Monday, July 27, 2009

Bye Bye Public Option?

Apparently a “bi-partisan” Senate committee has dropped the public option:
Like bills drafted by Democrats, the proposal under discussion by the six Finance Committee members would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to any applicant. Nor could insurers charge higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

But it jettisons other core Democratic provisions in a reach for bipartisanship on an issue that has so far produced little.


They said any legislation that emerges from the talks is expected to provide for a nonprofit cooperative to sell insurance in competition with private industry, rather than giving the federal government a role in the marketplace.


Officials also said a bipartisan compromise would not subject large companies to a penalty if they declined to offer coverage to their workers. Instead, these businesses would be required to reimburse the government for part or all of any federal subsidies designed to help lower-income employees obtain insurance on their own.

So a “bi-partisan” committee is dropping the key Democratic reforms in exchange for ...?? Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums because of pre-existing conditions?

Are you fucking kidding me? You’re giving away the store for that? The two most abusive policies insurance companies have, the biggest reason everyone hates insurance companies, the insurance industry’s largest PR negatives--you don’t negotiate those, you fucking morons. Those are a given. Those are the things that documentaries are filmed about, that make headlines in the newspapers and evening news: the woman with breast cancer denied coverage by Cigna, or the millions who cannot afford an insurance policy at all.

Those are the things you tell the industry they must stop, period. That’s not a bargaining chip. With stories like that in the news on a daily basis, they should be glad they are allowed to stay in business at all, not get wiped off the map in a wave of socialize medicine that makes insurance companies a quaint thing of the past, like house calls. Everyone has a "denied coverage" insurance horror story.

You don’t give up the public option for that. Those criminal practices were history when Congress first uttered the words "healthcare reform." You give up the public option for something else, something big, something truly controversial or groundbreaking. Something huge. Honestly, I can’t even think of what it would be, because I think the public option is crucial to reining in insurance company greed. And some "bi-partisan" Senators gave it up in exchange for insurance companies agreeing not to act like soul-sucking vipers.

The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce is cheering this deal. Which is a sure sign that it’s going to suck for consumers.

Here’s the best part:

They have met for hours in recent weeks in Baucus' office, joined by aides and outside advisers such as actuaries summoned to explain arcane details of insurance.

Of course they have. They have to learn all about insurance, the ins and outs and ups and downs of it. Because that’s what this has always been about: insurance reform.

Not healthcare reform, but insurance reform.

Epic Fail.