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Senate Compromises Threaten to Doom Comprehensive Health Care Reform

Senate Compromises Threaten to Doom Comprehensive Health Care Reform

Tentative agreement among Senate Democrats to forgo a public option came as no surprise this week, as Democrats tried to move closer to garnering enough votes to pass a health care reform bill. In its place would be a national health plan to be administered by the government’s Office of Personnel Management, the overseeing body of the program that federal employees and members of Congress now enjoy.

The new insurance exchanges would be created by the private sector and made up of nonprofit entities. If no private insurers step up to offer a national plan, the Office of Personal Management will be authorized to set up a government-run plan. 

Additionally, Medicare would be opened up to individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 who cannot obtain coverage through the employers or on the individual market. Eligible people in this age group would more than likely face far higher premiums than those 65 or older. 

The Senate, unlike the House, rejected a proposal to tighten abortion limits beyond current law.

The Congressional Budget Office report on how it all pans out financially is pending. 

The proposed legislation is expected to extend coverage to 30 million currently uninsured Americans, with tax subsidies to help low-income people comply with the mandate to purchase coverage. However, it still leaves far too many citizens out in the cold. 

President Obama praised the Senate’s compromise on the public option, saying, “The Senate made critical progress last night with a creative new framework that I believe will help pave the way for final passage and an historic achievement.” 

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, also appeared to be supportive of the idea of the insurance exchange and the expansion of Medicare, but is awaiting details.

Discussion is ongoing and the Senate is expected to continue discussions throughout the holidays. At this point, there’s no telling what kind of bill will result.

If a Senate bill does pass, the biggest hurdle still remains. Reconciling the Senate bill with the House bill could begin in January, but working out the differences in abortion rights, the public option, and how to pay for it all, among other things, will be in bitter dispute. The big fear would be more watering down of comprehensive reform.

We won’t have health care reform in 2009, but it is likely that some kind of bill will pass in 2010. It won’t be what the liberals wanted. It won’t be what the conservatives wanted. It’s probably going to saddle a lot of Americans with a mandate to purchase insurance they can’t afford. Sounds like a win for insurers. 

Even if a reconciled health care reform bill passes, the fight for affordable and accessible health care for all Americans must continue.

Video: Associated Press, Dems Drop Gov’t-run Health Care Plan

Open Enrollment for the “widest selection of health plans in the country”

Why I take health care reform personally and you should too

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54 comments

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3:29PM PST on Dec 29, 2009

where doomed anyways

11:09AM PST on Dec 24, 2009

Jaime J,

The definition of greed has changed. The old definition was craving or desiring to possess something beyond what you deserve. The new definition of greed is wanting to keep what you own or believing that you own anything.

Selfish has also been redefined. It used to mean doing what you want to do, not considering others, and caring only about yourself. Now selfishness is defined as the act of not allowing somebody to have your stuff and true selfishness is the act of not helping others take stuff that is owned by third parties. Actually, if you have a concept of private property or private ownership, then under the new dictionary of the powers that be, you are selfish.

These words were redefined years ago when we adopted a regressive tax system that forces a higher percentage tax on people as they make more. In a flat tax, people pay more as they make more, but that wasn't enough. The Congress created the income tax in 1913 and since then it is easy to understand why some believe that people who make more should not only pay more but also pay a higher percentage of what they do make. Now, about 50% of people pay taxes, the other 50% do not have to pay any income taxes. They are the least selfish of all.

Now that you have the new definitions, you can see how greedy and selfish you are!

Loved your comment and the Frodo reference. We should consider a contest to name the current politician most similar to Wormtongue!

Merry Christmas!

8:58AM PST on Dec 24, 2009

Leia, I would agree with you about fantasy mirroring reality; however the superman analogy is a bit much to compare Obama to. And in true literature, the hero is never a superhero, but an ordinary character who does extraordinary things (Frodo). We have had a few presidents that have lived up to that definition, but none in the past few elections.

Honestly, I would love to see someone in office who can manage a bank account responsibly, and not continue to try to use credit and spending to solve basic cyclical problems. If you are so ticked off at the "greed", then why not let the greedy fail instead of bailing them out? The only way to solve the problems is to let people realize their mistakes; yeah, I know, lots of people suffer, but in the long run, we learn.

Now, instead we are going to pass a health care bill with MORE control over the people by requiring them to have insurance (that's bogus). Micromanaging people's lives is not the answer; they want to ban my snakes, they want to ban my firearms, they want to require me to have health insurance, they want me to pay for other people who can't afford health insurance...NO, I am not greedy, I just want what I earned and the freedom to do what I want with it! Why is that so difficult for people to understand?

5:25PM PST on Dec 17, 2009

In a fantasy world, all the Lex Luthors with their wealth and power would be overcome by "Truth, Justice and the American Way". These are the things Clark kent/Superman stood for. He stood for what was good in humanity. Obama tried to stand for these things but looks like he has chosen not to buck Big Industry. I believe his heart has been in the right place but just look at all he has had to come up against this year and the mess he inherited from the previous Republican administration, who supported all those Lex Luthors. I think he's exhausted! Too much kryptonite being hurled his way! Even heroes can be rendered powerless if the precise stuff is used against them. Fantasy stories like Superman can serve to illustrate realities we don't see or refuse to see. Americans threw their support and confidence in one man who campaigned on changing what was needed, including a broken health care system, but many have since given up on him. But one man, even if he is President (something we used to admire back when) can't expect to bring about the changes America voted fairly for without help. We know we can't count on Congress, and we lost a hero there last summer. (Teddy was a hero for many of us-not all-especially not the conservatives!) So who's left? Us. Last year America voted for change we can believe in. Forces are entrenched determined to stymie change because the status quo serves them. Greed has ruled for decades now. Where has it gotten the rest of us? Exactly!

12:01PM PST on Dec 17, 2009

Jason B,

That's pretty much the way I see it, with the only quibble being that Senator Obama was in Washington for four years and should have had a better idea than most first term President's of what would be happening in Washington, having had the opportunity to review and vote on all Senate legislation since 2005...

But, unfortunately, I totally agree with the rest of what you said. Funny how so little of it is still about the individual and all about the party and power. Rush is probably dancing, but with his contract for whatever it is per year, he probably dances a lot anyway.

11:53AM PST on Dec 17, 2009

Terrance and Paul,
Agreed that the big problem has been the continued increase in leverage that the corporate entities are able to exert on our government. Paul you said that the political candidate who can offer us an answer to deal with that problem will win their election; very true. I think this was one of the big points that Obama won the election on, whether justified or not he convinced a lot of people he could change the way things were done in Washington.

So far he's not really been able to deliver much in that respect. To his defense, he was handed a country in the middle of several messes, AND has pretty much been fighting an uphill battle while also being hobbled by the ultra conservative set. Very hard to say what might have been if these debates were underway during a time of economic prosperity, and without an ongoing and expensive war on terror to contend with as well.

I think that Obama is stuck in a tough spot, and the Republicans are looking to exploit this: he's made his big stand on health care reform, and I think he's now desperate to have something to show for it. If he can't "win" something on this, he'll have lost a lot of integrity and support from nearly all sides (I can hear Rush dancing in the streets right now)...

Meanwhile we the people, are all lined up on the sidelines rooting for our favorite team to deliver us some salvation from this mess, lobbing eggs (and rocks) back and forth at the other side.

10:02AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

Terrance, you asked the question that I think most American's would like answered. I believe that the candidate that addresses that question will win whether it is a congressional or Presidential contest.

9:54AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

I blame Obama most of all. When he took single payer (HR676) off the table, he was either very niave or he did this on behalf of the insurance company and big pharma.

To take your most strongest bargaining chip (single payer) off the table so soon is selling out early. If he had argued for single payer early, we have a better chance to get a public option.

I am tired of all this pandering to Wall street interest, pharmiceutical interest, health insurance interest, and anyone who flashes cash. Paying lip service to the peoples interest is tired.

The question is, when, how, and if is the American people going to take back our government from the corporate interest.

5:09AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

Thanks so much for this article!

8:56AM PST on Dec 15, 2009

Jason B, we do agree on at least 80%. The $100 was arbitrary and referred to prices back in the early 70s when HMO's were created by the Fed Gov't to reduce medical costs. Although the analogy may not work today, let me try to say it another way. The more parties that stand between the consumer and the provider, the more expensive the product or service will become. This includes Gov't. The reason why the Public Option will not work, in my opinion, is that like Medicare and other existing gov't programs, it will pump money into the health care system which will drive up prices.

We need to move away from the concept that preventive and regular medical care is something that should be covered by insurance. Except for the poor, ie., medicaid, the rest of us should plan to cover a physical every few years and our regular vaccinations and everyday doctor visits. Insurance should only cover extraordinary events, like hospital care, illnesses, surgical procedures, etc.

If the gov't was not pumping money into the system, the costs of that preventive care would not be so astronomical.

Just thought I'd try different verbage. We do totally agree that the existing plan is not good. Best regards

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