Health Care Reform Facts Week

Health care reform is in the home stretch, but the fools running the Republican Party and their corporate sponsors are throwing every desperate trick in the book (and some that aren't in the book yet) to try to hold it off.

Once the House acts--which could come as early as next week--it's "game over" for the opposition. The basic reform structure will be through both chambers of Congress, and the "reconciliation" package of improvements will be strucurally and politically unblockable in the formal Senate reconcilation vote. The GOP will be down to hours of obstruction time left--not years.

President Obama is back in full campaign mode, delivering firey speeches to the national media and to regional audiences in key states. His Organizing for America network is pleading for help in getting the facts out in sufficient volume to overcome the lie-o-matic machinery of the far right and its tame media.

Our help is needed to splint up the backbones of wavering Democrats in the House.

I am working to help get the facts out in online postings and other messages this week. You can too. Please check out the details at


Thanks, Dan

Front-paged for maximum exposure.

I support the public option

and for most of last year argued that a bill without it was worth little.

I believe that I was right to argue for the public option--and I still do--but was I mistaken in concluding that it was necessary to meaningfully expand coverage.

My mistake was in assuming that the more efficient method of expanding coverage access and reigning in insurance company abuses was the only functional one. I still think that providing a direct strong competitor to monopolistic insurers is a better approach.

Fortunately, however, that better approach is not necessary to implement the start of a national legal commitment to universal coverage. Even the limited, multi-flawed starter system established by the Senate bill covers an additional 30 million Americans by 2019 than continuing under the status quo. And with the improvements likely to contained in the reconciliation package, it will be somewhat better than that.

But even if you concede that point, why not hold out to demand the public option immediately anyway?

Because, unfortunately, this more efficient approach (a strong public option) is one of those that we probably can't get to in this step one of reform. Partly for reasons related to the arcanity of rules on what we can get past the Senate under "reconciliation". Even if we could, there is a real danger that attempting to include it in the reconciliation package would cost enough votes in the House to take it down there.

I personally blame the handful of fanatically anti-choice Democrats led by Stupak for that dilemma. Their intransigence in support of using health care reform as a vehicle for further restricting access to reproductive choice is forcing Pelosi and crew to dig for replacement votes among the "fiscally conservative" Dems who voted "no" last year out of opposition to the public option.

We should know soon whether the Speaker can round up enough House votes to include the public option in the reconciliation package. If so, wonderful. If not, we still need to pass what we've got available now. We can keep fighting to add the public option over time.

More on that in a response below.

Dan Besse

which is it?

Option A: "Health care reform is in the home stretch, but the fools running the Republican Party and their corporate sponsors are throwing every desperate trick in the book (and some that aren't in the book yet) to try to hold it off."

Option B: "Our help is needed to splint up the backbones of wavering Democrats in the House."

Who is it that will cause health care reform to fail?

The Republican Party and their corporate sponsors?

Or the Democrats who have control of both houses of Congress and the White House? All they have to do is vote yes! It is the fault of the elected Democrats if health care fails! The best defense is a good offense! Should have been passed long ago...........and it would all be history now........and we could be working on other important issues.

Plenty of blame

will be available to spread around if reform fails.

Who would top the blame list? Corporate schills in the GOP? Gutless Democrats in Congress? The crackpot media outlets led by Faux News? Immoral greedheads in the insurance industry?

Frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn. I just want to get reform started now, and we can all argue later about who to blame that the start wasn't stronger or the process was so long and excruciating.

Dan Besse

There is no choice

No one would mistake me for a Republican, and I'm vehemently opposed to passing the Senate bill.

I strongly urge progressives to find a spine and stand with Dennis Kucinich and against this Republican-lite, Senate/corporate-slop HCR bill.

If the Senate would pass a revised bill first (through reconciliation -- which everyone says is possible now, but wasn't when we wanted a public option months ago), then I would reconsider.

Kill the Senate bill.


A formula for failure.

First, I respect your principles and your passion.

Second, I believe that your recommendation is a prescription for another decade without getting started on a national commitment to universal health care coverage. We have never in American history been so close to making that commitment in federal law. We have never before been so close setting up a system, flawed as it may be in its initial details, and unnecessarily convoluted as it would be, that makes a meaningful start on getting there.

Remember, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, civil rights, pollution control, and more all got off to weak and limited starts. All have been strengthened over time. Today, no one but capital-L Libertarian true believers and the most selfish of corporate-state "conservatives" believe we'd be better off without those programs and laws.

Sure, single-payer is demonstrably more efficient, and our closest international allies (Canada, Britain, most of Western Europe, etc.) all have some version of it. But we may as well hold out for an immediate constitutional amendment to reverse the legal idiocies that corporations are people and money is speech, and refuse to take part in elections until that happens. Similar results would be produced: We do not have the votes to get what we'd be demanding, so we'd just get ignored and no progress will be made at all.

I care about abstract principle too. But I care much more about the tens of millions of Americans who lack decent (or any) health care coverage. I care about the hundreds of thousands of them who will die prematurely over the next decade if we botch this chance now to get them coverage. I'll hold my nose and pitch hard for a mediocre start now rather than a continually receding mirage of perfect reform later, if that flawed start will save lives and reduce suffering.

Those are the real people who will suffer for years if we fail now because we're holding out for the stronger start we'd prefer--but simply do not have, and cannot get, the votes in Congress to adopt instead.

That's my bottom line.

Dan Besse

plenty of blame

I agree that many will share the blame if we fail to reform health care. I would like to see some legislation - anything - as a starting point. Once that hurdle was crested then work could begin over many sessions to beat it into something that benefits the country. I know some people who are opposed to health care reform - and don't have health care coverage? They have bought into the slogans. I'm guessing they have never seen someone with serious health problems slip away without decent medical care. There will be many rough spots in any health care reform but what major legislation has not had rough spots. I'm for passing something and then improving it.

How many times have I heard this?

I'm for passing something and then improving it.

No. NO. NO!

These sixteenth-of-a-loaf measures are what got us here in the first place.

This is not a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. It's a case of forcing the bad on those worst off.

Where is the anti-trust repeal? Isn't that something we all agree on? Well, it's not in the Senate bill.

I've seen my share of dying, and I'm getting ready to see a lot more with ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program) capped and no ETHA in the Senate bill -- but ETHA (Early Treatment for HIV Act) was in the House bill.

And that's just one example.

Screw anyone who claims that the Senate bill will save lives. It's not.

Sadly, I'll have the opportunity in the not-so-distant future to follow up with posts on how kowtowing to the corporatists in the US Senate killed North Carolinians where the House bill would have saved them.


I respectfully call your attention

to the Senate bill's adding coverage for 30 million Americans who will not otherwise have it--including the 15 million additional working poor people who will get Medicaid, and the millions more who would otherwise lack or lose coverage because of "pre-existing conditions" or the onset of illness or the arrival of lifetime cost caps.

I could add many more items, but I think those suffice to make the point.

I believe that your assertion that these measures will not save lives is unsupportable on the merits.

This is not a question of whether we could theoretically do better. Of course we could. The question is whether we can get the votes in Congress to do better immediately or within the next few years. And the answer to that, very unfortunately, is no. At least not without getting over the political hump now of passing a basic structural reform bill in the first place.

Should we once again let the unachievable "better" be the enemy of the available "good"? And in the process facilitate the condemnation of millions to avoidable suffering?

Over my dead body.

Dan Besse

About this HCR bill and public option

First of all, even Pelosi is saying that she doesn't know if she can meet Obama's deadline on getting this thing done. And, I see the problem. Watching this closely right now, I have seen that there still is not a final bill that could be considered from a simple majority (reconcilliation) standpoint. In addition, with all of the fixes being put in place, the CBO has not seen them so, obviously, has not been able to put a price tag on what would be the bill in final form. So, this whole process is most certainly going to be decided "down the road a piece". Personally, from what I am hearing and seeing now with the congressional Black Caucus and the congressional Hispanic Caucus having questions and reservations about some stipulations in the final bill...not to mention the "questionables" and "hold-outs" within the democratic party in congress...this thing is anything but a done deal.

Dan Besse's presentation here is pretty much dead on in my view especially from the standpoint of the public option. That one particular portion of the original HCR bill was what initially got me to believing that this is what is needed in our country. I just have not seen good arguments against it, especially from a standpoint of having a "health insurance" choice for Americans that would compete with existing insurance companies. I would think that even the free marketeers would be on board with this as competition is a large part of why they believe the free market is so wonderful.

In any case, I guess my point is that the HCR bill most here on BlueNC wants and hopes for, even as a "starter plan", is in no way a done deal. There is a lot of work left to be done to make it actually reach the president's desk.

Game Over?

The "game" will be over for Dems if this bill passes... a small and temporary price to pay in the long run for a return to fiscal sanity. Wonder who will be the Ronald Reagan in 2012? Enjoy that petard you'll be hoisted on!

Again...we'll see

I think you mentioned the pendelum affect here. If you have followed politics (even a little bit) you know that the more things change, the more they stay the same especially when it comes to politics in America.

I remember just how good the republicans had it back when Reagan and company were in office. It seemed like dems were going to be forever relegated to the minority party. But, guess what?

Politics in America has a wierd way of turning around on a dime. It does not take much to have public opinion swing one way or the other. You make some good points and even many democrats like myself wonder about some of our party's efforts on some things. But, we wonder FAR more about republican efforts on many things, Fruits.

NEVER count your chickens. Things change...rapidly. If you do not know this, you are one more follower brainwashed by those that ring your bell at this particular point in time.

Mitt Romney appears to be

leading the pack right now of new Ronald Reagans. You know, the guy from Massachusetts:

When I took up Tom's challenge, I assembled a team from business, academia and government and asked them first to find out who was uninsured, and why. What they found was surprising. Some 20% of the state's uninsured population qualified for Medicaid but had never signed up. So we built and installed an Internet portal for our hospitals and clinics: When uninsured individuals show up for treatment, we enter their data online. If they qualify for Medicaid, they're enrolled.

Medicaid? Isn't that one of them gubmint taxpayer-funded things?

I proposed that everyone must either purchase a product of their choice or demonstrate that they can pay for their own health care. It's a personal responsibility principle.

Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.

Mandates? Why, that's Fascism!

Another group of uninsured citizens in Massachusetts consisted of working people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford health-care insurance. Here the answer is to provide a subsidy so they can purchase a private policy. The premium is based on ability to pay: One pays a higher amount, along a sliding scale, as one's income is higher. The big question we faced, however, was where the money for the subsidy would come from. We didn't want higher taxes; but we did have about $1 billion already in the system through a long-established uninsured-care fund that partially reimburses hospitals for free care. The fund is raised through an annual assessment on insurance providers and hospitals, plus contributions from the state and federal governments.

Wait a minute! The rich pay a higher percentage? And and...the rest of the money is taken from businesses and taxpayers? Outrageous!

Quit with the facts, scharrison !

You boggle down the debate when you start presenting facts and stuff. STOP ! :)

What you have presented is just so dead on and just so telling about the idiocy and lunacy involved in the republicans' efforts to thwart the efforts to have a comprehensive national health care bill. I have read a great deal about the Mass. health care plan and aside from some skewed information and some cherry-picking facts, this is a working model.

I like this guy Fruits that has come here and is arguing points from the right-side perspective. Why he is here is questionable, but, he is here nonetheless.

One thing this guy argued was "look at Social Security" and the trouble it is having with funding. Of course, he makes ZERO mention of any of the republicans that initiated efforts that took money from Social Security or that voted for democratic-led bills that took money from Social Security which has, at the end of the day, seen that program projected to be insolvent in just a few years. It isn't a bad program. In fact, it is a fabulous program. The problem with it is in the tampering by politicians from BOTH parties. Same goes for Medicare. But, there again, this Fruits guy points to that as being some kind of example of how government doesn't work.

I am a proponent of the HCR bill getting passed. But, saying that, it will only be as good as those that direct it and watch after it. If it becomes rife with graft and corruption and abuse, it will be a failure. Hopefully it passes, is implemented, people all around our country get health care and it is not abused.


Social Security

It was Reagan's administration (and a Republican Congress) that pushed for an increase in payroll withholding to create the Superfund, which they immediately started "borrowing" from to finance their military shenanigans.

Al Gore was one of the lone voices back in the 90's calling for a "lockbox" to protect the Superfund, so it could remain solvent through the initial onslaught of Baby Boomer retirements.

But Republicans are ever so comfortable with their spotty memory.

Interesting read

This article is an extremely interesting read. Very pointed. Tough to argue on the subject of Social Security.

Get even less if we have to try again

Dan argues the other points much better than I can so I will just point to this article from Ezra Klein on how every time we go back to health care we fight for less. FDR and Truman tried and failed to get single payer and now we are fighting hard to pass a plan for a private system that is very similar to what the Republicans proposed in 1993.