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Old 08-17-2009, 09:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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White House appears ready to drop 'public option'

WASHINGTON (AP) - Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Barack Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.

Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession probably would enrage Obama's liberal supporters but could deliver a much-needed victory on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.

Officials from both political parties reached across the aisle in an effort to find compromises on proposals they left behind when they returned to their districts for an August recess. Obama had wanted the government to run a health insurance organization to help cover the nation's almost 50 million uninsured, but didn't include it as one of his three core principles of reform.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said, a sign that Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory.

Under a proposal by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., consumer-owned nonprofit cooperatives would sell insurance in competition with private industry, not unlike the way electric and agriculture co-ops operate, especially in rural states such as his own.

With $3 billion to $4 billion in initial support from the government, the co-ops would operate under a national structure with state affiliates, but independent of the government. They would be required to maintain the type of financial reserves that private companies are required to keep in case of unexpectedly high claims.

"I think there will be a competitor to private insurers," Sebelius said. "That's really the essential part, is you don't turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing."

Obama's spokesman refused to say a public option was a make-or-break choice.

"What I am saying is the bottom line for this for the president is, what we have to have is choice and competition in the insurance market," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday.

A day before, Obama appeared to hedge his bets.

"All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform," Obama said at a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colo. "This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."

Lawmakers have discussed the co-op model for months although the Democratic leadership and the White House have said they prefer a government-run option.

Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called the argument for a government-run public plan little more than a "wasted effort." He added there are enough votes in the Senate for a cooperative plan.

"It's not government-run and government-controlled," he said. "It's membership-run and membership-controlled. But it does provide a nonprofit competitor for the for-profit insurance companies, and that's why it has appeal on both sides."

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Obama's team is making a political calculation and embracing the co-op alternative as "a step away from the government takeover of the health care system" that the GOP has pummeled.

"I don't know if it will do everything people want, but we ought to look at it. I think it's a far cry from the original proposals," he said.

Republicans say a public option would have unfair advantages that would drive private insurers out of business. Critics say co-ops would not be genuine public options for health insurance.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said it would be difficult to pass any legislation through the Democratic-controlled Congress without the promised public plan.

"We'll have the same number of people uninsured," she said. "If the insurance companies wanted to insure these people now, they'd be insured."

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said the Democrats' option would force individuals from their private plans to a government-run plan, a claim that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office supports.

"There is a way to get folks insured without having the government option," he said.

A shift to a cooperative plan would certainly give some cover to fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats who are hardly cheering for the government-run plan.

"The reality is that it takes 60 percent to get this done in the Senate. It's probably going to have to be bipartisan in the Senate, which I think it should be," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., who added that the proposals still need changes before he can support them.

Obama, writing in Sunday's New York Times, said political maneuvers should be excluded from the debate.

"In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain," he wrote. "But for all the scare tactics out there, what's truly scary - truly risky - is the prospect of doing nothing."

Congress' proposals, however, seemed likely to strike end-of-life counseling sessions. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has called the session "death panels," a label that has drawn rebuke from her fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, declined to criticize Palin's comments and said Obama wants to create a government-run panel to advise what types of care would be available to citizens.

"In all honesty, I don't want a bunch of nameless, faceless bureaucrats setting health care for my aged citizens in Utah," Hatch said.

Sebelius said the end-of-life proposal was likely to be dropped from the final bill.

"We wanted to make sure doctors were reimbursed for that very important consultation if family members chose to make it, and instead it's been turned into this scare tactic and probably will be off the table," she said.

Sebelius spoke on CNN's "State of the Union" and ABC's "This Week." Gibbs appeared on CBS'"Face the Nation." Conrad and Shelby appeared on "Fox News Sunday." Johnson, Price and Ross spoke with "State of the Union." Hatch was interviewed on "This Week."
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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score one for progress!

. . . or something
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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its sad because the health insurance companies have basically forced this on our country.... real sad how selfish and ignorant people are
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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im just glad we came to our senses.
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Old 08-17-2009, 04:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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For one, they never said they were dropping it...yet.

For two, it will be added eventually. This is obviously just to cool the tantrums of the republicans who whined and teared up about 'losing their country.' Eventually, progress encroaches and they will be usurped. I assume he had to propose the public option as an extreme starting point and dwindle down from there. I'm sure Obama didn't expect this to be pushed through without any major concessions. Sadly, the concessions had to come through people out-shouting cool-headed town hall meetings and horribly atrocious accusations like Death Panels and killing off the elderly. I guess there's just enough fear left in 'Pugs to try and ensure we never leave the 18th century.

Ironically, if the Government simply decides to reform the private sector, that's just the same as the 'big government' that the 'Pugs are trying to hold back. But hey, what you resist, persists.
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Old 08-17-2009, 08:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sadly, the concessions had to come through people out-shouting cool-headed town hall meetings and horribly atrocious accusations like Death Panels and killing off the elderly. I guess there's just enough fear left in 'Pugs to try and ensure we never leave the 18th century.

Ironically, if the Government simply decides to reform the private sector, that's just the same as the 'big government' that the 'Pugs are trying to hold back. But hey, what you resist, persists.
whats even more sad is there are enough retarded GOP/Conservatives that don't do their own research (or thinking for that matter) to understand facts, and realize how obvious Palin and her cronies lies were.

I feel bad for the people who call themselves fiscal conservatives, who think that all this reform is going to kill the country, when facts blatantly point out that our countries economy is headed for collapse again if we don't fix the health care/insurance problem. Its just so damn obvious its retarded.


Socialism. NOOOOOO!!!! Ok, soooo which countries with public health care are socialist? Canada? The UK? Hm, didn't think so.
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but I do show—thanks to a lot of in-depth interviews with GOP sources—how they plotted to obstruct Obama before he even took office. I show how the stimulus was chock full of stuff they claimed to support until Jan. 20, 2009—not just things like health IT and the smart grid and energy efficiency and scientific research, but the very idea of Keynesian stimulus. Every presidential candidate in 2008 proposed a stimulus package, and Mitt Romney’s was the largest.
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Old 08-17-2009, 10:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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i like how being continues to be judgemental assuming that the only reason people disagree with him is because they are selfishly out for their own well being.


i like it because i basically figured a few days ago when he was talking about going to change the kids diapers or some shit that he was one of these people looking for handouts. and every post hes made since has convinced me that hes just damn pissed that he wont be getting his handouts, and doesnt know who to blame other than "retarded gops".
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Old 08-18-2009, 06:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yeah, everyone who has to change a diaper must be looking for a handout. Good connect. As a matter of fact everyone here who favors a public option must be looking for a handout, right? Man, you can say some ridiculous shit.
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yeah, everyone who has to change a diaper must be looking for a handout. Good connect. As a matter of fact everyone here who favors a public option must be looking for a handout, right? Man, you can say some ridiculous shit.
that would be basically exactly the opposite of the ridiculous charge that he keeps making at our side right?


word, seeing as i didnt say it, glad to see you can see how ridiculous it is for someone who disagrees with the conservative side to call them all greedy and selfish and trying to keep their own money. (as if theres something wrong with that anyway)
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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that would be basically exactly the opposite of the ridiculous charge that he keeps making at our side right?


word, seeing as i didnt say it, glad to see you can see how ridiculous it is for someone who disagrees with the conservative side to call them all greedy and selfish and trying to keep their own money. (as if theres something wrong with that anyway)
Your side? You mean like "your" VP candidate from the last election talking about death panels?
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:14 AM   #11 (permalink)
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i thought this was all about power. i guess they're dropping this for a more ambitious enslavement program amirite?
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:17 AM   #12 (permalink)
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i thought this was all about power. i guess they're dropping this for a more ambitious enslavement program amirite?
Someone needs to sweep the floors of the FEMA camps....
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:23 AM   #13 (permalink)
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There floating the idea to stir the pot in hopes of seeing the supporters come out of the woodwork. methink
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:21 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Excerpts from the email from Richard Kirsch, national organizer for HCAN (Health Care for America Now) Campaign

Re: The Rumors of the Public Option’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated
DT: 8/18/09

On Monday the papers said that the public option was dead. On Tuesday the papers said it was alive after all, with Democrats rallying to its rescue. What does this all mean for the strategy to win health care reform that meets the HCAN principles?

The Sunday Storm
What actually did happen on Sunday that led papers around the country to declare that the public option was on life support, if not dead? Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, in a Sunday morning interview in which she defended the need for a public option multiple times said, “it is not the essential element.” The press corps put that together with a comment on a separate Sunday show by Senator Kent Conrad, who said that there aren’t enough votes in the Senate for a public option, and declared its demise.

But nothing actually happened. There was no change in the White House position. There was no change in the Senate Finance Committee negotiations. And Senator Conrad continued to express his view, and only his view, of counting votes in the Senate.

The White House Position
A few hours after the Sebelius comment, the White House put out a statement that read: “The president has always said that what is essential is that health insurance reform must lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals.” The next day in a press conference, Robert Gibbs, the President’s spokesperson, reiterated what the White House has always said: The President wants a public option; he’s open to other ideas that meet those goals and keep the legislative process moving; he has no specific policy bottom lines.

The press accounts about the demise of the public option ignore the fact that the four committees that have enacted reform all include a national public option and that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that no reform will pass the House without a public option. And then there’s that block of 60 House members who have said they won’t vote for reform without the public option.
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:26 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Your side? You mean like "your" VP candidate from the last election talking about death panels?
you're just pissed that sarah palin actually did something that wasnt completely clusterfuckingly retarded for a change.
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:29 PM   #16 (permalink)
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^ unless you mean abandon her constituents i'm not sure i follow
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:53 PM   #17 (permalink)
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you're just pissed that sarah palin actually did something that wasnt completely clusterfuckingly retarded for a change.


I thought you were loopy when it came to defending Bushy boy...but this takes the cake.
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:09 PM   #18 (permalink)
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hey i did say "for a change"
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:44 PM   #19 (permalink)
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you're just pissed that sarah palin actually did something that wasnt completely clusterfuckingly retarded for a change.
I thought she outdid herself. Death panels? Fucking death panels?
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Old 08-19-2009, 08:55 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Another good article by Steven Pearlstein

Steven Pearlstein continues to be my favorite columnist at The Washington Post. He's written a number of intelligent, centrist pieces on health care reform that criticize idiocy on both side of the debate. Today's piece is no exception.

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It's Time to Give Up On the Public Option


By Steven Pearlstein
Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Enough already with the public option!

It is not the be-all and end-all of health-care reform. It is not the long-awaited safety net for the uninsured. And if, as many liberals hope, it turns out to be nothing more than Medicare for All, it won't do anything to hold down long-term growth in health spending.

The public option is nothing more than a political litmus test imposed on the debate by left-wing politicians and pundits who don't want to be bothered with the real-life dynamics of the health-care market. It is the Maginot Line of health-care policy, and just like those stubborn French generals, liberal Democrats have vowed to defend it even if it means losing the war.

So there was Howard Dean, the former Democratic Party chairman, over the weekend declaring that health reform without a public option simply isn't worth doing. My colleague Ezra Klein pointed out on his must-read blog that Dr. Dean's fascination with a public option is rather recent since it was nowhere to be found in the reform plan he proposed when running for president in 2004.

Or how about MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who opined that the failure to deliver on a public option would represent nothing less than the "collapse of political ambition" for American liberalism?

The public option has become for the left what "death panels" have become for the right -- an easily understood metaphor that can be used to wage an ideological war over the issue of Big Government, and mostly a sideshow.

The case for a public option begins with the unassailable observation that our system of private health care and health insurance has not been effective in restraining the growth of medical expenditures.

Some of that cost growth has to do with an aging population and technological gains that have dramatically increased the number of cures and treatments. But those same cost drivers can be found in other advanced countries, including those with government-run health-care systems.

Liberals have a point when they argue that the price competition in our private markets is something less than robust.

Because consumers don't pay out of pocket for much of their health care, they don't shop around for bargains the way they do for cars or toilet paper. Nor is it clear that people would flock to the heart surgeon in town who advertises bargain-basement rates.

Competition is also imperfect because many regions of the country have dominant hospital chains that can virtually dictate rates to private insurers. You simply could not offer a competitive insurance product in Northern Virginia, for example, if Inova's Fairfax Hospital weren't in your network. And in many rural communities, there's only one hospital.

Drug companies have monopoly pricing power for drugs under patent for which there is no substitute. Ditto for medical-equipment makers with the latest imaging machines or artificial hip joints.

One goal of health-care reform is to begin to address these market imperfections. But there's no particular evidence that a government-run insurance plan will be any more successful than what we currently get from big private insurers -- unless, of course, the government-run plan is so big or so powerful that it can dictate prices to providers, as Medicare now does. Proposing that, however, would immediately unite doctors, hospitals and drug companies in opposing reform.

You also hear the argument that government-run insurance would have lower costs because it wouldn't have to generate a profit (that's true) and would be more efficient than private insurers (that isn't). The evidence of greater efficiency is Medicare, which spends about 2 to 3 percent of its budget on administration. But if a government-run plan had to spend its own money to collect premiums, market itself to customers, maintain a reserve, and manage care in a way that lowers costs and raises quality -- none of which Medicare now does -- then you can be sure its administrative costs would be nowhere near 2 or 3 percent.

In sum, there is nothing about having one government-owned health insurance company that is likely to change the competitive dynamic and bring costs under control.

That's not to say there aren't other things we could do -- many fixes are already included in bills before Congress. These include the government-sponsored health-care exchanges that would bring national insurance companies to nearly every market in the country and proposals to begin paying doctors and hospitals for the quality of the health care they provide rather than the quantity. There is also a provision requiring that companies participating in the new insurance exchanges use no more than 15 cents of each premium dollar for administrative costs and profits.

Finally, there are the government-chartered cooperatives that key members of the Senate Finance Committee are pushing. Although public-option enthusiasts scoff at the idea, the experiences of a number of communities show that cooperatives could significantly contain costs, provided the cooperatives are big enough and built around networks of hospitals and physician practices that accept a fixed, annual fee for treating patients rather than billing for every procedure. The key isn't that the cooperatives would be not-for-profit, but that the annual payments would give doctors and hospitals a financial incentive to control costs, better coordinate care, and eliminate procedures with little or no benefit.

A few other ideas not in any bill but worth considering: To address the pricing power of the big hospital chains, the government could require that they offer the same set of prices to all private insurers. Congress could also toughen antitrust laws to make it more difficult for hospitals in the same region to merge and require the breakup of chains that charge rates that are significantly higher than in other markets.

To bring down drug prices, Medicare could cap what it is willing to pay for any drug at 150 percent of the average price paid by other industrialized countries, where governments negotiate prices that are significantly lower. That would become a new benchmark for what private-pharmacy benefit managers would pay.

Such approaches would not only be better policy than a public option, they'd also be better politics. By insisting on a government-run plan, liberals have played right into the hands of Republicans who aim to defeat any reform by mischaracterizing it as a government takeover.

If there is anything that's been made clear over the last two weeks, it is that the public option is a political non-starter that threatens the entire reform effort. It's time to let it go.
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