear Madam Speaker:

    We, the undersigned members of Congress, write to voice our strong opposition to the “Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC) Act of 2009” and the “Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) Reform Act of 2009” (H.R.2718, S.1110, S.1380), and the inclusion of any of any of these proposals in the “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act” (H.R.3200), or any other legislation.

    The role that Congress has traditionally played in crafting the Medicare program to provide the best policies for beneficiaries is one that has had a significant impact in our communities. Through the legislative process, Members are able to represent the needs of their communities by improving benefits for seniors and the disabled, affecting policies that fill the health care workforce pipelines, and ensuring that hospitals are equipped to care for diverse populations across our individual districts. Such a responsibility is one that is not taken, nor should be given away, lightly.

    These proposals would eliminate the current advisory role of MedPAC and severely limit Congressional oversight of the Medicare program. By placing this authority within the executive branch, with no Congressional oversight or judicial review, the legislation eliminates the transparency of Congressional hearings and debate. Without the open and transparent legislative process, Medicare beneficiaries and the range of providers who care for them would be greatly limited in their ability to help develop and implement new policies that improve the health care of our nation’s seniors.

    The creation of this commission would also eliminate state and community input into the Medicare program, removing the ability to develop and implement policies expressly applicable to their different patient populations. These national policies that would flow from such a commission would ignore the significant differences and health care needs of states and communities. Geographic and demographic variances that exist in our nation’s health care system and patient populations would be dangerously disregarded. Furthermore, all providers in all states would be required to comply even if these policies were detrimental to the patients they serve. Such a commission could not only threaten the ability of Medicare beneficiaries, but of all Americans, to access the care they need.

    These legislative proposals would also limit Congress’s ability to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create and implement demonstration and pilot projects designed to evaluate new and advanced policies such as at home care for the elderly, the patient-centered medical home, new less invasive surgical procedures, and collaborative efforts between hospitals and physicians, and programs designed to eliminate fraud and abuse. Additionally, these proposals eliminate Members’ ability to represent the needs of their own districts and states by addressing issues such as current and future provider workforce needs, the classification of hospitals that may qualify as critical access or rural hospitals, and obtaining critical health care services such as home health, ambulances, trauma centers, and nursing homes.

    We urge you to reject the inclusion of these proposals or any like proposal in H.R.3200 or any other legislation.


    Richard E. Neal

  15. DellaTerious

    1’st, Health-care and health insurance are not the same thing. If half the money spent on “insuring” people was spent on their care, there would be no health care crisis.
    2’nd. People who are employed are not only ensured health care insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions, their payments are subsidized by taxpayers, since it’s paid for with pre-tax dollars.
    All of which makes the health-care plan’s real design starkly apparent: since companies lay off their older workers, starting around age 50, first, they have no access to any kind of insurance. This means they’ll die at a much greater rate than those with access to doctors and drugs. This keeps the unemployment rate down, as those who die are discouraged from looking for work. Voila! 2 problems solved at once.
    Then, both social security and Medicare are relieved from the onus of making payments for those who died in their 50’s from lack of healthcare. And pension funds have more to pay the survivors.
    This is the REAL Health-care plan, even as we pretend, as a society, that there isn’t one. The model for this is Russia, where, if you reach the age of 65, when benefits kick in, your chances of living to the age of 85 go up astronomically from what they were when you were between the ages of 46 and 64, and uninsured.

    To top off the irony? Conservatives, the loudest deniers of Darwinism, are the largest proponents of this “Survival of the Fittest” heath-care plan.

  16. eric anderson

    “The health care version of the now-standard Obama bait and switch tactic could lead not just to curtailment of the new plan, but could easily become the poster child for an even bigger push to cut other entitlement programs, even ones that are functioning well.”

    Thanks, Yves. That’s the most encouraging thing I’ve heard this week. From your pen to God’s control panel. If we don’t cut programs, we are economic toast. Of course, I’d start with entitlement programs for banksters.

    1. Jeff65

      Regarding economic toast. No. The US government can’t and wont run out of money. It’s called a printing press. Inflation is a constraint, of course, but the only other constraints are purely political.

      Just because you and I are economically able to ride out a deflationary bust doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to bring it on faster. You may as well walk around and shoot random people in the face.

  17. Maggie Mahar

    Alex Black–

    You’re not issing anything.

    The penalties will have to be much, much stiffer– or there will need to be a non-financial penalty that makes people
    stop and think

    Someone (on American Prospect, if memory serves) has suggested that anyone who decides not to buy insurance should both pay the fine and sign something saying that they will not apply for insurance for three years.

    This means that if they suddenly become ill or are in a car accident over those three years they risk: a) going bankrupt and b) getting sub-standard care.

    (The uninsured just don’t get the same care that insured patients receive. Many studies on this in journals like Health Affairs.)

    Right now, few people are talking about the fact that the penalites are not strong enough.

    For obvious reasons, this is not a popular postion.

    But,as you point out, anyone with any common sense would realize that it is the truth.

    1. Vinny G.

      “Someone (on American Prospect, if memory serves) has suggested that anyone who decides not to buy insurance should both pay the fine and sign something saying that they will not apply for insurance for three years.”

      Only in America somebody can propose such harsh and brutal solutions. What is it with some people from this country that have to think in such violent terms?

      You really cannot tell people that. You just can’t. You just can’t destroy a human being in order to save the system some money. To hell with the system. No other nation except the US does that. All civilized or half-way civilized nations will provide health care to those who need it without any strings attached. Why does America have to remain such a barbaric nation even in the 21st century? Why?


      1. run75441


        How is it anymore harsh and brutal than what exists today when insurance companies charge more than what people can legitimately afford and making less than Median Household Income. This bill has subsidies for up to $58,000 dependent upon the size of the household and is just the beginning.

        The leading cause of bankruptcy is illness, disorder or trauma. If you know what Bush’s 2005 Bankruptcy and Consumer Protection Act did for the common person, it allowed them to check in but they can’t check out . . . a roach motel. The power resides with the creditors and not the courts and definitely not you.

        How is this bill worst by asking them to get healthcare insurance? The bill caps expenditures on healthcare, it has no lifetime limit, it has subsidies except for those in the older bunch >45 who are charged 3x a younger person and are above the subsidy, it has the MLR, who has ratios, etc. You just have to buy into it.

        If you want the Norway system rather than this bill; then you have to have the balls to demand it from your senator and congress person rather than write this silliness to Maggie. She is telling you what this bill has and you guys want nothing.

  18. Vinny G.

    I wonder how that fraud and disclosing preexisting conditions would work under this bill.

    Let’s say you come down with a form of lymphoma (cancer), but your doctor mistakes it for infectious mononucleosis and sends you home telling you to put up with it until it goes away (in adults it can take years or misery).

    You apply for insurance, and tell them you have mononucleosis. They accept you. Next, as your lymphoma progresses, you get much sicker, so further testing reveals you actually have lymphoma, requiring expensive and expensive treatment.

    Would the criminals at the insurance company now cancel your policy based on your “fraudulently” telling them you have mononucleosis when in fact you had cancer? Even if you didn’t know about it?

    If so, thanks, Oh’bama — you really screwed up our “audacity of hope” to not die in the streets like the sick dogs that this Fascist America has turned us into.


  19. Doug Terpstra

    Good questions, Vinny—rhetorical no doubt. Regulators monitoring compliance of this farcical bill would be as wholly captives of the sick care industry as are financial regulators now, and trade negotiators, mine safety, food safety, consumer product safety inspectors, etc.

    The issue of preexisting conditions also has many loopholes such as caps and variable premiums. Insurance companies can charge 3 times (300%) more for patients over fifty, for example, 50% more for smokers, and for others risk factors, some involuntary. And watch out if you’re overweight.

    The status quo is unsustainable, all agree. It just boggles the mind that Dems could actually devise something WORSE.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Here’s a link to points above at DailyKos with excerpts of the bill and comments from Wendell Potter, former CIGNA soldier:

      It’s a bit dated but I believe those provisions are in the final Senate version, gracias a Leiberman.

      Anyway, if an insurer can triple your rates for pre-existing conditions isn’t that really tantamount to denying insurance? And what about a floor; what if they can also double base rates, what will that do for cost containment? They could then sextuple rates for the 50-plus boomers.

      Cha-Ching, Cha-ching! Break out the brandy and cigars, Jeeves!

      It is unreal that Dems could possibly be so dense or presumptuous of their sheeple base. Are gunshot wounds to both feet covered in the Congressional plan? This is so bad and so self-destructive for the party, it beggars the imagination. There must be a theatrical angle to it.

  20. Doug

    Residents in Massachusetts are in a position to do something regarding heathcare reform bill.

    There is a special vote for a senate seat next week, and the Republican candidate “promises to be the 41st vote against healthcare reform”.

    If a senate seat in Massachusetts goes to a *Republican* that will send a very strong message about how the populace of this country feel about the Healthcare reform.


  21. Francois T

    More than ever, I agree with my colleague Dr. Howard Dean.

    This bill must die!

    Back to the drawing board, Congressional REMFs! And this time, try to do the right thing.

    Otherwise, it’ll hurt aplenty in November 2010.

    Oh! How about reforming the Senate of the US; you know, this utter abomination that used to be a deliberative body? Leaving the fate of the most essential reform in 60 years to a vain, moronic egotistic asshat like Joe Lieberman, as as well as a single-minded anti-abortion zealot lie Ben Nelson (who will never carry a baby) speaks volumes about how broken this institution is.

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