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The Progressive case to vote for the Senate Healthcare bill

physician thinking I’m still not sold on this Senate healthcare bill. I think it is a sorry excuse of a bill. Yet there are a few good things still in the bill that I can support. Here’s one point of view.

FromThink Progress:

Since Joe Lieberman demanded stripping the public option and Medicare buy-in provisions from the merged Senate bill, some strong progressives like Howard Dean have argued that without a public option or a Medicare buy-in provision, the bill is a giveaway to private insurers and should be killed. Other progressive leaders like Senators Jay Rockefeller, Tom Harkin and Sherrod Brown believe that the bill represents the best chance for passing health care reform in the foreseeable future. “I’m going to vote for it,” Brown told reporters. “I can’t imagine I wouldn’t. I mean there’s too much at stake.”

Change of the magnitude envisioned by health care reformers does not come easily. There have been many frustrations and there will be more. But, as a senior White House staffer with a ringside seat for the slow death of comprehensive care in 1994, I am keenly aware of the real alternative to the bills now before us: millions more Americans without health care and billions more for health care spending as the same challenges President Clinton tried to resolve continue to metastasize unchecked.

So while I have great respect for Governor Dean, and we have worked together to provide the strongest health care reform bill for the American people, I come down on the side of the Senate passing the bill.

Here’s why:

The Senate health care bill is not without its problems. But if enacted, it would represent the most significant public reform of our health care system that Congress has passed in the 40 plus years I have worked in politics. The bill will give health care coverage to a record 31 million Americans who are currently uninsured, lay a foundation that will begin to lower costs for millions of families, and provide all Americans with the access to adequate and dependable coverage when they need it most.

All of us are anxious to see the final language from the Senate. And a final bill must ensure that the subsidies provided are sufficient to make insurance truly affordable for working families. But based on what we know, here are my top ten reasons for why progressives should support the Senate passing the bill:

1. Largest Expansion Of Coverage Since Medicare’s Creation: Thirty-one million previously uninsured Americans will have insurance.

2. Low/Middle Income Americans Will Not Go Without Coverage: For low-income Americans struggling near the poverty line, the bill represents the largest single expansion of Medicaid since its inception. Combined with subsidies for middle income families, the bill’s provisions will ensure that working class Americans will no longer go without basic health care coverage.

3. Insurance Companies Will Never Be Able to Drop or Deny You Coverage Because You Are Sick: Insurers can no longer deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition. They can’t rescind coverage or impose lifetime or annual limits on care. Significantly, the bill also ends insurer discrimination against women — who currently pay as much as 48% morefor coverage than men — and gives them access preventive services with no cost sharing.

4. Lowers Premiums For Families: The Senate bill could lower premiums for the overall population by 8.4%. For the subsidized population, premiums would decrease even more dramatically. According to the CBO, “the amount that subsidized enrollees would pay for non-group coverage would be roughly 56 percent to 59 percent lower, on average than the nongroup premiums charged under current law.”

5. Invests in Keeping People Healthy: The bill creates a Prevention and Public Health Fund to expand and sustain funding for public prevention programs that prevent disease and promote wellness.

6. Insurers Can’t Offer Subprime Health Care: Insurers operating in the individual and small group markets will no longer sell subprime policies that deny coverage when illness strikes and you need it most. Everyone will be offered an essential benefits package of comprehensive benefits.

7. Helps Businesses Afford Coverage: Small employers can take advantage of large risk pools by purchasing coverage through the bill’s state-based exchanges. Employers with no more than 25 employees would receive a tax credit to help them provide coverage to their employees. The bill also establishes a temporary reinsurance program for employers providing coverage to retirees over the age of 55 who are not eligible for Medicare.

8. Improves Medicare: The bill eliminates the waste and fraud in the Medicare system, gets rid of the special subsidy to private insurers participating in Medicare Advantage and extends the life of the Medicare trust fund by 9 years. It also closes the doughnut hole that affected 3.4 seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D in 2008.

9. Reduces The Deficit: Not only would the bill expand coverage to 30 million Americans without adding to the nation debt, it would also reduce the deficit by up to $409 billion over 10 years.

10. Reduces National Health Spending: A CAP-Commonwealth Fund analysis concludes the bill could reduce overall spending by close to $683 billion over 10 years – with the potential to save families $2,500. Even the most conservative government estimates conclude that the bill would reduce national health care expenditures by at least 0.3% by 2019.

By |2009-12-16T22:13:28-04:00December 16th, 2009|Healthcare, Senate|Comments Off on The Progressive case to vote for the Senate Healthcare bill

The Errington Thompson Show – Special Healthcare Update (plus an addition)

I talk with Joan McCarter from the Daily Kos about what the heck is going on in the Senate. Joan has been following the ins and outs of the Healthcare legislation with posts two or three times per day.

This is clearly worth a listen.

Update from McJoan:

According to USA Today, there’s a new, influential voice pushing reconciliation to get a healthcare reform bill passed.

USA TODAY’s Washington bureau chief Susan Page reports that John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and the former head of President Obama’s transition, said some Democrats may be taking another look at the so-called reconciliation process, a budget procedure that would let Democrats pass a health care bill with only 51 votes….

The issue, Podesta said, is whether Lieberman “is trying to get to ‘no’ ” on health care. He said Democratic congressional leaders were surprised by Lieberman’s negative language Sunday on the emerging Democratic plan.

“I suspect musty folders on reconciliation got dusted off this morning” on Capitol Hill in the wake of Lieberman’s comments. “If you don’t have Lieberman and you don’t have Nelson, the question is whether you can get Snowe and Collins.” He said the Democrats were “very close” to 60 and might still be able to get there.

On Lieberman: “I’ve given up on him” — that is, on trying to figure out what he will do.

Snowe says that she’ll only support a bill if they slow things down (because being at the heart of negotiations in the Finance committee for the past year, and being one of the bipartisan Gang of Six that drug on, and on, and on, and on, and knowing this bill inside and out just hasn’t given her enough time to make up her mind). Collins isn’t going anywhere Snowe doesn’t go first. Nelson still wants his abortion amendment.

Figure out enough compromises to make any of the “moderates” happy enough to get to 60, and you risk losing progressives, particulary Brown (who personally invested a great deal in the compromise Lieberman just blew up), Sanders, Feingold, and Burris. You also risk losing a 218 majority in the House.

Let’s hope that those musty folders are being dusted off, because there very well may be no other way to achieve this. And let’s hope the issue compromises a large part of the discussion in the Senate Dem caucus meeting this afternoon.

By |2012-05-07T13:33:02-04:00December 14th, 2009|Healthcare, Podcasts, Senate|Comments Off on The Errington Thompson Show – Special Healthcare Update (plus an addition)

The Errington Thompson Show – Rep. Susan Fisher

Although I will have the whole show up on my blog soon, I wanted to post my interview with Rep. Susan Fisher.  She has done a great job representing North Asheville.  We talk about the budget woes.  We talk about alternatives to cutting services.  We also discuss some the bills that she has introduced in the House.  We talk about a bill called “Healthy Youth” which is an excellent bill on accurate sex education.  This is an excellent interview.  Enjoy.

You can contact Susan Fisher through her web site at or through her legislative office in Raleigh.

By |2012-05-07T16:38:36-04:00June 8th, 2009|Education, Podcasts, Rep. Susan Fisher, State and Local Politics|Comments Off on The Errington Thompson Show – Rep. Susan Fisher
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