Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Public Option

Sen. Harry Reid's decision to include a public insurance option in the merged Senate health bill is the story of the week, no doubt. Lots of angst and excitement. And Sen. Lieberman must be feeling neglected, but he has managed to make himself the center of attention. Earlier today he said he would vote to support a filibuster....and it wasn't clear if he meant a filibuster for a procedural motion to start the debate, or if he meant he would do so if it remained in after debate and amendments were done. Seems like the latter, that he will vote to start debate, but says he will vote to filibuster final passage if public option stays in. Of course, this is a good way to get yourself lots of power.

It seems there are several possibilities/
1. Reid thinks it is the best thing and is willing to take a chance for public option.
2. Reid knows it will go down, but needs to placate liberals. Bring it up, it goes down, modify the bill and then move ahead. Who knows maybe they bring it up, Repubs filibuster and get it out of their system say the Dems are destroying western culture as we know it etc etc and Dems say they are Neanderthals and later pass bill without it.
3. This is part of a House/Senate compromise that is designed to hopefully get the House to accept tax on health insurance plans (Senate approach) than the income tax increase financing mechanism in House bills.
4. This is a mistake.

I think med malpractice reform coming in is only way for the public option to have any chance. There are some rumours of a 'surprise' being in the Senate bill (I haven't seen text anywhere?) and perhaps this is medical malpractice reform. Especially given CBOs recent scoring of package of national reforms that have been tried in some states to reduce deficit by $51 Billion over 10 years.

Also, the funniest thing about all this is that the 'level playing field' public option in which govt insurance negotiates rates will most likely not be that successful. Savings would come from Medicare rates or Medicare + 5% or something like that....both sides are greatly over stating the actual effect of the type of public option that seems to be under consideration.

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