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The Health Care Reform Sell Out

category_bug_politics.gif The elderblogger giveth and she taketh away. No sooner had I posted what I believed - with reservations - is a compelling reason to be generally hopeful about the Senate health care reform bill than Senate Leader Harry Reid caved to the perennial flip-flopper, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut who demanded removal of the Medicare buy-in for uninsured people age 55 to 64.

After leaving a meeting in Reid's office, Lieberman told reporters Monday evening:

“Harry said, ‘We will do what we can do to secure this.' “He said, ‘I have got some work to do with other members of the caucus.’ But he said, ‘My own feeling is we need you to get to 60 and so I am going to do my best.’”

I'm disgusted with them all, but am particularly incensed today at Senator Lieberman who has never had a political philosophy to call his own, only whatever will allow him to maintain his power along with the spotlight he so nakedly craves. Listen to him in an interview from September this year claiming credit for devising the Medicare buy-in idea:

What changed since then? Lieberman represents the third wealthiest state in the nation, measured by median income, which is also home to a large portion of the insurance industry. Who do we suppose got to Lieberman in the past three months??? As The New York Times notes:

”During his 2006 re-election campaign, Mr. Lieberman ranked second in the Senate in insurance industry contributions. Connecticut is a hub of the insurance business, with about 22,000 jobs specifically in health insurance, according to an industry trade group.”

To make Lieberman's reversal on the Medicare buy-in provision taste even worse, White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is said to have personally urged Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman and “get it done. Just get it done.” Later, a White House spokesperson denied the report although two sources confirm it.

Even good guy senators have caved.

"'How could I not vote for the bill?' [West Virginia Senator Jay] Rockefeller said. 'I have to consider who is looking to me for results and what can I give to them. This makes it easy for me to vote for it.'

“Sen. Paul Kirk, D-Mass., also seemed ready to accept the compromise. In the closed-door meeting, he called for everyone else to go along too, invoking the name of his predecessor, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, and his desire to pass health care reform.”

This is not compromise, it is capitulation to the corporate forces that desperately want to maintain the health care status quo. The White House has been so weak on promoting reform that would make a real difference in the lives of citizens that it is apparent they just want a bill, any bill, by the end of the year and they will crow about reform whether it is or not.

Without a public option and without the Medicare buy-in, there will be, just like now, no choice but private coverage. And get this: No one knows who, but someone snuck a nasty little surprise into the Senate bill that hasn't got nearly the news coverage it should:

”As currently written, the Senate Democratic health care bill would permit insurance companies to place annual limits on the dollar value of medical care, as long as those limits are not 'unreasonable.' The bill does not define what level of limits would be allowable, delegating that task to administration officials.

“Adding to the puzzle, the new language was quietly tucked away in a clause in the bill still captioned 'No lifetime or annual limits'...

"'We don't know who put it in, or why it was put in,'" said Stephen Finan, a policy expert with the [American Cancer Society's] advocacy affiliate...

“Finan said the change in the Senate bill essentially invalidates the legislation's ban on lifetime limits. 'If you can have annual limits, saying there's no lifetime limits becomes meaningless,' he said. A patient battling aggressive disease in its later stages could conceivably exhaust insurance benefits in the course of a year.”

So now, without a public option or Medicare buy-in, there is no reason to believe insurance will be any less expensive under the reform package, patients will still face a cutoff of coverage in the middle of treatment for catastrophic illnesses and any American who refuses to buy corporate coverage will be fined by the IRS. I'm taking bets on how soon the clause eliminating pre-existing conditions as a reason to refuse coverage will be gone from the bill.

But, hey, that's okay. As President Bush pointed out, there is no health care problem in the United States; people can just go to emergency rooms.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Brenton “Sandy” Dickson: Searching For Answers


I'm keeping my meager supply of powder dry; saving my next round of phone calls, etc. until the result in the Senate is clearer. Of course, the problem is that people I trust now come down on opposite sides of the issue. Howard Dean feels it's a lost cause, while the President urges us to move forward.

Don't trust the president on this one. This health bill is more of the same, with the bitter taste of betrayal of the promises made by him and the hopes of Senator Kennedy.

My hope is that Senator Lieberman uses up every one of his "markers" on this and loses ppower for the rest of his time in the Senate.

I am sick of this...pun intended. The health care reform bill is in dire need of resuscitation; problem is, all those who could provide life support are squabbling about how to do it and the bill will probably die.

I am going to tell my senators that I want them to vote no. Senator Wyden might go along with this but to me, to give these people credit for fixing it or even starting us on the road to fixing it, is a disgrace. They won't fix it and they proved it when they voted to not allow anyone to buy lower priced drugs from Canada. This is a sell out for the money. I am disgusted especially with Lieberman except I think he carried the water for the administration and others who wanted no type of public option but didn't want it on their record. It will cost more than it should or limit the effective coverage and in the end if it passes, it will be another example of Democrat failures of which there are already plenty.

I'm thinking "let's not pass it," too. Private insurance has failed; mandatory private insurance is going to succeed (for patients) how? They could regulate the insurance industry better (i.e., no caps, no denial for pre-existing conditions) without it.

Re: the New Yorker article about how the health care reform package now is like agricultural reform was. After thinking about it, I realized: the big difference is that there was no huge, multibillion-dollar effort opposing and shaping the agricultural reform; the gov't was able to move forward without an agricultural entity comparable to pharma and health insurance industries.

Lieberman is becoming a comic strip character. The only thing he has done successfully is provide material for the late night comedians. The Health Care reform bill as it now stands and Lieberman remind me of that old song, "First you say you will, and then you won't. Then you say you do, and then you don't. You're undecided now; so what are you 'gonna do?"

I am beyond disgusted.

I'm composing my letters to Boxer and Feinstein. It has to include the question "Where were you when all of this was happening? Don't Senators from California have some power? Any power?" I expected them to make themselves heard on this. They should have been calling for press conferences on a daily basis...but I never heard their names mentioned at all. This is why I left the Democratic Party five years ago. I'm so glad I did...now I don't have to be embarrassed by them. But wait, as an American I am embarrassed by the whole lot of them. I can't win.

Devastating...to have nothing after all these torturous months, after all the work by so many activists, after holding on to our belief that something better would emerge after all the twists & turns.

My worry at this moment is the increased cynicism in an electorate sold out by the few we'd hoped held concern for more than their next election.

Today is the 236th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. I will be calling Senators Voinovich and Brown of Ohio and tell them that if they don't want to serve the citizens of Ohio, we'll dump them in Lake Erie.

Personally I know better than watch the sausage making called the legislative process. However, this points out that we need a very serious revolution in this country. It is time to declare war on these idiots and their handlers. We fool ourselves if we believe that any of the politicians really care about or represent that moderate voters. A pox on all of them!

I'm disapointed in these comments. Come on, people. Wake up! The magic number is 60! We didn't elect enough Democrats to the Senate last year. As long as the Republicans march in lockstep, and there are always a few wild cards like Lieberman, nothing totally good will get done. You need a minimum of 65 Dems in the Senate to create a buffer to avoid all these compromises. Work to protect the ones you have and get a few more elected in the mid-term elections next year, and the missing parts can be added on to whatever passes this year.

I am totally disgusted at the idea that there will be no public option to choose from but everyone will have to buy coverage from the insurance industry.

Charlie Gibson of ABC evening news tonight asked Obama (in a private White House interview)
(I paraphrase)

Considering how many changes to the original intent of the Health Care bill have been made; the bill as it now stands might be labeled:


I'm among those who feel that all the good things were eliminated from this bill, and what's left is mainly a handout to the insurance industry. Moreover, they want to pay less to Medicare providers, which means some seniors may not find any to help them. Apparently they also would cut money for home health care. Do we want people to go to nursing homes when it isn't necessary? Think how much more money that would cost. Who says this mish-mash bill would save money? I hope it doesn't pass. Maybe then our so-called "representatives" can come up with something better.

I agree with this post 100%! For what I DON'T agree with, below are my comments about an article in The Washington Post written by Kathleen Parker entitled "The Anti-feminist Attack on Hadassah Lieberman." --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121504137.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter

I respectfully disagree—!!! Really - the spin doctors are getting out of control. Her husband is harming millions of people, and has not articulated a clear cut reason why, and we (anyone that questions the links) are wrong to be concerned about the fact that the money she is paid from this organization and/or her relationship with this organization may be one motivating reason for Joe’s betrayal?? We are not allowed to ask for the profit or influence motive to be addressed unless we are anti feminist??? Geesh, what next??

I suppose I am anti-feminist because I did not and never have liked or supported Mrs. Clinton? Any woman that gains political power by staying with a husband that treats her, her family, the country, and his party the way her husband did, is certainly not my idea of a feminist role model for my girls. It is her choice to make, not mine, but that does not mean I think she should be made attorney general or president because of it.

Or maybe I am anti-feminist because I did not and never have liked the former Gov. of Alaska. I disagree with her exercising a choice that I support her right to make, while advocating for that same choice to be denied other woman; I am disgusted with her attempts to call herself an advocate for people with disabilities when her track record demonstrates the opposite.

If you can tell, I dislike folks who say one thing and then do not support it with their actions. That is why I dislike Hadassah Lieberman, and her husband. And guess what — I am still a feminist… nice try, Kathleen.

Yes, kill this bill as is. Let Obama lick his wounds and get tough. Republicans will never, ever work with him so he needs to move on and whip 50 Dems plus Biden into line in the Senate and get things done. End the need for 60 votes, it is not in the constitution it is a good old boy rule.

Any real hope I had died when Sen. Edward Kennedy died.

So furious with Lieberman. He is representing the insurance folks in Hartford, not voters in Connecticut!

Not enough people actually believe that health care is a right. Too many people believe that health care is a commodity, just like any other product. Further, politics is a zero sum game, with two digits, zero and one. So, there is no middle ground. This is what you get.

The long term solution is to have four political parties, instead of two.

It's all just so...sad. Discouraging, disappointing. I'm 58, pay an exorbitant ransom to private medical insurance...mostly to protect my assets (not great, but enough so that I want to leave something behind to charity). My premiums and deductible is so high I can't afford to see a doctor, have tests due to out-of-pocket expenses...trying to live on a small monthly pension.

I'm most disappointed in President Obama, enough so that I'm not sure I'll ever vote again.

Insurance and pharmaceutical companies come out winners -- big time -- with this bill!

Not only will insurance companies reap the benefits of so many new people being required to purchase insurance, the plan to allow them to insure across state lines will really work well for the companies, too. States with high protective consumer regulations will find their efforts to prevent insurance company gouging reduced to the lowest common denominator and instead be based on where the insurance company is incorporated -- probably in just a few states with the most favorable least restrictive regulations.

The decrease in home health coverage is disgraceful at a time when the majority of people prefer to remain living in their homes with assistance rather than be in a nursing home. Overall, living at home is less costly, too, so where is the rationale to cut home health services?

That may well benefit companies receiving Medicare/Medicaid capitation benefits, forcing more people wanting to live at home into the umbrella of the medical care of those companies. The individual is required to sign over their Medicare/Medicaid coverage to such companies just as people with Medicare do who choose HMOs. Care is rationed, but some other term is used, so many people delude themselves into believing rationing isn't practiced. A benefit Medicare doesn't offer is dangled before the individual's eyes so they think they're getting more. They are, until they start getting sick which happens to most sooner or later, with increasing needs probable.

The reality is that what Congress is enacting, or leaving out is not rational. Those of us who try to understand what this bill is all about make the mistake of applying logic to our Representatives and Senators actions. Instead, the bill is about issues that have little or nothing to do with practical, functional, effective delivery of health care services that are in the best interest of the individual and our nation.

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