09 December 2009

Going, going, gone?

There has been a flurry of reports that the Senate is reaching a deal to remove the public option from its final health-care reform bill (links here), which would pretty much turn the reform into a mere meaningless sham. If the tighter abortion restrictions proposed by conservatives survive into the final deal, the reform will actually be a step backward and we'll be better off if it doesn't pass.

But -- not so fast. The details of the final deal have not been made public yet, and even if the public option is gone from the Senate version, it is still in the House version (although those abortion restrictions are there as well), and the two versions will need to be reconciled. We'll have to wait and see -- and be prepared to put pressure on legislators.

Update: According to some reports, the Senate version includes an expansion of Medicare eligibility to uninsured people between 55 and 65. If true, this could play the same role as a limited public option would have done: by competing with private insurance for at least some customers, it will put downward pressure on prices, and if it helps people, it will create political pressure to make it more widely available, eventually to everyone.

Also, the Medicare expansion would be available in 2010 rather than being delayed until 2014. Anything that won't take effect for four years is highly dubious -- that just means four years for the insurance companies to scheme and bribe legislators to get it canceled. If we can really get this, it might be better than a public option years in the future that might never materialize.

Update 2 (10 Dec. 2009): Other liberals are voicing the view that the Medicare expansion might actually be better than the weak public option that was being proposed.


Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

My only concern is, how is this going to help people who are younger than fifty? Maybe you know something I don't. Quite possible.

09 December, 2009 07:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It won't do anything for them directly, just as the originally-planned public option wouldn't do anything for the categories of people excluded from applying for it (which would be most people). What I'm hoping is that if it turns out to be popular, political pressure will grow to lower the age limit still further, just as a successful public option would create pressure to widen eligibility.

Being available earlier is a big issue too. How many people without insurance would die between 2010 and 2014?

09 December, 2009 08:15  

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