Democrats agree to drop government run insurance option

Archive. Enter at your own risk. Unmoderated thread.


Moderator: Super Moderators

Post Reply
User avatar
racehorse
Pirate
Posts: 14974
Joined: 01-04-2003 03:00 AM
Location: Commonwealth of Kentucky

Democrats agree to drop government run insurance option

Post by racehorse » 12-08-2009 08:52 PM

http://www.kentucky.com/522/v-print/story/1051272.html

Posted on Tue, Dec. 08, 2009

Dems agree to drop gov't-run insurance option

By DAVID ESPO
AP Special Correspondent

Democratic senators say they have a tentative deal to drop a government-run insurance option from health care legislation. No further details were immediately available.

But liberals and moderates have been discussing an alternative, including a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by the federal agency that oversees the system through which lawmakers purchase coverage. Additionally, talks centered on opening up Medicare to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55, a significant expansion of the large government health care program that currently serves the over-65 population.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa told reporters he didn't like the agreement but would support it to the hilt in an attempt to pass health care legislation.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Abortion opponents failed to inject tougher restrictions into sweeping Senate health care legislation Tuesday, and Democratic leaders labored to make sure fallout from the controversy wouldn't hinder the drive to pass President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

The 54-45 vote over abortion took place as Democrats, in daylong private talks in the Capitol, appeared ready to scuttle plans for a government-run insurance option that liberals have long sought.

A potential alternative was taking shape, several officials said, including a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by the federal agency that oversees the system through which lawmakers purchase coverage. Additionally, Medicare would be opened up to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55, a significant expansion of the large government health care program that currently serves the over-65 population.

Taken together, the day's developments underscored the complexity that confronts the administration and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as they seek the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican opposition and pass a bill by Christmas.

Yet another controversy quickly followed, when Sen. Byron Dorgan., D-N.D, proposed legalizing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada and several other countries as a way of holding down consumer costs. The idea enjoys widespread support but is opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which has worked closely with the administration on health care and has spent millions of dollars on television advertisements in support of legislation.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a letter saying it would be "logistically challenging" to assure the safety of imported drugs, raising concerns without stating outright opposition.

Reid - the chief architect of the health care bill as well as an abortion opponent - played a prominent role in the debate over attempts by conservatives to toughen restrictions in the Senate measure. "No one should use the health care bill to expand or restrict abortion," he said, arguing that abortion foes were attempting to do just that. "And no one should use the issue of abortion to rob millions of the opportunity to get good health care."

The current legislation would ban the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services under insurance plans expected to be offered in a new health care system, except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother was in jeopardy.

Individuals who receive federal subsidies to purchase insurance under the plans would be permitted to use personal funds to pay for abortion services - the point on which the two sides in the dispute part company.

"Segregation of funds is an accounting gimmick," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., the chief Democratic supporter of tightened restrictions. "The reality is federal funds would help buy coverage that includes abortion."

Abortion rights supporters, Senate Democratic women most prominently, countered heatedly.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said abortion opponents were driven by ideology, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., called the proposed changes "a very far-reaching intrusion into the lives of women."

The amendment that Nelson, Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and numerous Republicans proposed would also have barred insurance plans from covering abortions except in the three categories if any of their policyholders received federal subsidies. It also would have required insurance companies that offer no-abortion plans to make available a policy that offers such services.

In all, 50 Democrats, two Republicans and two independents voted to kill the abortion proposal. Thirty-eight Republicans and seven Democrats favored it.

It was not clear whether the vote would mark the end of efforts by abortion opponents to change the health care bill before any final compromise talks with the House.

Nor was it clear how Nelson would respond to the defeat. He told reporters the result "makes it harder to be supportive" of the final legislation. But he wouldn't flatly rule out his support, adding, "We'll have to see if they can make it easier."

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat, told reporters, "Now we hope that we can work with him to get a provision in this bill that he can accept."

Barring a change of heart by one of the Senate's Republicans, Democrats cannot afford any defections if they are to pass their bill. Nelson has also been one of the most outspoken Democrats in opposition to a government insurance option and was involved in the closed-door talks taking place in recent days.

The Nebraska Democrat already has won a major concession from Reid, who agreed earlier that the legislation would allow the insurance industry to retain its exemption from antitrust laws. Several Democrats favor ending the exemption - the Houses-passed version of the bill does so - and would presumably be emboldened to try to remove it if Nelson decides to oppose the bill.

Abandonment of a government-run insurance option would mark a significant defeat for Senate liberals, who have long demanded its inclusion in the legislation as a way to force private insurers to hold down costs. It also would set up a final struggle with the House, which passed a health care bill earlier this year that gives millions of consumers the option of buying government-run coverage.

In place of the public insurance option that Reid inserted into the bill earlier, Democrats are considering a plan for the Office of Personnel Management to oversee private insurance, much as it does for federal employees and lawmakers.

Details were sketchy, but it appeared to win support from moderates as well as a positive response from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who has vowed to oppose any government-run health care plan.

There were few details available of the proposed Medicare expansion, which would open the program to the uninsured beginning at age 55.

An attempt by liberals to expand Medicaid drew objections from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and other Democratic moderates, and seemed unlikely to survive. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, whom Democrats are courting to support the bill, also criticized the idea.

In general, the legislation is designed to expand insurance coverage to millions who lack it, while banning insurance industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and reining in the relentless growth of medical costs in general.

Most Americans would be required to carry insurance for the first time, and face penalties if they refused. At the same time, the bill includes hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to help defray the cost of coverage for lower and middle income families.

---
Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Erica Werner contributed to this story.
racehorse
Image

User avatar
racehorse
Pirate
Posts: 14974
Joined: 01-04-2003 03:00 AM
Location: Commonwealth of Kentucky

Post by racehorse » 12-08-2009 09:02 PM

http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/ ... mode=print

December 8, 2009, 6:11 pm

Senate Leaders in Tentative Deal to Reject Public Option

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN AND ROBERT PEAR


Update | 8:46 p.m. The Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, said Senate leaders “have a broad agreement” on dropping a government-run plan from the health care bill, and that the Congressional Budget Office would review the implications of such a move on the budget.

“I told head of C.B.O. we would send him something he would have to score,” Mr. Reid said. He added that he had asked Senators Charles E. Schumer and Mark Pryor to work together with a group of liberals and moderates on making sure the health care bill has a vehicle to expand coverage to achieve the aims of the so-called public option.

The announcement came after the Senate on Tuesday voted against adding tougher abortion insurance restrictions to the health care bill.

The vote rejected an amendment proposed by Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, that would have barred any health plan purchased even partly with new federal subsidies from covering the procedure.

Abortion rights advocates said that Mr. Nelson’s proposed language, which would mirror restrictions included in the health care bill approved last month by the House, posed one of the greatest threats to women’s freedoms since Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that established a right to abortion.

The vote was 54 to 45, with two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, joining 50 Democrats and two independents to defeat the Nelson proposal. Seven Democrats and 38 Republicans voted in favor of the proposal.

The defeat of the amendment was quickly hailed by the women senators who championed the battle against it, Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland.

But it raised yet another question about the prospects of the larger health care legislation by casting further doubt on Mr. Nelson’s willingness to support the bill.

To wrap up debate and move to a final vote, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, will need the unanimous backing of all 60 members of his caucus, including Mr. Nelson. Or he will need to win over enough Republicans to make up for any defections.

So far, no Republican has expressed a willingness to support the broader bill, but the two senators from Maine, particularly Ms. Snowe, are being courted aggressively by both Mr. Reid and the Obama White House.

The vote also put the Senate’s language on insurance coverage for abortions at odds with the House, which approved tougher restrictions in an amendment that helped secure the votes needed for final approval of the bill.

That House amendment, sponsored by Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan, was virtually identical to the Nelson amendment.

The health care legislation seeks to broadly expand insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans without benefits, in part by providing federal subsidies to moderate-income people to help them buy private coverage.

The Stupak amendment barred any plan purchased even partly with those subsidies from covering abortions.

The language that remains in the Senate bill would allow private plans to cover abortions. It would require at least one government-approved plan in each state to cover abortions and at least one government-approved plan in each state not to cover abortions.

Federal dollars could not be used to pay for abortions, so the Senate bill would require insurance plans to segregate privately paid premiums to use that money for abortions. Opponents of abortion rights have described the segregation of funds as a meaningless accounting trick.

Under existing federal law, generally referred to as the Hyde amendment, government money cannot be used to pay for abortions, except with rare exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother.

Both sides in the debate said they were simply seeking to apply that existing law to the proposed health care legislation. But the legislation would create circumstances not yet confronted by current law.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, and a co-sponsor of Mr. Nelson’s amendment, said he believed that supporters of abortion rights would try to use the language in the health care bill to ultimately undo the Hyde amendment and permit further use of government funds for abortions.

The defeat of Mr. Nelson’s amendment created an odd circumstance in which the normally more liberal House now has language in its bill that is more conservative than that of the normally more conservative Senate.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, herself a staunch defender of abortion rights, had tried desperately to strike a deal on abortion language in the days leading up to the vote on the health care bill. She nearly succeeded. Mr. Stupak and other opponents of abortion rights were willing to accept a compromise, but defenders of abortion rights – including some of Ms. Pelosi’s own closest allies in the House – balked. After the compromise fell apart, the result was even tougher language on restricting insurance coverage of abortions.

In the House Tuesday, Representative Lois Capps, Democrat of California, and the author of an earlier compromise language on insurance coverage of abortions, issued a statement praising the Senate vote.

“This amendment was far too extreme, going well beyond current law to deny private health insurance coverage of abortion services in the U.S.,” Ms. Capps said in the statement. “Its adoption would have mean more women would have their reproductive health choices made by politicians and anti-choice zealots in Washington.”

But even some strong Democratic supporters of the health care legislation said that the current abortion language in the Senate bill posed an obstacle to final passage. Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, and one of the seven Democrats to vote in favor of the Nelson amendment, said that further compromise would be necessary.

In addition to Mr. Conrad and Mr. Nelson, the other Democrats to vote in favor of the tougher language were Evan Bayh of Indiana, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

The abortion issue is one of the most emotional and politically charged in the health care debate. But it is hardly the only hurdle that Democrats face as they try to move forward with the legislation that embodies President Obama’s top domestic priority.

Before and after the vote on Mr. Nelson’s amendment, a team of 10 Democrats worked furiously to broker a deal over the proposed creation of a government-run health insurance plan, or public option, to compete with private insurers.

The emerging deal would remove the public option from the bill, setting up yet another conflict with the House measure, which includes a public plan. But Senate Democrats seem unable to muster the 60 votes needed with the public option included.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, has said he would vote against the bill, in order to defeat the public option. And other Democrats have voiced similar resolutions, although without so certain threat.

Instead of a public plan, the Democrats’s team of 10 propose creating a new menu of national, private insurance plans modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which covers more than 8 million federal workers, including members of Congress, and their dependents.

The plans would be overseen by a federal agency, the Office of Personnel Management, which would negotiate rates and coverage terms.

In addition, the Democrats are discussing a proposal that would allow Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 to purchase coverage under Medicare, which now covers Americans age 65 and over. The deal might also include a two-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was reauthorized earlier this year, and is set to expire in 2013.
racehorse
Image

rumike
Pirate
Posts: 2462
Joined: 04-27-2008 11:10 PM

Post by rumike » 12-08-2009 10:52 PM

...in favor of a better government run option.
Anchors Aweigh!

User avatar
racehorse
Pirate
Posts: 14974
Joined: 01-04-2003 03:00 AM
Location: Commonwealth of Kentucky

Post by racehorse » 12-08-2009 11:02 PM

Some of the left wing websites are outraged at this and particularly Harry Reid, rumike. It will be interesting to see what this consists of and what eventually happens.
racehorse
Image

rumike
Pirate
Posts: 2462
Joined: 04-27-2008 11:10 PM

Post by rumike » 12-08-2009 11:07 PM

racehorse wrote: Some of the left wing websites are outraged at this and particularly Harry Reid, rumike. It will be interesting to see what this consists of and what eventually happens.


Well, they are wrong, because expanding medicare is better - a single payer system! It's what I wanted all along. Except I'd give it to everyone. But bringing it to 55+ is awesome.
Anchors Aweigh!

SETIsLady
Pirate
Posts: 19872
Joined: 04-14-2003 08:52 PM

Re: Democrats agree to drop government run insurance option

Post by SETIsLady » 12-08-2009 11:37 PM

racehorse wrote: http://www.kentucky.com/522/v-print/story/1051272.html

Posted on Tue, Dec. 08, 2009

Dems agree to drop gov't-run insurance option


Ok now I am confused :confused: Harry Reid made this statement tonight.

Reid Issues Statement On Tentative Health Reform Deal Reached Tuesday Night

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement tonight:
This has been a long journey. We have confronted many hurdles, and tonight I believe we have overcome yet another one.

"I asked Senators Schumer and Pryor to work with some of the most moderate and most progressive members of our diverse caucus, and tonight they have come to a consensus.

"It is a consensus that includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways: one, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices.

"I know not all 10 Senators in the room agree on every single detail of this, nor will all 60 members of my caucus. But I know we all appreciate the hard work that these progressives and moderates have done to move this historic debate forward.

"I want to thank Senators Schumer, Pryor, Brown, Carper, Feingold, Harkin, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Rockefeller for working together for the greater good and never losing sight of our shared goal: making it possible for every American to afford to live a healthy life.

"As is long-standing practice, we do not disclose details of any proposal before the Congressional Budget Office has a chance to evaluate it. We will wait for that to happen, but in the meantime, tonight we are confident."
http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.co ... hp?ref=fpa

rumike
Pirate
Posts: 2462
Joined: 04-27-2008 11:10 PM

Post by rumike » 12-08-2009 11:42 PM

Yes, Reid says the news of the demise of the public option has been greatly exaggerated.
Anchors Aweigh!

User avatar
racehorse
Pirate
Posts: 14974
Joined: 01-04-2003 03:00 AM
Location: Commonwealth of Kentucky

Re: Re: Democrats agree to drop government run insurance opt

Post by racehorse » 12-08-2009 11:47 PM

SETIsLady wrote: Ok now I am confused :confused: Harry Reid made this statement tonight.

Reid Issues Statement On Tentative Health Reform Deal Reached Tuesday Night

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement tonight:



http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.co ... hp?ref=fpa


Here is the newest revision of the AP story. Yes, there appears to be much which is confusing about this right now!
--

http://www.kentucky.com/522/story/1051272.html

Posted on Tue, Dec. 08, 2009

AP sources: Dems reach deal to drop gov't-run plan

By DAVID ESPO
AP Special Correspondent

After days of secret talks, Senate Democrats tentatively agreed Tuesday night to drop a full-blown government-run insurance option from sweeping health care legislation, several officials said, a concession to party moderates whose votes are critical to passage of President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

In its place, officials said Democrats had tentatively settled on a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by the federal agency that oversees the system through which lawmakers purchase coverage, with the possibility of greater government involvement if needed to ensure consumers of sufficient choices in coverage.

Additionally, the emerging agreement calls for Medicare to be opened to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55, a significant expansion of the large government health care program that currently serves the 65-and-over population.


At a hastily called evening news conference in the Capitol, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declined to provide details of what he described as a "broad agreement" between liberals and moderates on an issue that has plagued Democrats' efforts to pass health care legislation from the outset.

With it, he added with a smile, the end is in sight for passage of the legislation that Congress has labored over for months.

The officials who described the details of the closed-door negotiations did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss them publicly. Several officials stressed that so far, Democrats had technically agreed only on submitting proposals to the Congressional Budget Office for their impact on the bill's cost and other analysis.

At its core, the legislation would expand health care to millions who lack it, ban insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and rein in the rise of health care spending nationally.

The developments followed a vote on the Senate floor earlier in the day in which abortion opponents failed to inject tougher restrictions into sweeping health care bill, and Democratic leaders labored to make sure fallout from the issue didn't hamper the drive to enact legislation. The vote was 54-45.

Taken together, the day's developments underscored the complexity that confronts the administration and Reid as they seek the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican opposition and pass a bill by Christmas. Despite their reluctance, some senators had talked openly and in detail earlier in the day about the progress of the negotiations.

The provision in the legislation to be dropped under the emerging agreement provides for a government-run insurance option to be available to consumers, with individual states permitted to drop out. Liberals have long sought such as arrangement, as a means of forcing competition on insurance companies.

One participant in the talks, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, referring to a deal among the negotiators, told reporters he didn't like it, but added, "I'm going to support it to the hilt" in hopes of securing passage of the health care bill.

Another senator involved, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., issued a statement saying, "I do not support proposals that would replace the public option in the bill with a purely private approach. We need to have some competition for the insurance industry to keep rates down and save taxpayer dollars." But he did not rule out voting for the measure.


The White House quickly applauded the developments. "Senators are making great progress and we're pleased that they're working together to find common ground toward options that increase choice and competition," said a spokesman, Reid Cherlin.

In his comments to reporters, Reid said the emerging compromise "includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways: one, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices."

It wasn't clear what he meant by a "public option," the Medicare expansion or a fallback in case private insurance companies declined to participate in the nationwide plan envisioned to be overseen by the Office of Personnel Management. One possibility was for the agency to set up a government-run plan, either national in scope or on a state-by-state basis.


Under the tentative agreement, liberals lost their bid to expand Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health care for the poor, elderly and disabled. But they prevailed on the Medicare expansion, and the negotiators appeared ready to maintain a separate health care program for children until 2013, two years longer than the bill currently calls for, according to officials familiar with the details.

Additionally, there was consensus support for a requirement long backed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and other liberals for insurance companies to spend at least 90 percent of their premium income providing benefits, a step that supporters argue effectively limits their spending on advertising, salaries, promotional efforts and profits.

Reid - the chief architect of the health care bill as well as an abortion opponent - played a prominent role in the debate over attempts by conservatives to toughen restrictions in the Senate measure. "No one should use the health care bill to expand or restrict abortion," he said, arguing that abortion foes were attempting to do just that. "And no one should use the issue of abortion to rob millions of the opportunity to get good health care."

The current legislation would ban the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services under insurance plans expected to be offered in a new health care system, except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in jeopardy.

Individuals who receive federal subsidies to purchase insurance under the plans would be permitted to use personal funds to pay for abortion services - the point on which the two sides in the dispute part company.

"Segregation of funds is an accounting gimmick," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., the chief Democratic supporter of tightened restrictions. "The reality is federal funds would help buy coverage that includes abortion."

Abortion rights supporters, Senate Democratic women most prominently, countered heatedly.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said abortion opponents were driven by ideology, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., called the proposed changes "a very far-reaching intrusion into the lives of women."

The amendment that Nelson, Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and numerous Republicans proposed would also have barred insurance plans from covering abortions except in the three categories if any of their policyholders received federal subsidies. It also would have required insurance companies that offer no-abortion plans to make available a policy that offers such services.

In all, 50 Democrats, two Republicans and two independents voted to kill the abortion proposal. Thirty-eight Republicans and seven Democrats favored it.

--
Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Erica Werner contributed to this report.
Last edited by racehorse on 12-08-2009 11:50 PM, edited 1 time in total.
racehorse
Image

SETIsLady
Pirate
Posts: 19872
Joined: 04-14-2003 08:52 PM

Post by SETIsLady » 12-08-2009 11:50 PM

Thanks Race, I know what the AP is saying but that isn't what Reid is saying, and he made that statement around 9:30 this evening our at least thats when it was published. Oh well I guess I will wait to see what is said tomorrow :eek:

User avatar
Psychicwolf
Pirate
Posts: 5999
Joined: 12-31-2006 12:47 AM

Post by Psychicwolf » 12-09-2009 11:28 AM

The Medicare expansion is terrific for retirees. If I had my druthers we'd have Medicare for everyone, but this could help the Medicare program because I am betting the buy-in will be sliding scale depending on income. Even higher income retirees will no doubt take advantage of this. I'll definitely buy-in.;)
Dance to heal the earth. Not just when you're dancing, but always. Live the dance, whenever you move, in all you do, dance to heal the earth.

Cherry Kelly
Pirate
Posts: 12851
Joined: 07-29-2000 02:00 AM
Contact:

Post by Cherry Kelly » 12-09-2009 12:23 PM

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/12/09/ ... index.html

clip
"Two Democratic sources said the deal includes proposals to replace the public option by creating a not-for-profit private insurance option overseen by the federal Office of Personnel Management, much like the current health plan for federal workers, and another allowing people 55 or older to buy into Medicare coverage that currently is available to those 65 or older.
A Democratic source with knowledge of the deal said the alternative also includes a "trigger" mechanism that would create a public option in the future if the non-profit private alternatives fail to effectively expand coverage and bring down costs. However, the source said the trigger provision was tentative for now, based on whether moderates opposed to a public option would accept it."

so it is out, but not really out...

User avatar
racehorse
Pirate
Posts: 14974
Joined: 01-04-2003 03:00 AM
Location: Commonwealth of Kentucky

Post by racehorse » 12-09-2009 06:07 PM

http://features.csmonitor.com/politics/ ... -the-deal/

Will Senate Democrats’ healthcare reform tradeoffs seal the deal?

The healthcare reform tradeoffs reached Tuesday - no public option but expanded Medicare access - may help Senate Democrats win more moderates' votes. But it's still not clear they've got to 60.


By Gail Russell Chaddock | Staff writer/

December 9, 2009 edition

Washington

With a breakthrough in negotiations announced Tuesday night, Senate Democrats are closing in on a historic overhaul of US healthcare – even if no Republicans join them.

The agreement dropped plans for a big government role in the health insurance market (aka, the public option), which had been a deal-breaker for a handful of centrist Democrats, but in exchange for that compromise it expands access to healthcare through Medicare to workers as young as 55.

Other issues remain to be resolved, notably on cost-cutting and public funding of abortion services, but the public option had been a show-stopper in the Senate.

“This has been a long journey. We have confronted many hurdles, and tonight I believe we have overcome yet another one,” said Senate majority leader Harry Reid in a statement Tuesday night. “I know not all 10 senators in the room agree on every single detail of this, nor will all 60 members of my caucus … [but] tonight we are confident.”

A public-option task force

In a bid to resolve this issue, Senator Reid tasked 10 Democrats – five moderates and five progressives – to come up with a compromise that would keep all 60 members of the Democratic caucus on the bill. Lawmakers in both Democratic camps were threatening to vote down the bill over the public-option issue.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an Independent centrist who caucuses with Democrats, had said he would filibuster the bill if it included a strong public option. Progressive Sen. Bernard Sanders had said he would filibuster if it did not. With no support from Republican senators, Democrats need them both to push through health reform.

The deal proposes, in place of a government-run insurance program, mandating private, nonprofit companies to administer low-cost national insurance policies, along the lines of the health plans offered to members of Congress and federal workers. The federal Office of Personnel Management would set up the new national plan but nonprofit private companies would run it.

Details of the agreement won’t be set until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) gives its report on the cost of the bill with the public-option compromise, expected this week. President Obama and congressional Democrats say they are committed to designing a plan that adds not a dime to the federal deficit.

After a bill goes to the CBO, there will be considerable back-and-forth – both sides insist this is not bargaining – to ensure that the legislation is budget-neutral. If the bill clears the Senate, Democrats still expect hard bargaining with the House, whose version of the bill includes a strong public option.

Why moderate Democrats won this fight

But in any standoff between the centrist and progressive wings of the Democratic Party, at least for now, the centrists have an edge: Red-state moderates could lose reelection if they vote a position too far from that their constituents on healthcare reform, posing a threat to the Democratic majority in both the House and Senate.

Moreover, a review of senators’ voting record on healthcare amendments over the past two weeks shows that moderates are much more willing to break with their caucus than are progressives.

In his bid for compromise on the public option, majority leader Reid asked 10 Democrats to negotiate differences over the public option. These included moderate Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who led the centrists; Thomas Carper of Delaware; Mary Landrieu of Louisiana; Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Progressives were Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, who also chairs the campaign arm of the Senate Democratic caucus; Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Russ Feingold of Wisconsin; Tom Harkin of Iowa, and John Rockefeller of West Virginia.

Since the first votes on amendments on Dec. 3, moderates on the negotiating team crossed party lines to vote with Republicans 17 times, on issues ranging from cuts to Medicare and home health services to tort reform. Senator Nelson of Nebraska voted with Republicans on all but 2 of 16 votes. Progressives split with the party only once.

But progressives say their votes can’t be taken for granted.

“While I appreciate the willingness of all parties to engage in good-faith discussions, I do not support proposals that would replace the public option in the bill with a purely private approach,” said Senator Feingold, a negotiator, in a statement Tuesday night. “We need to have some competition for the insurance industry to keep rates down and save taxpayer dollars. I will base my vote on the bill on the entirety of what is in the bill, and whether I think the bill is good for Wisconsin.”

—-
racehorse
Image

Joolz
Pirate
Posts: 11976
Joined: 12-25-2002 03:00 AM

Post by Joolz » 12-09-2009 08:56 PM

Expansion of Medicare is great, but lowering it just to age 55 would still leave younger people without insurance out in the cold. I'm not so sure a "not-for-profit private insurance option" is the answer, either. And I definitely don't like the "trigger" option. I need to see more details before I can really form an opinion. As it stands, I'm skeptical until we get more info.
Image Anchors Aweigh!

rumike
Pirate
Posts: 2462
Joined: 04-27-2008 11:10 PM

Post by rumike » 12-09-2009 11:13 PM

The problem I'm having is that every person who is interviewed about this has a completely different take on what was agreed on. And often the takes are mutually exclusive. I like the medicare expansion for sure - once that is in place it is a permanent gain that can never be taken away (like SS). But I had heard the public option was not dropped, and then that it was, and then it was triggered, and then an exchange...geez.

I still don't see why we're pandering to blue dogs and Republicans. We won the freaking election with a progressive agenda. Pass a single payer medicare for everyone, stop the insane war on drugs, pass the ERA already.

Oh yeah, tax the rich, feed the poor, until there ain't no rich no more.

I'd love to change the world.
Anchors Aweigh!

Joolz
Pirate
Posts: 11976
Joined: 12-25-2002 03:00 AM

Post by Joolz » 12-09-2009 11:28 PM

rumike wrote: The problem I'm having is that every person who is interviewed about this has a completely different take on what was agreed on. And often the takes are mutually exclusive. I like the medicare expansion for sure - once that is in place it is a permanent gain that can never be taken away (like SS). But I had heard the public option was not dropped, and then that it was, and then it was triggered, and then an exchange...geez.

I'm having the same problem! I can't figure out much of anything from what's being said so far. It's difficult to make any reasoned assessment when it's all so nebulous. I heard that they are being mum until the CBO releases its figures on this. Why, I don't know. But supposedly, that's when they'll release more details. But if they're gonna be mum about it until then (as if they really ARE), then maybe it would have been better not to say anything at all for now. This is just confusing.
I still don't see why we're pandering to blue dogs and Republicans. We won the freaking election with a progressive agenda. Pass a single payer medicare for everyone, stop the insane war on drugs, pass the ERA already.

Oh yeah, tax the rich, feed the poor, until there ain't no rich no more.

I'd love to change the world.

I hear ya.
Image Anchors Aweigh!

Post Reply

Return to “Politics and Government 2004-2009”