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Monday, December 7, 2009

Latest Health Care Wolf In Sheep's Clothing Inside A Trojan Horse

The latest Democratic ploy to get to a single-payer system is a wolf in sheep's clothing hidden inside a Trojan horse.

According to reports, "moderate" and "liberal" Democrats are proposing a massive expansion of Medicare and Medicaid as a substitute for a "public option":

Senate Democratic liberals are seeking expansion of two large federal programs, Medicare and Medicaid, in exchange for dropping a government-sold insurance option from health care legislation sought by President Barack Obama, several lawmakers said Monday.

Under the potential trade-off with party moderates, near-retirees beginning at age 55 or 60 who lack affordable insurance would be permitted to purchase coverage under Medicare, which generally provides medical care beginning at 65. Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, would be open to all comers under 300 percent of poverty, or slightly over $66,000 for a family of four.

This supposed compromise is no compromise. It's the whole ballgame, as this blogger at DailyKos recognizes:

Many progressives have been arguing for years that Medicare expansion is the smartest, most efficient way to start expanding coverage.... Would this be an acceptable substitute for a real public option? It doesn't reform the healthcare system by providing real competition to private insurers. But it would provide a model to grow on, bringing with it the possibility of eventually getting to Medicare for all, the model that many progressives have been advocating for years.

A complete victory for those who want to a single-payer system being framed as a compromise because a public option could not pass because people do not want the public option to lead to a single-payer system.

Only in this Congress could such a thing even be discussed seriously.

A Little Relief from the Congressional Insanity: Sunday Morning Dance Party

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  1. Hmmm....Eligibility age for 'S-CHIP' goes UP....age for eligibility for Medicare goes DOWN.

    Perhaps this is a 'stealth' public option that could be fully implemented in about the same time frame as the present 'public option' plan.

  2. ironhoramn - of course this is a "stealth" public option. And the cost of this option would be beneath that the private insurance companies and just as effectively put them out of business as the previous predatory piece of scatalogical public "option."

    Meanwhile, while the focus is on health care, talk about "stealth," Barney Frank is quietly tinkering with money and markets and has come up with an amendment to a fiscal reform bill that would re-structure the Fed. Additionally, he would like TARP funds to help the mortgage situation. see http://samandimp.wordpress.com under "Barney Frank Can't Stop Tinkering with Money and Markets.

  3. The basically insane but long-standing loan policy of the Dems is to force banks to grant mortgages to those whose records clearly show that they are the kind of folks who are unwilling or unable to pay off mortgages. This policy continues in effect even though it was one of the main causes of the recession we so much enjoy today. Frank is working like hell to expand on this great achievement.

  4. I hate everything about this so-called HC "reform," but please help me to understand something: How is an expansion of Medicare to folks age 55 or 60 "a complete victory" for advocates of single payer? With a "strong" public option -- I'm also not clear on what makes a public option weak or strong -- you would likely see employers immediately starting to dump workers onto Obamacare, thus decimating the market for private health insurance and wrecking that industry. The proposed expansion of Medicare would presumably have the same kind of effect, but it would only apply to a relatively small slice of the population, i.e., those in either the 55-64 or 60-64 age groups. Perhaps the loss of a lot of people in those age consorts would be a tipping point for private insurance, and of course there's always the risk that the age eligibility would be reduced again in the future; but Medicare expansion wouldn't be as bad NOW as a public option, and certainly not nearly as awful as an outright single payer would be. What am I missing?

    Asked another way: If lowering the age for Medicare from 65 to 60 would be tantamount to a single-payer system, would the same be true for age 61? Okay, how about age 64 and 6 months? Again, I realize that this is all a slippery slope to eventually get everyone onto some form of public health care, but is it really true that every single point along the slippery slope is just as bad as the others?

  5. @Conrad - Lower the age on Medicare, raise the family income qualifications for Medicare, S-Chip and general health care subsidies into the high 5-figures, who's left not receiving government funded care? And what then would be the justification for not extending government funding to this remaining group, when so many other people are getting it?

  6. I agree it's a nightmare and that it would represent another big step toward fully-socialized medicine, but I think if forced to choose between the proposed expansion of Medicare and a public option that would threaten to immediately kill off the private health insurance industry, I'd have to take the former. And I would take either one ahead of single payer.

    At this point, I fear that the "best" alternative (assuming Reid can get 60 votes on some kind of bill) is whatever "reform" can most readily be undone by a future Congress. Since I believe the best health care system is the one with the least amount of government involvement, I think it makes sense to favor whichever alternative that at least doesn't destroy the private insurance industry over any alternatives that would, in fact, destroy that industry.

    Clearly, none of these proposals is going to "work." They all involve shifting costs around and adding layers of bureaucracy that can only drive costs higher. Some lucky people will come out somewhat better in the reshuffling, but there won't be any net improvement and most people will be ultimately dissatisfied with the results. What happens then? Hopefully, people wil wake up and realize that the system is broken BECAUSE of the government and we can rally support for some sensible, market-based reforms.