Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Healthcare Fight: Where the Battle Lines are Drawn

I logged in to the Internet this morning, perused the political news and came upon this link:

Top Blue Dog Boasts: "We Held Bill Hostage," Killed Single Payer

Rep. Mike Ross on Thursday boasted about how his Blue Dog coalition "held the [health care] bill hostage in committee for 10 days" and prevented a single payer plan.

We ensured that if there is a government option, it will be just that -- an option -- and it won't be mandated on anybody. If it had been based on Medicare rates, I can assure you that it would have eventually ended up resulting in a single payer-type system, because Medicare has really good rates, because they're negotiating for every senior in America. Private insurance companies could not have competed with that. And so we would have at the end of the day ended up with single payer. Now we've leveled the playing field, if there is a government option they'll have to go out again and negotiate with providers just like private insurance companies do. That was important to me to insure that we don't end up with some type of single payer system.

What type of legislation did we end up with after the Blue Dogs have done their work on it. You can read it for yourself -- all 1,017 pages of it in the PDF.

Say what? You say you don’t have the time or energy to go through a thousand-page document and you are not a lawyer who can easily decipher legal language? Thankfully here are a couple of summaries that break it down for regular folks:

Open Congress
House Committee on Education and Labor

This bill is what being fought over the summer in town hall meetings all over the country before the Congress sets out to vote for it in the Fall. The House version of the public option is where the battle lines are currently drawn.

Single payer? Nah – it’s not even on the table. Strangely enough, buried under all the nasty battles and rhetorical skirmishes over this version of the public option, there were two pieces of legislation that were presented to Congress that dealt with enacting single-payer healthcare earlier this year

HR 676
S 703

It is interesting to see the miniscule activity on their Open Congress profiles and their obscurity relative to the widespread coverage on the fight over HR 3200. It is interesting to me how (a) HR 676 and S 703 are really the types of healthcare programs that are truly “universal healthcare” in scope; and (b) many Americans (page 7 of the pdf) seem to be in favor of universal healthcare (page 4 of the pdf) yet there was not a significant public uproar to support the enactment of these bills into law. These bills weren’t even part of the vigorous public debate on healthcare.


The Angry Independent said...

Unfortunately, single payer was never considered. There was never a realistic shot of getting it through. So Obama shot it down early.

But what bugs me is that they have conceded once again by killing the idea of a serious public option to compete with private insurance companies. The current plan being considered has no real public option. That was stripped out in committee negotiations.

What we are likely to get is a watered down plan (like I suspected all along)...and it may make things worse than if they had done nothing at all.

If I were advising Obama, I would seriously consider abandoning this thing.... or at least shelving it for a year or so. As I mentioned before... it was stupid of them to try this during an economic crisis. It was just plain stupid.

What Obama should do now is retreat for the time being... wait until after 2010.... hope that they can pick up a couple of Senate seats (probably not likely...but you never know)...and wait until the economy improves and try again. 2010 (under a slightly better economy) or 2011/2012 might be better. He needs to get control of his message early....and have a complete plan on the table that he can market. THEN go out to sell it. Currently...he's trying to sell something that he doesn't have completed yet...and this allows the Republicans to define what's in the plan (in other words...make up whatever lies they want).

But probably the biggest problem is that Progressives/Dems are unable to compete with the Right when it comes to the media war. Progressive voices are outnumbered 10-1, and they don't have a media infrastructure to speak of. This is why they never have control of their's always defined on Conservatives terms. Republicans control the news filter.

Until this changes.... the Obama Administration, and any other Democrat Administration, will continue to have this problem.

Even CNN and MSNBC are using Right Wing talking points. CNN interviewed Rick Scott yesterday as if he was a legitimate authority on Healthcare. They didn't ask him any probing questions... just softball stuff. (This is one of the spinsters behind the anti-healthcare efforts...spreading lies, promoting protests, etc).

Combine the media imbalance with the fact that there are racial undertones involved in people's opposition to Healthcare Reform (and other initiatives) and the fact that we have a dumbed down population in this Country....that seems to fall for just about anything...and we have a government that can't govern and a nation that may not be able to fix itself.

I have never seen so much racism and irrational xenophobia displayed publicly in this Country. Obama is forcing racism to boil over in people....

Folks seem to be losing their minds at this point. Rational thought (which Americans rarely seem to have anyway) is gone.

I have also never seen so many uninformed, ignorant Americans.

Liberal Arts Dude said...

Echoing a sentiment expressed at the TPM blog Anti-Health Care Reform Protester Encourages Physical Violence, Use Of Firearms, given the EXTREMELY modest nature of the reform being proposed on the table, things have gotten out of hand crazy really fast.

Liberal Arts Dude said...

Here is an interesting and very powerful argument for rallying around single payer by Kip Sullivan of the Physicians for a National Health Program. It delves in detail on the political infeasibility argument of enacting single payer versus the current battle over a watered-down public option.

Conservatives never base their opposition to single-payer on the ground that it is “politically infeasible.” They oppose single-payer on policy grounds and they say so. The “political feasibility” argument is used exclusively by proponents of universal health insurance who profess to admire single-payer systems but who refuse to support single-payer legislation in any meaningful way (and often support legislation that impedes single-payer’s progress) on the ground that single-payer cannot be enacted, soon or at all.

My own take: I support reform of the healthcare system but I am not quite sure if I can support HR 3200 as the reform to rally around. I prefer HR 676 or S 703. There is a movement behind single payer which has been in existence since the 1980s. And I do deplore the aggressive, brownshirt tactics of the right wing in trying to shut down debate and use intimidation to defeat even the modest public option that the Obama administration is proposing.