Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Elite Ignorance on Health Care?

Jonathan Gruber is a health economist from MIT -- an expert, no doubt. David Leonhardt quotes his favorable comment on the Senate health care bill: "I can’t think of a thing to try that they didn’t try."

Leonhardt, apparently, never bothered to ask him about single payer.


TheTrucker said...

It was felt that a single payer bill would _NOT_ make it through the current bought and paid for United States Senate. Such legislation would clear the House of Representatives if every left wing organization in the country were to march in the streets. But it was determined by the powers that be that there is no hope that such legislation would make it through the Senate.

The Public Option will be poisoned by the Senate to make it fail or the Senate bill will not have the Public Option. The Senate will also poison the financing of the subsidies. But let us assume that a bill will be passed by the Senate Democrats with their 60 vote majority. And let us assume that in order to pass it, it will be passed without the public option.

I do not know what happens when the Senate and House versions are "reconciled". Is the resulting bill subject to cloture rules or is it a reconciliation bill?????????? If the later is the case then it seems to me that the Public Option needs only to be in the reconciled bill and hence, not need a 60 vote majority. But I don't really know the rules

What I do know is this:

Cloture has been an will remain _USELESS_ to the "cat herding" Democratic Party. And now is the time to get rid of it.

Bruce Webb said...

There was never a serious Single Payer Plan in play, the much touted HR676 being on inspection purely aspirational. There were elements in it that were flat out impossible in anything like the current political environment. For example the Bill provided for unlimited free health dental and vision care with no-copays for everyone in America and made it clear that included all undocumented workers, whether or not they were working. That was a bridge too far.

As was the requirement that all for profit health care providers convert to non-profit status with investors compensated at rates determined by the government with no allowance for lost profits. Which is just nationalization under another name. And as written this would include every dentist, optical shop and pharmacy in the country.

But the final evidence that this bill was not serious is that it identified three sources of revenue: income tax surcharge on the top 5%, a 'modest' increase in payroll tax, and a 'small' tax on stock transactions all without specific levels set. Meaning the bill could not be scored by CBO and so couldn't seriously be considered as an Amendment by Substitution for HR3962 at that penultimate stage.

Now there was an actual piece of existing Single Payer legislation that could have been introduced, it was the April 2007 Kennedy-Dingell Medicare for All Bill. Kennedy and Dingell CHOSE not to use their own bill as a starting point in 2009 and I have a hard time thinking this was because of some late life conversion to shills for the insurance agency.

Politics is the art of the possible and I am willing to give Kennedy and Dingell the benefit of the doubt on this one and so agree with Gruber.

Michael Perelman said...

Interesting, Bruce. Others have discussed gradually lowering the age of medicare. That should not take a complex law -- only a willingness to fund it rather than wars.

Barkley Rosser said...

One of those easy ways to universl health care not pursued seriously, although mentioned occasionally, has been to simply make medicare universal.