This may come as a surprise to viewers of Glenn Beck, but the “public option” is maintaining its popularity – 57% support for a public option — as indicated in a Washington Post-ABC poll, released Oct. 19. But despite the polling and Beck’s ramblings, the Obama administration continues to indicate publicly that they favor a public option, but that its presence in the final bill isn’t essential.
By all accounts the final battle for a health care reform bill is set; apparently, it is a fight that will take place solely within the majority party and largely within the senate. The GOP minority, along with the health insurance lobby and conservative media outlets, will participate, but as an outside force bent on killing reform. Their attacks, while numerous and well publicized, are having little to no effect upon public support.
AHIP’s ‘Hatchet Job’ Backfires
The latest salvo from the insurance lobby came in the form of a America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) report. The report was meant as a warning to the Senate Finance Committee, released on Oct. 12, the day before the committee’s vote which sent their version of a reform bill on to the full senate. Upon closer examination of the AHIP report — which warned of higher premiums as a result of reform — it became apparent that its gloomy forecast was a false assessment, examining only parts of the Senate Finance bill.
Further, as Paul Krugman noted in his Oct. 15 New York Times column, the result of the AHIP “hatchet job” was to signal policy makers on how to improve health care reform:
One [AHIP] argument was particularly striking: the claim that attempts to limit Medicare spending would lead to higher insurance premiums. In fact, the report assumes that 100 percent of any reduction in Medicare payments to hospitals will translate into higher costs for patients with private insurance…
…What’s more, this argument stands the usual logic of markets on its head: if you believe AHIP’s story, competition raises prices instead of reducing them. And it doesn’t matter where the competition comes from: anyone who gets a better deal, whether it’s Medicare or a private insurer, makes life worse for everyone else. I don’t believe that, and neither should you.
…Specifically, it claims that a public insurance option would be a bad thing — not because it would be inefficient, but because the public plan would negotiate better prices. Isn’t that an argument for, not against, such a plan?
In Krugman’s view, AHIP was “overreaching,” crying wolf about a version of the bill which had already been weakened by senators seeking to appease industry lobbyists. By strengthening the proposed health exchange and individual mandate, the pool of insured could be large enough to ensure a level of competition that would put downward pressure on prices.
“The insurance industry won’t like these changes,” Krugman notes, and as a result of AHIP’s behavior, “that matters less than it did a week ago.”
Glenn Beck…*sigh* Well, Just Doing His Thing
Likewise, conservative media opposition doesn’t seem hold the sway it did in recent weeks. Perhaps it never did, but the level of noise generated by right-wing commentators, echoed in the mainstream press, often gives the illusion of influence. Consider the Oct. 12 assertion from Glen Beck, that forty-five per-cent of doctors “say they’ll quit” if health reform passes.
Of course, this is absurd. Politifact.com noted Oct. 15 that Beck’s claim is based upon a false reading of a bad poll. In the same manor that health insurance lobbyists are overreaching, as Krugman indicated, Beck is unwittingly signaling congress that they need not be timid in their reform efforts.
Yet, the fact remains that the Obama administration, while supportive of a public option as a means to ensure competition, won’t go so far as to demand it. They’ve done well to confront their critics as they have recently, publicly questioning the objectivity of Beck’s employer. Obama, himself, addressed the dishonest resistance posed by AHIP and others within his most recent (Oct. 17) weekly address to the nation.
These are positive signs for those urging the White House to show some spine in defending health care reform in general, and specifically, a public option. What we’re still anxiously waiting for, though, is for the administration to stand up to the foot-draggers within their own party.
As always, thanks for reading, and be sure to let me know what you think. Will Obama bring the Democrats into line? If not, there are some willing to do so on his behalf.
PCCC Pressures Harry Reid with New Ad
From The Hill, Oct. 19:
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) launched an ad in Nevada urging Sen. Harry Reid to muscle through a public option as part of healthcare reform.
As majority leader, Reid (D-Nev.) is responsible for merging the Senate [Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions] Committee’s legislation with the bill passed by the Finance Committee. A number of leading Senate liberals have publicly urged Reid to include a public plan…
This is not the first time they have sought to encourage Reid. As I noted in my Oct. 9 post, the PCCC petitioned Reid to strip uncooperative Democrats of the committee leadership posts should they facilitate a Republican filibuster. That was a suggestion. This new effort sounds more like a threat.
Here’s the PCCC ad:
According to the PCCC, since their campaign was featured on MSNBC‘s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Oct. 19, the progressive organization has already raised enough to air the above ad 194 times.
I think the PCCC is applying they’re pressure on the proper target. With Obama’s approval rating at 57% and rising (also from the WaPo-ABC poll), focusing such a campaign at the president could have undesirable consequences, possibly pushing reluctant Democrats further away from a public option.
Elsewhere on Care2:
Mark Seltzer, “Health Insurance Reform Priorities,” Oct. 19. – Seltzer encourages readers to try an intellectual exersize, prioritizing 13 separate insurance reform goals.
Sign the Petition – Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege
Read more: activism, AHIP, barack obama, committee, congress, democrats, glenn beck, harry reid, health care, healthcare, obama, paul-krugman, pccc, politics, progressive change campaign, progressives, reform, republicans, senate, senator
Image from Flickr.com user, borman818 via CreativeCommons.org
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