The health care two-step | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The health care two-step

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 2:31 PM

I can't count the number of Republican news releases and front groups blasting Arkansas's two senators for whatever they do on health care, including their recent participation in  potential compromise legislation. So that's one point of view.

Then you have the Doctors for America, a fairly progressive, group, praising the work of Sens. Lincoln and Pryor.

Then you have a very progressive group, the Campaign for Community Change, saying the compromise doesn't go far enough aand the only solution is a pure public option.

See those two statements below.

I'm where I always was. Universal single-payer.

RELEASE: Arkansas’s Doctors for America praise Pryor, Lincoln for compromise to move health reform forward

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Doctors for America’s members, including state director Dr. Hershey Garner, expressed their pride that Arkansas’s Senators led the charge for a compromise on the public option to keep health reform moving forward. Senators Lincoln and Pryor’s work resulted in a proposal that continues to gain support from their colleagues and will be fully unveiled after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office releases its analysis of the plan.

“Just days ago, the Senate seemed to be at an impasse on moving forward with health reform. Senator Lincoln and Senator Pryor’s leadership is why health reform is still a real possibility this year. I am proud of the Arkansas voices that helped guide a constructive alternative,” said Dr. Hershey Garner of Fayetteville. “I look forward to seeing the final proposal and measuring how well it increases access to quality care for the Arkansans who so desperately need it.”

In the gang of ten U.S. Senators who developed the compromise proposal, Arkansas is the only state where both Senators were asked to join the group.
Tentative details of the compromise proposal include extending the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to consumers in the health insurance exchange and an option for uninsured people aged 55-64 to buy-in to Medicare starting in 2011, three years before health insurance exchanges will open.

Doctors for America is a grassroots group of over 16,000 physicians with a presence in all fifty states committed to passing meaningful health reform legislation. The group works to convey the ideas and experiences of physicians in order to achieve reform that provides high quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans.


We still don’t know much about the details of the agreement hammered out by the group of 10 Senators who came up with the “compromise”.  Some of what we hear has been good, but there is need for serious improvement.

We are glad to see people 55 to 64 will get access to a robust public option under Medicare. However, we are deeply disappointed there is not a public option for people under 55.  If a public option is a good idea for people over 55, why isn’t it a good choice for people under 55.  National private insurance plans alone are not a substitute for a public option.  There is a need for the public option to keep private insurance accountable to the people instead of just profits.

The Senate bill needs to make sure that health care is really affordable for working families, at the end of the day this is what the bill is about.  Making health care affordable and high quality for everyday people.  This will require employers to pay their fair share and provide good coverage, and includes fair financing instead of taxing high cost plans.  
A national nonprofit is not a substitute for a public option. Non-profit does not equate to being good for the American people.  Many of today’s nonprofit plans are just as likely as for-profit insurers to raise premiums, evade insurance rules, and divert “excess funds” into their piggybanks instead of customer pockets. As private companies, nonprofits aren’t transparent or publicly-accountable. Half the country now is in nonprofit plans, and they employ the same anti-consumer tactics as the Wall Street-driven for-profit private plans.

Adding a collection of plans modeled on Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) will overburden a weak government agency, guaranteeing they can’t live up to the job entrusted to them.  The Office of Personnel Management has no record of driving cost containment or needed payment reforms, and does not have the resources to regulate these plans effectively.

When you couple this with some recent polling, there are now progressive people who oppose the current plans, because they do not go far enough.  

The tactic for the Senate should not be to move further to the right, they should be looking for greater improvement and that requires moving to the left.  Including a public option is part of it.  And guess why this really makes sense, because the public favor the public option over the current plan.

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