Tuesday, August 18

Medicare-For-All is not the Solution to Health Care, but it just might change the Game

This morning Rep Anthony Weiner appears on Morning Joe essentially to explain why he's threatened to vote against any bill that doesn't include a Public Option and bring 1000 Democrats with him, instead he did the one thing we haven't seen any Democrat do yet - dive head first into supporting the Single_Payer Option of Medicare-For_all.

What I've half suspected as the result of the President's JuJitsu of throwing doubt on the Public Option has actually occurred within 24 Hours - Democrats like Joe Sestak are Coming OUT BREATHING FIRE in support of the Public Option and starting to shove the Overton Window in the right direction - but doing it in a way that makes sense the way the Weiner does here in part 2 of his debate with Scarborough.

The most annoying part of this is the Scarborough simply fails to comprehend what Weiner is saying. "What value do private insurance companies bring to the table?" He repeatedly spins this into "You DO want a government TAKE OVER of Health Care!" - to which Weiner responds "Was Medicare a Take Over?"

And the truth is it's not, because private insurance companies simply REFUSED to cover older people since they represent a higher risk. That the same situation for those with so-called "Pre-existing Conditions" whom insurance companies refuse to cover, or frankly SICK PEOPLE who have their claims denied and their coverage dropped just when they need it.

Scarborough says this is an "Ideological Issue" and a question of whether you believe the Government can be more efficient, and Weiner is DEAD ON correct to point out that Medicare already IS more effecient, so what do we need private insurance for again?

Joe claims that the problem with Medicare is that it will go "Bankrupt" in a few years, but that's actually not true. Right now the taxes collected for Medicare go into a trust fund and as more and more people grow older and join Medicare while there are fewer younger people to help contribute to the fund eventually the fund will go from generating a Surplus to a Deficit.

That was what caused the big scare in 1994-1995 when the Medicare Trustees reported the surplus would disappear in 2002. (They always report this - the only thing that chages is the year and it actually had Improved that year from teh previous prediction when the Gringrich Congress - which included Scarborough - attempted to use it to bully President Clinton into signing a Date-Certain balanced Budget by - you guess it, 2002!) Well, the surplus didn't disappear, largely because Clinton refused to go along with Gingrich, while the specter of Hillary-Care actually managed to get the Private Insurance Companies to cut the fat for a few years - so let's stop worrying about that particular boogie-man because bringing down medical inflation and re-balancing the budget will solve that problem now just as it did back then.

One other point I want to make about Weiner's "Medicare For All" suggestion is that from my reading of the HR 3200 that what he describes is almost exactly what it does. Almost. It doesn't expand Medicare itself, what it does is Duplicate most of it's structure and efficiencies into a new system with it's own trust fund that - after an initial start-up investivement - will be supported by the premiums generated by it's members rather than by taxes. The primary advantage that this has Over Medicare is that it doesn't have the demographic problem that continually threatens it's trust fund, and frankly it's probably BETTER because of it.

We have to bring down Medical inflation in order to save Medicare - but also to save The Nation because it's actually worse for Corporations who are paying through the nose for Private Insurance far more than what is being spent on Medicare as the Conservative Rand Corporation has recently reported.

How do increasing health care costs affect the U.S. economy? A RAND study addressed this question by estimating how health care cost growth that exceeds growth in GDP ("excess" cost growth) affected three important economic outcomes: employment, output (measured as revenues), and value added to GDP. The analysis included data from 38 industries over the 19-year period 1987-2005.

The study posited that the extent to which excess growth in health care costs affects economic outcomes in different U.S. industries depends on the percentage of workers with employer sponsored insurance (ESI). Rapid growth in health care costs is expected to have a larger effect on economic performance for industries where large percentages of workers receive employer-sponsored health insurance because these industries face more pressure to increase total employee compensation or labor costs as a result of health care cost growth.

We have realize that higher health care premiums for corporations means lower take home pay for employees and further, fewer jobs.

With Sen. Kent Conrad today admitting that Member Owned Not-for-Profit Co-Ops Will not reduce costs, and ideologically blinded Republicans still even see CO-Ops as "Government Run Health Care" we have to realize that the Co-OP option is not good enough either to get the job done or to bring Republicans across the aisle.

Also, I don't think Medicare-for-All is the best answer largely because simply adding more people into the system makes it's demographic problem worse, not better - however openly discussing the Weiner plan may help diffuse some of the hysteria over the Obama/Dingle Public Option of HR 3200 since that isn't paid for with taxes, it's paid by premiums and it gains more members it's trust fund increases rather than becomes more strained.

If anything this makes the Public Option even more attractive, with all the benefits and advantages and cost efficiencies of Medicare - without it's structural problems.

And if what Howard Dean said today on Scarborough is true, it may be tricky - but the Public Option will probably emerge from the Conference Committee and be voted as part of Budget Reconciliation in order to avoid a filibuster.


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