Monday, August 17

Dr. Howard Dean : Co-Ops DON'T WORK!

Here's the point that needs to be drilled into Kent Conrad and Evan Bayh's (whose wife is on the board of Wellpoint) Skull. Co-Ops simply won't get the job done, because they can be so easily bought up and taken over by private insurers the way that Blue Cross/Blue Shield has been.

Dean: If you don't have a Public Option (like the ability to buy-in to Medicare) you don't have Health Care Reform

Here's Kent Conrad on Co-Ops vs Dean:

The number one argument being used against the Public Insurance Option is the idea that it will drive Private Insurance Out of Business - an argument that is easily debunked by the fact that we already have public options such as Medicare and the VA which work quite well and in many ways hand in hand with Private Health Care providers.

As the President Said: The Post Office hasn't put Fed Ex or DHL out of business and neither will a Public Health Insurance Option. Public Schools haven't ended the viability of Private Schools has it? On the other hand if all we had were Private Schools, do you think everyone could afford to go? I don't.

Second point, if the Private Insurers simply can't compete - what do we need them for? Nostalgia?

But here I have a better example than the Post Office, in California the losses that various Insurance Companies took following the Northridge Earthquake caused them to start either pulling out of the state or refusing to offer Earthquake insurance. They started treating California - Like it had a PRE-EXISTING CONDITION.

In response, the State of California began offering their own Earthquake Insurance Plan - they own Public Option - California Earthquake Authority. It's wasn't a case where the Public Earthquake Insurance drove the Private insurance companies out - they were already gone.

(Full Disclosure: My Wife worked for USAA Insurance in LA during the time of the Northridge Quake and saw what I'm describing first hand, and also one of my oldest friends works in the upper echelon's of the CEA in Sacramento)

The next argument though is the most spurious and frankly fantastical - that since the Public Option is "Free" - individual companies will simply stop paying for private health care and people will "lose access to the doctor of their choice".

That is frankly a complete LOAD OF CRAP propagated by people who simply haven't bothered to read the bill. What they're ignoring is the Health Care Exchange from HR 3200 as noted by

In July, Investor’s Business Daily published an editorial in which it claimed that H.R. 3200 would make private insurance illegal. But IBD was mistaken. It was citing the part of the bill that ensures people with individually purchased coverage don’t have to give up that coverage unless they want to.

Under the House bill, people who want to buy new individual, nongroup coverage will have to purchase it through a new health insurance exchange. They can still buy private insurance – the exchange, in fact, would offer a range of private plans, in addition to a new federal health insurance option. However, those who were already buying their own insurance before the bill went into effect – about 14 million Americans – will have their plans grandfathered in. The part of the bill IBD cites doesn’t forbid insurers from issuing new plans. It says that new individual plans will not be considered grandfathered, and will have to be purchased through the exchange.

Either private individuals or companies will be able to purchase insurance from the exchange which will include both Private Insurance Companies and Public Companies including (from my reading of the bill) Medicare for people to purchase.

The employer will be required to buy from the exchange and won't be able to cherry pick just the public option only because the exchange will by definition include everything and everyone will have access to it. No Rationing. None!

From HR 3200
Sec 201. (c) EXCHANGE-PARTICIPATING HEALTH BENEFITS PLAN DEFINED.—In this division, the term ‘‘Exchange- participating health benefits plan’’ means a qualified health benefits plan that is offered through the Health Insurance Exchange.

(a) ACCESS TO COVERAGE.—In accordance with this section, all individuals are eligible to obtain coverage through enrollment in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan offered through the Health Insurance Exchange unless such individuals are enrolled in another qualified health benefits plan or other acceptable coverage.

(1) EXCHANGE-ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUAL.—The term ‘‘Exchange-eligible individual’’ means an individual who is eligible under this section to be enrolled through the Health Insurance Exchange in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan and, with respect to family coverage, includes dependents of such individual.

(B) EMPLOYEE CHOICE.—Any employee offered Exchange-participating health benefits plans by the employer of such employee under subparagraph (A) may choose coverage under any such plan. That choice includes, with respect to family coverage, coverage of the dependents of such employee.

Now, it's possible the employers could drop all health care coverage (as companies such as WalMart continue to slide toward) and force their employees to buy it themselves directly, but if they do they will have to pay a 8% Tax which will help pay for the Public Insurance Option and also any person who can't afford to buy a plan (up to 400% above the poverty line) will receive subsidies for purchasing either a public or private plan via the exchange.

Republicans should like this idea - if you tell them that it's basically Health Vouchers that allow people to shop for the best deal.

Denying coverage because of Pre-Existing Conditions will be Banned for any insurance being sold through the Exchange. Denying valid claims recommended by a doctor and dropping coverage because someone has the temerity to GET SICK will be banned.

Buying from an exchange also would allow for buying Insurance Across State lines which is something else the Republicans claim to want, but can't seem to take "Yes" for an answer.

We need to not let Congress tip-toe away from the Public Health Insurance Option!


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