Thursday, December 17, 2009

With Friends Like These...

Tony Palmeri's in high dudgeon over the health reform bill, joining a few other mostly loud voices on the left calling for it to be killed because it lacks a public option or the Medicare buy-in.

Nothing could be more reckless.

Kevin Drum rather succinctly explains why:
But the fate of failed major initiatives is so obvious that I can't believe anyone is taking this seriously. When big legislative efforts go down in flames, they almost never spring back onto the calendar anytime soon — and that's especially true when big healthcare bills fail. It didn't happen in 1936, it didn't happen in 1949, it didn't happen in 1974, and it didn't happen in 1995. What makes anyone think it will happen in 2010?

If healthcare reform dies this year, it dies for a good long time.
Lets take this several steps further: if health care goes down in flames, the left can also say good bye to meaningful climate change legislation, financial regulatory reform and most other high priority domestic agenda items. Almost immediately the Obama Administration starts becoming about school uniforms and Midnight Basketball.

And that will be the status quo for, at minimum, the next seven years, or until there is a new Democratic president. Of course, that President likely won't enjoy an nominal 20 vote majority in the Senate which means things like a public option or Medicare buy-in are out of the question. Seven years quickly turns into 15, which turns into another generation.

During that time, health care in the real world only gets worse. Premiums are expected to rise 71% in the next decade, and since we may be headed for a very long decade economically speaking, that means more families with fewer health care options. Why? Because members of the far left didn't think they got enough.

Pardon me while I roll my eyes and make the universal "jerking off" sign language motion ...

Here's what the bill still has according to Drum:
  • Insurers have to take all comers. They can't turn you down for a preexisting condition or cut you off after you get sick.
  • Community rating. Within a few broad classes, everyone gets charged the same amount for insurance.
  • Individual mandate. I know a lot of liberals hate this, but how is it different from a tax? And its purpose is sound: it keeps the insurance pool broad and insurance rates down.
  • A significant expansion of Medicaid.
  • Subsidies for low and middle income workers that keeps premium costs under 10% of income.
  • Limits on ER charges to low-income uninsured emergency patients.
  • Caps on out-of-pocket expenses.
  • A broad range of cost-containment measures.
  • A dedicated revenue stream to support all this.
Getting rid of pre-existing condition turn-aways alone would be an enormous accomplishment and would save hundreds of thousands of people from going bankrupt due to health concerns every year. And, as no insignificant bonus, it also expands coverage. Here's what Nate Silver has to say about how the bill will keep costs down (and his battery of questions to those who want to kill the bill).

The bottom line is this: anyone one on the left who thinks this bill must die because it "doesn't go far enough" is not serious about health care reform. They prefer an increase in physical pain and financial hardship, since that's what inaction would result in, over measures that will likely relieve suffering for millions for purely ideological and revanchist reasons. It's impossible to take these claims seriously.

Thankfully, there isn't a Senator on Capitol Hill who seems to be entertaining these calls. Not Feingold, not Franken, not even Bernie Sanders. They all know the stakes are too high to be playing games. I'm sure there will be a few wankers in the House like Dennis Kucinich who will vote against the Senate version of the bill "on principle," but the only principle they'll be voting on is self-importance.

1 comment:

Grant said...

Wasn't Hippocrates from...Kos?