Friday, August 21, 2009

Get your facts straight!

Get your facts about health care reform here, compiled by mediamatters.

Based on a prior post, I'd like to draw you attention to Myth 10:

MYTH 10: Co-ops are an adequate substitute for a public option
CLAIM: The co-op "compromise" eliminates the need for the public option.
REALITY: Progressive experts argue public plan is necessary for successful reform. Numerous media figures and outlets have characterized Sen. Kent Conrad's (D-ND) cooperative health insurance proposal as a "compromise," "hybrid," or bipartisan "alternative" to a public insurance option without noting the view by progressive experts that a public option is necessary for health care reform to be successful and that any departure from that will result in the failure of reform efforts. These experts dispute suggestions that Conrad's co-op proposal is a plausible midway point between competing methods of addressing health care reform, because, they say, it precludes a fundamental component of effective reform: bargaining power against the health care industry. For example, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich described the co-op proposal as a "bamboozle" and said that "[n]onprofit health-care cooperatives won't have any real bargaining leverage to get lower prices because they'll be too small and too numerous. Pharma and Insurance know they can roll them. That's why the Conrad compromise is getting a good reception from across the aisle." And University of California-Berkeley professor Jacob Hacker argued that Conrad "has offered no reason to think that the cooperatives he envisions could do any of the crucial things that a competing public plan must do." Additionally, ABC's Charles Gibson reported that "several health care experts" have said, in Gibson's words, "[I]f you take out the public option in terms of insurance, there's going to be no restraints on the cost of insurance." [ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, 8/17/09]

Without a significant public option that would cover a sizable protion of the population with adequate bargaining power to lower prices, this reform would not accomplish much. Even if there is temptation to pass a watered down bill and declare victory, a failed reform would not bode well for Obama or dems at future elections.

A side point: it would be reasonable to expect that the new and cheaper public plan will absorb the previously unhealthy/uninsured and the lower-income groups that may be a proxy for bad health - a setup for the death spiral. However, the same may be assumed for Medicaid, but somehow it still costs much less and provides more care to its members than most private insurances. And what is the alternative to no competition and downward pressure on prices from the public option? Private insurance companies fueling profits on people's sufferings and fulfilling its goal of providing as little care as possible regardless of need, all the while passing costs on to consumers. I think the clear winner is some form of significant public competitor that will drive down costs and focuses on health and not profit, for once.

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