Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.19 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat

07.17 ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades

07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]

07.17 Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

News Media Matters

07.18 In Sinclair's New 'Must-Run' Segment, Former Trump Adviser Tries to Defend Racist Attacks on 'the Squad'

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.18 Deadly Delays in Jail Construction Cost Lives and Dollars Across California

07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]

07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]

07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]

07.18 "Can't Change a Corrupt System by Taking Its Money": Sanders Urges All 2020 Democrats to Reject Insurance, Big Pharma Cash [49:02 video w/ lousy sound]

07.17 Why Democrats’ oversight machine is moving so slowly against Trump

07.17 Here's the real reason Trump is attacking 'the squad': he's scared of their politics

07.17 'Good,' Says Elizabeth Warren, After Billionaire Right-Winger Peter Thiel Says She's 2020 Democrat He Is 'Most Scared By'

07.17 The American Right Defines Patriotism As Complacency About Racism

07.17 This is what today's America looks like. The squad is us

07.16 As Trump Sows Discord, Chief of Staff Mulvaney Reportedly Focused on 'Building Empire for the Right Wing' [And the South shall rise again...]

07.16 George Will's startling assessment of Donald Trump

07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

Justice Matters

07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

High Crimes
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

07.18 Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.18 There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff

07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]

07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]

07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]

07.17 Trump’s Unlawful Asylum Policy Is a Jab at Mexico

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  The Politics of the Public Option
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

The Politics of the Public Option

by Robert Parry
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier today, 16 October 2009

From the start, the health-reform debate has been about money – who will get the best break and who may have to pay more. That is why the issue of the public option, a less expensive government-run insurance plan, has been so central to both the policy and political debates.

Indeed, if the Democrats abandon the public option for the sake of passing a bill like the one that came out of the Senate Finance Committee, they may be courting electoral disaster once voters grasp that they will have to wait years for the law to be implemented and then that it could lead to higher costs for much the same unpopular private insurance plans.

The public option offers the only means for a reform to be quickly implemented and to demonstrate a beneficial effect for the people by 2010 and 2012. It has the potential for reducing costs, especially for small businesses and individuals who are now being soaked by private insurers or denied coverage.

After assessing the five pieces of legislation that have cleared different committees of Congress, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the nation would get the most savings on health-care costs from a public option tied to Medicare rates. Such a version, which is included in two of the House bills, would save an estimated $110 billion over 10 years.

A more modest public option in another House bill, which de-links the rates from Medicare and would require negotiations with health-care providers, would save an estimated $25 billion, the CBO says. By contrast, the co-op idea in Sen. Max Baucus’s Finance Committee bill would cost $6 billion to set up and would garner few if any savings.

Since the co-op would offer minimal competition, the health-insurance industry doesn’t object to it but is dead set against the public option. The reason is obvious:  many of those projected savings would come out of the industry’s bottom line.

What the industry does want is a bill that forces nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, including healthy young people, to buy private insurance, many with government subsidies, a potential bonanza. The industry also wants the federal government to act as the enforcer to coerce these people by hitting them with stiff fines if they don’t sign up.

The level of government coercion is important to the industry. This week, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s lobbying arm, broke with the industry-friendly Baucus bill because of its relatively weak penalties of only a few hundred dollars a year assessed against people who don’t buy insurance.

AHIP feared that the fines wouldn’t be coercive enough to force young people to buy insurance. Therefore, the industry worries that many of the new sign-ups would be customers the industry doesn’t want, people who actually need medical attention.

So, industry lobbyists warned that if Congress didn’t raise the fines on the uninsured, the industry would jack up its premiums across the board. "The consequences of this would be an upward spiral; rate shock to everyone who stays in," AHIP president Karen Ignagni said. [Washington Post, Oct. 9, 2009]

Risking a Backlash

In firing that shot across the bow of Congress, the industry did risk a backlash, the possible revival of the public option, the industry’s biggest worry since the debate began last spring.

Early in the congressional battle, Republicans cited an industry-sponsored study by the Lewin Group, projecting that the inclusion of a public option could lead to the defection of 119 million Americans from private insurance to the government-run plan.

“As many as 119 million Americans would shift from private coverage to the government plan,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote in a column for Politico.com. That migration, Grassley said, would “put America on the path toward a completely government-run health care system. ... Eventually, the government plan would overtake the entire market.”

So, to protect the interests of the insurance industry, congressional Republicans – and some conservative Democrats – went to work killing the public option. Behind the scenes, the industry even helped organize angry protests at “town hall” meetings to pressure members of Congress to back away from the government-run alternative.

In essence, President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress must now decide whether they will take on the industry (and a Republican Senate filibuster) or whether they will take on the role of arm-twisters for the for-profit insurers.

If the Democrats bend to the demands of the industry and the Republicans, Obama and congressional Democrats could find themselves in several years explaining how they enacted “reforms” that bully moderate-income Americans into buying over-priced health insurance, fatten the industry’s profits and fail to achieve any meaningful cost controls.

Such an outcome could be catastrophic to the Democratic Party’s future and to the concept of progressive governance. Yet, some members of the Senate Democratic leadership appear to heading in that direction, wanting to portray pushing through some bill – even one without a public option – as a victory.

As the legislation stands now, many of the key features that hold some promise of helping consumers – such as the “exchange” where individuals and small business would shop for the best product – won’t even take effect until 2013. That means that Americans now facing the crisis of no health insurance won’t get much help for another four years, if then.

After the long political fight over health care, many of these hard-pressed Americans will suddenly realize that they have been left to the tender mercies of the health insurance industry until after the next presidential election when another person, possibly a Republican, could be in the White House.

By contrast to the four-year phase-in for these relatively modest reforms, the Medicare single-payer program for senior citizens was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30, 1965, and was up and running less than a year later.

Republican Attacks

The implementing delays mean that in both 2010 and 2012, Republicans will be free to make the truthful case that the Democrats – despite their promises – had accomplished little to help the American people on health care.

Already, Republican senators are using the talking point that the four-year delay is part of a budgetary trick to make the bill appear cheaper over 10 years than it would be if its key features took effect quickly.

Even when those new features do appear, Americans may find themselves coerced by the government into buying unsatisfactory plans from the same small group of giant insurance companies – essentially a cartel – that have little incentive to undercut one another on prices. It will be the Democrats who will be blamed for the fines on the uninsured.

The Democrats would not be much better off if Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, the one Republican who voted for the Baucus bill in the Senate Finance Committee, has her way. She wants the public option included only as a standby provision with a trigger if “affordable” plans do not materialize.

But the insurance exchanges won’t open until 2013, so it may take years before any trigger would be pulled. At minimum, the industry would have earned a lengthy reprieve.

And by the time, the exchanges have a chance to be tested, Congress and the White House could be in Republican hands. If that’s the case, the Republicans might well undo even the triggered public option. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans would surely not worry about ramming their preferred policy through the Congress.

On the other hand, if Congress enacts a public option now, it presumably could be implemented at least as fast as Medicare, especially if it were piggybacked onto the existing Medicare bureaucracy. That would enable Democrats to show they had accomplished something beneficial for the public before voters go to the polls in November 2010.

By 2012, if the CBO predictions of substantial savings prove true, Obama could campaign for reelection on the basis that he had improved the welfare of the American people -- and the budget outlooks for government and business.

The loser in that scenario would be the insurance companies. Their plight might not be as dire as the Lewin Group predicted, but they probably would not be celebrating the windfall profits from the combination of coerced consumers and government subsidies.

Given those prospects, it’s hard to understand where Democratic leaders see the political or policy upside of selling out the public option.


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on October 16, 2009.

 

Public Service Ads: