Sunday, August 16, 2009

White House to Drop Public Option?

Or are they simply changing the label?

According to AP,

White House appears ready to drop 'public option' (8/16/09 AP) [emphasis is mine]

WASHINGTON – Bowing to Republican pressure, President Barack Obama's administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.

"Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession probably would enrage Obama's liberal supporters but could deliver a much-needed victory on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers."

Health insurance cooperatives??

"With $3 billion to $4 billion in initial support from the government, the co-ops would operate under a national structure with state affiliates, but independent of the government. They would be required to maintain the type of financial reserves that private companies are required to keep in case of unexpectedly high claims."

So the "seed money" to the tune of $4 billion to be paid by taxpayers (whether the taxpayers like it or not; I've seen much higher numbers, too) will create these co-ops, national structure with state affiliates (i.e. structure clearly mandated by the government) but "independent of the government" - you mean like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (government-sponsored enterprise) independent, or Social Security Administration ("independent agency" of the government) independent?

If it walks, talks, quacks like a duck, it is a duck, and the duck is called "the government".

The mastermind behind this co-op plan is Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee.

"Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called the argument for a government-run public plan little more than a "wasted effort." He added there are enough votes in the Senate for a cooperative plan.

""It's not government-run and government-controlled," he said. "It's membership-run and membership-controlled. But it does provide a nonprofit competitor for the for-profit insurance companies, and that's why it has appeal on both sides.""

Mr. Conrad thinks it is membership-run when the government provides $4 billion dollars and the board appointed by the Health Secretary dictates the national and state structures. He dare calls it "a competitor" for the for-profit insurance companies. Talk about unlevel playing field. But clearly Mr. Conrad and his supporters on both sides of the isle at Congress don't seem to care a bit.

"Obama, writing in Sunday's New York Times, said political maneuvers should be excluded from the debate.

""In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain," he wrote. "But for all the scare tactics out there, what's truly scary — truly risky — is the prospect of doing nothing.""

At this point, I have no idea what the President is babbling about. Cynics and naysayers? They are the people who don't want to fund your grandiose projects with their hard-earned dollars. Scare tactics? You mean the actual sections and subsections of the bill H.R. 3200 that an increasing number of taxpayers are actually reading? They are scary indeed. As for "doing nothing", I have a feeling that if this bill dies, Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has lagged the other indices around the world, will do a very rapid catch-up by jumping 3, 5% in a day.

(Mr. President, didn't you say just about the same thing when you rammed through the so-called "stimulus" package back in February, that if Congress did nothing it would be a catastrophe? And as soon as it was passed and the stock market tanked afresh in response, you recommended Americans buy stocks because they were cheap.)

The AP article then mentions Section 1233 (Advanced Care Planning) of the House health care bill H.R. 3200:

"Congress' proposals, however, seemed likely to strike end-of-life counseling sessions. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has called the session "death panels," a label that has drawn rebuke from her fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

"Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, declined to criticize Palin's comments and said Obama wants to create a government-run panel to advise what types of care would be available to citizens.
"In all honesty, I don't want a bunch of nameless, faceless bureaucrats setting health care for my aged citizens in Utah," Hatch said. "

"Sebelius [Health Secretary] said the end-of-life proposal was likely to be dropped from the final bill."

Is the Secretary saying this because this particular section has caused such an uproar throughout the country, or was the section merely a trial balloon from the beginning, a bait, if you will, to lure the critics and brand them "evil-mongers" and "un-American" - if they get away with it, great; if not, no big deal?

I wouldn't hold my breath.

What about other monstrosities like:

  • Section 141 Presidential appointee to run Health Choices Administration, that will decide every aspect of the health care for the "rest of us" (remember, Congress will be exempt)
  • Section 163 The government will have direct electronic access to your bank account to make sure you have money to pay for the service
  • Section 401 Surtax for people without health care plan that is "acceptable to the government" (who knows what's "acceptable" to the government?)
  • All the porks scattered throughout to fund "community-based" activities (there's no definition of "community" but you can make a good guess).
The whole bill should be ditched, as far as I'm concerned. While we're at it, ditch the climate bill, ditch the financial "reform" bill, too. We simply cannot afford it. Even if we can afford it, what's being offered is the worst possible solution that will increase the government intrusion into private lives and further disrupt the market.


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