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Dems Offer Compromise on Proposed Government-run Insurance Program.

by Martin Trussell

Time moves quickly inside the Beltway. It was just last week that Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told a press briefing that Congressional leaders “will get to this a little later,” referencing the creation of any new government-run insurance program.

Apparently “a little later” was yesterday when Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, proposed that any new government-run insurance program comply with all the rules and standards that apply to private insurance.

The New York Times said that the proposal was made in a bid to address fears that a public program would drive private insurers from the market. It added that this was an attempt by Democrats in Congress to shift the debate from the question of whether to create a public health insurance plan to the question of how it would work.

The Times reported that the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus, had asked Schumer to seek a solution to the public plan issue that would be acceptable to the Obama administration as well as Republican leaders and the insurance industry. In his response, Mr. Schumer set forth these principles:

  • The public plan must be self-sustaining. It should pay claims with money raised from premiums and co-payments. It should not receive tax revenue or appropriations from the government.
  • The public plan should pay doctors and hospitals more than what Medicare pays. Medicare rates, set by law and regulation, are often lower than what private insurers pay.
  • The government should not compel doctors and hospitals to participate in a public plan just because they participate in Medicare.
  • To prevent the government from serving as both “player and umpire,” the officials who manage a public plan should be different from those who regulate the insurance market.

In addition, the Times reported that Schumer said the public plan should be required to establish a reserve fund, just as private insurers must maintain reserves for the payment of anticipated claims. And he said the public plan should be required to provide the same minimum benefits as private insurers.

This sounds to this blogger as if the Democratic leadership has made the first step to find a compromise solution on one major issue now separating the two sides in this debate. Still, as the Times article points out, some thorny questions remain. Could states tax the premiums of a public plan, as they tax private insurance premiums? Would the public plan have to comply with state laws, as private insurers do? Would the government ever allow the public plan to become insolvent?

Alas, the biggest question may be whether the insurance industry will ever accept a public plan of any kind. The Times reported that Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, responded to the Schumer plan by saying, “We are very, very grateful that members of Congress have been thoughtfully looking at our concerns.” But she said she still saw no need for a public plan “if you have much more aggressive regulation of insurance,” which the industry has agreed to support.

This chess match will continue for a while, but keep in mind the Democrats are in the position to end the game their way this fall through the budget resolution passed last week allowing them to consider healthcare reform legislation without the threat of a filibuster.


2 Comments »

  jacksmith wrote @ May 5th, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Swine flu (A-H1N1) and Healthcare In America

Well my fellow Americans, and people of the World. That was yet another very close potential catastrophe. Especially for those of us that live in America with our busted, greed driven, private for profit healthcare system. What ever you do World. Don’t copy our current healthcare system.

If that virus (A-H1N1) had emerged just a few months earlier our busted healthcare system in America would have collapsed. Just like our economy almost did. And hundreds of thousands more Americans, if not millions would have needlessly lost their lives. As hospital ER’s became choked with the sick, and dying.

All on top of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who needlessly lose their lives in America each year from a rush to profit by the private for profit healthcare industry. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured, and uninsured. Men Women, Children, and Babies.

This was yet another big WAKE-UP! call for America, and for our Government. It’s time for Congress to end the debate. And stop dancing around the issues of how they can continue to try and justify protecting the private for profit healthcare industry, and the private for profit healthcare insurance industry. These industries are killing hundreds of thousands of Americans every year in America, and endangering our National security.

“the health-care system is, first and foremost, for the American people—not the companies that profit from it.” (Tom Daschle | NEWSWEEK)

IT’S OVER! The Private for profit healthcare experiment in America is dead. It FAILED! And it was a DISASTER!

“NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Is the ONLY! way to go.

Essentially HR676 (enhanced, and expanded medicare for all). Just like every other CIVILIZED! country in the developed World has. There is no other way to truly fix or reform our current disastrous healthcare delivery system. NONE!

Congress, fix our healthcare crisis while you still have time.

President Obama, VP Biden, the Obama administration and the rest of his advisors, along with Speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid are doing an excellent job of protecting you. And also an excellent job of representing you and the best interest of the World. But it’s time for the rest of Congress to get on board.

To those of you who keep standing up and fighting for single-payer universal healthcare for all. YOU! are Americas true HEROES! And I am proud of you. :-) Don’t let up.

I will have more to say about this VERY! unusual virus (A-H1N1), and flu in general, later. There are some things you really need to know and think about… All of you.

Till then, God Bless And Keep You All

Jack Smith — Working Class

  Alex wrote @ May 12th, 2009 at 4:58 pm

With over $1.1B in stimulus spending, I think Comparative Effectiveness Research will be incorporated into national health care reform policy in some capacity going forward. You can see from this video my firm’s thoughts on CER. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTkVuUFU0ys

- Alex

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