Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Health Care Reform, Compromised

At least he's consistent. At a DNC fundraiser in Connecticut last week, President Obama yukked it up:

Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particularly derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven't yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)

On Monday night at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia, according to Jake Tapper, the President remarked

when I hear Democrats griping and groaning and saying, ‘Well, you know, the health care plan didn’t have a public option;’ and I don’t know, ‘The financial reform -- there was a provision here that I think we should have gotten better’; or, ‘You know what, yes, you ended the war in Iraq, the combat mission there, but you haven’t completely finished the Afghan war yet’; or this or that or the other -- I say, folks, wake up.

Those silly Democrats- believing what Barack Obama said during the campaign about health care! Imagine that- pushing for a public option when other reforms, with little regulation, will make keep the insurance companies honest and caring.

Maybe not. The Denver Post reports

Health-insurance companies are raising rates in Colorado, ending sales of child-only policies and blaming their actions in part on the federal health reform law, moves that regulators call "bizarre" and consumer advocates are vowing to watch....

At least six major companies — including Anthem, Aetna, Cigna and Humana — have said they will stop writing new policies for individual children not covered by their parents' or other plans, insurance officials said.

They blamed health reform mandates taking effect Thursday requiring companies that write such policies as of that date to also cover sick children up to age 19.

Some of the same insurers, meanwhile, have filed proposed rate increases with Colorado for individual policies, hiking premiums by up to 27 percent, regulators said.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a 2,400 page (albeit with large font, triple spacing, wide side margins) document. Although Republicans used the length of the bill to gin up opposition to the legislation, a piece of such length is a boon to lawyers and the bane of regulators. There are likely to be more loopholes than effective regulations.

Senator Bernie Sanders' single-payer bill, which eventually was pulled by the author when Senator Coburn (R-OK) threatened to exploit it as a delaying tactic, was 767 pages long, simpler, and would have averted the problem of private insurers refusing to write policies for children- as well as, obviously, soaring insurance prices for their policies.

As Firedoglake's Jon Walker wrote Tuesday

Democrats actually chose to expand coverage to millions by forcing them to buy insurance exclusively from these same misbehaving private companies. If Democrats really believe the job of the government is to insure every American, then they should have had the government do it directly–and more cost effectively–through expanding Medicare for all or a public option, instead of outsourcing it to untrustworthy private insurers that put profits before people.

Yet, hours after the Denver Post report, the President quips "Well, you know, the health care plan didn’t have a public option." No, it doesn't; and the private insurance companies have no competition, face inadequate regulation, and are making the President's critics on the left look prescient and the President himself, a little foolish.

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