09.08.10

Texas homeowners can’t afford 4 more years of Rick Perry

Posted in Around The State, Election 2010, Insurance Reform, Uncategorized at 12:02 pm by wcnews

The new ad from the Back to Basics PAC is called “Four more years”, and it starts with the line, “Rick Perry just raised our insurance bill again”.  And ends with, “Thanks Rick.  Imagine what he could do in four more years!”

The ad also highlights how much Perry has received from insurance corporations and their lobbyists over the years. Bill White’s campaign also released an ad on this last week about how Perry’s promises from 2002 have been pushed aside.

Well we know Perry’s insurance “plan” was just a scam – election year posturing. With Texas now having the 2nd highest home insurance rates in the nation. Perry’s failure, whether out of incompetence or greed, is now complete.

It’s time for us to elect a new Governor who believes in insurance reform, that is Bill White. And to reelect leaders like Diana Maldonado who have long believed in insurance reform, to help White get this major issue through the legislature. Texas homeowners can’t afford Perry and the Texas GOP’s version of insurance reform any longer –
“reform” that hurts homeowners and only helps insurance corporations.

03.22.10

Historic heath care reform passes Congress – a wrap up.

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Good Stuff, Health Care, Insurance Reform at 1:28 pm by wcnews

Democrats have finally done what the GOP has been successful in stopping for decades – reforming the health care system in our country. Here’s what President Barack Obama had to say, This is what change looks like:

Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.

Here’s what’s to come right away, The Top Ten Immediate Benefits You’ll Get When Health Care Reform Passes.

  • Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
  • Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
  • Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
  • Lower seniors prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;
  • Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
  • Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
  • Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
  • Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
  • Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
  • Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.

No sooner than the bill was passed the far right wing of the GOP started cackling about repeal, Rick Perry Rails Against Socialism, Vows to Come Between Texans and Doctors.

Here are the real facts:

  • Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in America, at 25%.
  • Texas has the highest rate of uninsured children in America, at 20%.
  • Under Rick Perry’s misguided leadership, insurance premiums in Texas have risen 91.2%.

Rick Perry opposes this bill because it provides consumer protections for working Texans who need affordable, accessible health care.

This bill creates competition between insurance companies to offer the best care for affordable costs. It ends the terrible anti-consumer practices of denial for pre-existing conditions and rescission of insurance when folks need it most. It will lower costs, make our insurance system more efficient, and help establish access to basic medical care as a right, not a privilege for the American people.

The bill is a good bill that will go a long way to helping the millions of Americans who are insured, and millions more who are under-insured or worried about losing coverage every day.

Here’s what AG Abbott had to say:

“The federal health care legislation passed tonight violates the United States Constitution and unconstitutionally infringes upon Texans’ individual liberties. To protect all Texans’ constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation’s founders, and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government, the State of Texas and other states will legally challenge the federal health care legislation.”

Abbott and Perry think that things like doing away with pre-existing conditions, tax credits for small businesses, and lowering seniors prescription drug prices, just to name a few, not only need to be repealed but are unconstitutional. Sounds like a great set of issues for the Texas GOP to run on in 2010.

Chisme has their take, Lessons learned from health care bill passage in the House. Here’s the first:

We all saw Nancy Pelosi is awesome. How did Nany Pelosi and her team herd all of those cats and get the job done? Well done, Madame speaker.

CPPP has this to say [PDF] about the new legislation:

Texans are among the biggest winners in last night’s historic vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to enact fundamental health care system reforms. With more than one in four Texans currently lacking health care insurance and runaway premiums adding daily to that 6.1 million count, relief cannot not come too soon for our overburdened health care system. In addition to providing new economic security to millions of Texas families, the national health reform bill will also bring billions of dollars back to Texas each year through health insurance tax credits for middle class and low-income Texans, and Medicaid coverage for our poorest citizens.

While this bill is not perfect, (few if any are), it is much better than the system we currently have. President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid should be congratulated and very proud of this landmark accomplishment.

03.18.10

Homeowners insurance corporations – increasing our pain, Perry, GOP sit idly by

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, HD-52, Insurance Reform, Williamson County at 11:52 am by wcnews

Via Texas LSG, Homeowner Insurance Rates Continue to Rise [PDF]. And there is no oversight.

State Farm has announced that they will raise homeowner insurance rates by 4.5 percent in May. This comes on the heels of an 8.8 percent increase in October. 1 Texas homeowners already pay the second highest insurance premiums in the country; such a steep rate increase hurts Texas homeowners financially as they navigate through the worst recession in a generation.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Texas homeowners have been charged excessive premiums. In November, State Farm was ordered to repay its customers $310 million for overcharging homeowners for coverage dating back to 2003.2 This sum was actually $700 million less than what consumer advocates and the state’s Public Insurance Counsel recommended.

[...]

Since no legislation that gave such regulatory power to the Department of Insurance passed, insurance companies are free to continue raising rates. The Commissioner has been left only with the ability to write a disapproving letter to companies.

I’m sure a disapproving letter really scares an insurance corporation like State Farm. State Rep!? Diana Maldonado (D-Round Rock) says it’s time for “meaningful” reform.

“Forcing rate increase after rate increase on Texas homeowners is unacceptable and it is past time for the legislature to reverse course on this loophole that became law in 2003,” Rep. Maldonado said. “Hard working Texans deserve a level of stability and accountability in this volatile economy. Texas homeowners already pay the second highest insurance premiums in the nation, and I will work to eliminate this loophole to ensure that Texas homeowners are treated fairly and that insurance agencies are not allowed to continue unjustly raising rates in Texas.”

It’s doubtful either of her potential “conservative” opponents care much fore regulating the insurance corporations, and helping hardworking home owners.

BOR had this to say, State Farm Insurance to Raise Insurance Rates on Homeowners, Insurance Commission Unable to Stop:

These rate hikes require no prior approval of any kind. It might be important to mention, the Texas Insurance Commissioner is also appointed, not elected. This means the only person who can reprimand the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner, Mike Geeslin, is Rick Perry. Geeslin, has served as the Commissioner since 2005.

If Texas have to wait for Gov. Perry to help them in their fight against insurance corporations that help will never come. This means, at the current time, there is no regulation of homeowners insurance in Texas.

03.04.10

Post-primary analysis from around the internet – and more thoughts on the primary

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, College Tuition, Commentary, Election 2010, Insurance Reform at 1:23 pm by wcnews

Kuff has a wrap up from all the blogs that matter.

One interesting back-and-forth going around is how much, if any effect, the teabaggers had and who the winners and losers were on Tuesday.

Burka thinks that the teabaggers and wing nuts had little impact, Bad day for conservatives: the anger that wasn’t there.

This was supposed to be an unpredictable election due to the tea parties and the Medina candidacy. It was supposed to be an election in which angry conservatives rose up and smote incumbents. Nothing remotely like that occurred.

[...]

One of the undercurrents in this election was that conservatives disgruntled by Joe Straus’s defeat of Tom Craddick in the 2009 speaker’s race saw an opportunity to destabilize him by running hard-right Republicans against moderates on his team.

[...]

Most of the opposition didn’t come from the grass roots; it came from self-appointed kingmakers like Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Michael Quinn Sullivan. Incumbency proved to be mightier than ideology. The voter anger never materialized; it metamorphized into a brief infatuation with Medina and faded away after she self-destructed on the Glen Beck radio show.

A bonus for Straus: One Republican he surely didn’t want to see in the House was former Legislative Council director Milton Rister, a longtime Republican operative and hatchet man who is close to Craddick and Dewhurst. Rister was running for the Gattis open seat, but Dr. Charles Schwertner won that four-person race without a runoff.

This guy agrees, Perry victory not due to anti-DC anger.

Perry pulled it out without a runoff for a simple reason: The Hutchison campaign was awful from day-one

Perry’s campaign definitely benefited from that theme, but there was no larger anti-incumbent theme in GOP Congressional primaries in Texas.  All the members of the GOP Congressional delegation – except Ron Paul – that were in office during the Bush years are responsible for the current fiscal problems – TRILLIONS IN DEBT- at the national level, and they’ve spent the last year trying to shift that blame. But Perry’s anti-DC rhetoric never spoke to that, just about the recent attempts by Obama to fix the GOP mess.

Essentially the teabaggers in Texas are just a small part of the much larger “wing-nut” faction that has taken over the Texas GOP. But there was an interesting silence during the primary.  Where were these current and former GOP elected officials and appointees, who were on Sen. Hutchison’s “Honorary Statewide Co-Chairmen“, during the campaign? Some of these folks are on the far right like John Carter and John Culberson. But none of those on the list whose names are preceded with “Hon.” were anywhere to be seen, or heard, during this campaign trying to drum up public support for Hutchison. It’s as if they didn’t want anyone to know they still supported her once her poll numbers, and Perry’s “unfair” DC insider smear started to take hold.

The Turnout in the GOP primary was more than double what it was in 2006 (665,000) vs. 2010 (1.48 million).   Early on it was thought that a turnout like that would be bad for Perry and good for Hutchison.  My initial thought is that it wasn’t a bunch of “general election Republican” voters that turned out in the GOP Primary but a bunch of folks who don’t usually vote in the GOP primary, or don’t vote at all.  Many  of them, (as we can tell from the results), teabaggers and Medina supporters, and those on the extreme right.  But not the moderates and crossover Democrats that many thought would vote in the GOP Primary to help Hutchison in a high turnout primary.

But they did not vote anti-incumbent in Congressional races.  They mostly agree with the wing nut in the Texas GOP Congressional delegation.  Many of the incumbents, Perry especially, saw this and started taking advantage of that in their campaigns.  Perry in particular took his message hard to the right, with talk of secession, the 10th Amendment, etc…, and we’ll have to wait and see how much he tones down that rhetoric for the general election.

Some of the biggest losses for the GOP was the stiuation with incumbent Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo, and the problems it causes for the party’s Hispanic outreach, GOP incumbent Victor Carrillo blames loss on “Hispanic surname”.

As you now surely know, last night I was defeated (61% / 39%) in my statewide Republican Primary by my opponent, David Porter. Porter, an unknown, no-campaign, no-qualification CPA from Midland residing in Giddings filed on the last day that he could file while I was waiting in Abilene to bury my dad.

He has never held any elected office, has no geoscience, industry, or legal experience other than doing tax returns for oil and gas companies.

[...]

Given the choice between “Porter” and “Carrillo” — unfortunately, the Hispanic-surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover although I did all in my power to overcome this built-in bias.

That would lead one to believe that a significant amount of the “new” voters in the GOP primary this year didn’t want to vote for a Hispanic, given the choice of voting for someone else, despite a candidates qualifications.

But the GOP has many weak spots and hopefully the Democrats will point them out – early and often. The top of the ticket on the GOP is the same as it was in 2006. There fore the age old question needs to be asked, are you better off today than you were four years ago? On many issues in Texas things have not only gotten worse, but much worse on many of the “bread and butter” issue like college tuition rates, insurance rates, education, and electricity rates just to name a few. While Perry has touted his corporate welfare as a boon, it usually doesn’t help working Texans bottom line. And Perry’s property tax scheme that was instituted just before the 2006 election has been a complete disaster. Most homeowners property tax bills have not gone down, and it has created a structural deficit of at least $10 billion per biennium for the state budget.

The questions surrounding the outcomes on Tuesday are:

  • where to the anti-incumbent/teabaggers/Medina voters go in the general election?  Of do they just stay home?
  • Does Perry start to moderate his tone and move back to the HPV, corporate/Bush GOP middle?
  • If not what do the Bush/Baker/Hutchison Texas GOP voters do?
  • Can the Democrats, and Bill White in particular, finally run a great campaign in Texas that energizes their voters in a statewide year?

Those are a few of the questions that come to mind, I’m sure there are many more. But now both sides will go back to their respective corners and begin preparing for the fight to come in the Fall.

12.22.09

Health care bill, where it stands

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Health Care, Insurance Reform at 11:44 am by wcnews

At this point my take on health care is that despite my want to hold out for a much better bill, the best we’re likely to get is the current Senate bill with a few more concessions, hopefully, to the house side once it gets through the conference committee. And the fight to make this bill better should not end until a final bill is voted out of conference committee. But Without changes to campaign finance, and the continuing hold that corporations have over most politicians in our government, (especially Senators), this is the best we can get right now. From JackandJillPolitics:

For those who say, “but there are serious corporate giveaways.” Name me a bill that makes it through the United States Congress that doesn’t have major corporate giveaways! It’s how this system works. You can argue that the system is rotten, and we need campaign finance reform, and those are great points, but they have very little to do with the politics of the present moment. The politics of the present moment demand that those on the left who’ve fought for health care reform support this bill and build on that foundation in the future.

We get the best we can get right now and build on it, like was done with Social Security, HCR is a PROCESS, people! A bit of historical perspective.

Ah, yes. That bastion of progressive reform, social security, started out not covering women. And African Americans. And farmers. And maids and butlers. And government employees. And teachers and nurses and librarians and social workers.

Guess what? It does now.

In 1939 it became Pay-As-You-Go and the Social Security Trust Fund was created along with the FICA tax. They created the Aid to Dependent Children program and began including some women. Not all women, mind you. But some women.

In 1950 domestic labor, household employees working at least two days a week for the same person, nonprofit workers and the self-employed were added.

In 1954 hotel workers, laundry workers, all agricultural workers, and state and local government employees were added.

In 1956 disability benefits were added.

In 1961 retirement at age 62 was extended to men.

In 1962 dependent husbands, widowers, and children of women were allowed to collect benefits for the first time.

In 1972 benefits were increased 20% and cost of living allowances (COLA) were implemented.

There were further improvements made in the late 70s and early 80s as well.

Is it perfect? Nope. Has it gotten better and better over the years since 1935? Hell yeah, it has.

The bill will cover many currently uninsured in Texas, via the AAS.

Many of the health leaders say Texas — which has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured residents — has much to gain from the nearly $1 trillion proposals because they would dramatically expand coverage to people who lack it. Families USA, a consumer health advocacy group, estimated Wednesday that the state could cover 4 million of the 6 million people who are uninsured today under the Senate health bill now being considered.

Does this bill “fix” health care? No, far from it. Does is make it better? Yes, (see image in extended entry).
Read the rest of this entry �

11.05.09

Random news items

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The Nation, Around The State, District 31, Health Care, Insurance Reform, Right Wing Lies, Road Issues, Transportation at 4:05 pm by wcnews

Rep. John Carter promotes GOP alternative health care plan on his web site that the CBO states costs billions more than the Democratic plan and would leave 52 million Americans uninsured by 2019.  That’s some alternative.

GOP squabbles continue, nationally and in Texas.

Getting less attention is the fact that Democrats have two new members of Congress after Tuesday’s wins, (and two more votes for health care), and have a 258-177 majority in the US House.

As the DMN’s Tranportation blog reminds us, Transportation does well at polls — again.

Voters passed pro-transit ballot initiatives in Colorado,Michigan, and Maine, while defeating one anti-transit measure in Ohio on November 3. Taking into account the successful passage of two additional transit-related initiatives earlier in the year, the success rate for public transportation ballot initiatives in 2009 is 70 percent.

Texans only need look back two years when in 2007 a $5 billion transportation bond passed by almost 63% of the vote. What that means is that voters see transportation as a key issue and they’re willing to pay for it. It’s definitely an issue for a candidate to take a leadership position on.

Hank Gilbert has come out with another great policy proposal.  This time reforming insurance, Gilbert Proposes Bold, Comprehensive Insurance Reform Plan.

“Texans need to elect the person who oversees this industry in Texas. The Texas Department of Insurance should work for consumers, not the insurance companies,”  [Hank Gilbert] continued.

In calling for a state mandated 20 percent across-the-board premium reduction for homeowners’ and auto insurance, Gilbert said that “Texans need immediate relief from skyrocketing insurance premiums.”

Gilbert also called for other common sense reforms, including mandating that any rate hikes by insurance companies get prior approval from the Texas Department of Insurance. This is not required under current law. “Insurance companies can decide they want to hike their premiums, send their lawyers down to TDI and file a notice, and immediately start charging consumers the new higher premium,” Gilbert said. “That is not common sense regulation of the industry,” he continued.

Read the whole proposal here, Protecting Consumers, Protecting Pocketbooks. Wow!! The other Democratic candidates will definitely being playing catch-up, and following Hank’s lead.

11.02.09

News from all around

Posted in 2010 Primary, Commentary, District 31, Good Stuff, Health Care, Insurance Reform, Transportation, Williamson County at 3:19 pm by wcnews

6.474, (2.8%) [.pdf], turnout to vote early in Williamson County.

Waco Trib editorial yesterday on Rep. John Carter’s (R-Round Rock) financial disclosure woes, Expecting better of lawmakers and those who would join them.

Do we simply expect too much of our representatives and those who would sit among them? We sure hope not.

Yet this question arises too often nowadays, most recently here in Central Texas. For instance, U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, reportedly forgot to declare $300,000 in sales of Exxon stock, even as he was taking the floor of the House of Representatives to lambast Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, for failing to pay taxes on a far richer variety of undisclosed assets and income.

Initially Carter denied any problem existed, then acknowledged what he now says was an oversight.

Pot calling the kettle black? No doubt, though Carter, a former judge and stalwart conservative who has led the commendable efforts to force Rangel from his tax-writing chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, notes that he paid all taxes on his income, whereas Rangel did not.

Even so, the situation clearly highlights the carelessness (or worse) that so many of our lawmakers display these days, writing complex laws laced with loopholes and claiming complicated policy insights when they themselves can’t or won’t meet the very restrictions they set for everybody else.

FireDogLake points out that, CBS Lets Lieberman Lie About the CBO Analysis of Public Option Premiums.

CBPP has more good news on the House health care proposal, House Health Reform Bill Expands Coverage and Lowers Health Cost Growth, While Reducing Deficits.

Hank Gilbert is ready to debate, Gilbert Challenges Democratic Rivals To Ten Debates Across Texas.

debatemap

Noting that Democratic Primary voters need to be as informed as possible about the candidates seeking his party’s nomination for Texas Governor, Hank Gilbert on Monday challenged Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for governor to ten debates across Texas.

“Democrats across Texas deserve the opportunity to hear from the large number of candidates in this field—in person,” Gilbert said. “My opponents should welcome this opportunity to put themselves and their issues before Democratic Primary voters,” Gilbert said. “We’re ready, willing, and able to debate them anywhere, any time,” he continued.

Specifically, Gilbert challenged fellow candidates Tom Schieffer, Kinky Friedman, and Felix Alvarado to ten debates on a wide range of issues and in different formats throughout January and February.

In RRL Op-Ed Williamson County Precinct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman says, “I would like to hear from you on how you think we should fund transportation projects in the future”. She needs to check out Hank Gilbert’s plan.

10.30.09

Health reform round up

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Health Care, Insurance Reform, The Budget at 12:11 pm by wcnews

The US House health care proposal got a good review from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), CBO Says House Health Care Bill Is Deficit Reducer In Near And Long Term.

The CBO has weighed in with a preliminary cost estimate of the House’s health care bill–and there are almost certainly some very happy people in House leadership.

At $894 billion, the bill’s 10 year cost comes in a hair under President Obama’s $900 billion red line. But, more politically and substantively important, the bill is projected to reduce the deficit in both the first 10 years and the second 10 years after enactment, just as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told me earlier today.

Of course two Senators who caucus with the Democrats and whose wives make A LOT of money from health insurance corporations are playing coy about whether they’ll vote for health reform that includes a public option. Evan Bayh: Hypocrisy on the Public Option.

Evan Bayh, the junior senator from Indiana, is in the middle of a heated debate in the Senate on whether a public option should be included as part of President Obama’s health care reforms. An organizer of a group of so-called Senate Blue Dog Democrats, to date, Bayh’s been a staunch opponent of any changes to the status quo in this debate.

He’s worried aloud that any public option would be a nod to socialism and counter to his principles as a fiscal conservative. When pressed on the issue, he’s said he’s simply a vessel reflecting the views of his Indiana constituents.

Yet Bayh, who until very late in the campaign last year was considered a top contender to be Obama’s vice president, is at best naive and disingenuous, and at worst supremely hypocritical in pushing his views as those of his voters.

His wife, Susan Bayh, sits on the board of WellPoint in her hometown of Indianapolis. Over the last six years, Susan Bayh has received at least $2 million in compensation from WellPoint alone for serving on its board.

Why does Joe Lieberman oppose healthcare reform? Ask his wife. It looks like Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin is making sure Lieberman knows what’s on the line, Harkin: Lieberman Has Something to Lose.

“[Lieberman] still wants to be a part of the Democratic Party although he is a registered independent. He wants to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the [Homeland Security] committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus. So, I’m sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote.”

Joe will have to decide if he’s rather kill heatlh care reform or keep being chair of a committee. Life is full of choices.

In Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln is non-committal on a public option even though her political survival depends on it. The interesting thing is that in all of these states, like the country overall, the public option enjoys majority support. That’s why their insurance corporation ties and contributions loom so large.

The House has released Top 14 Provisions That Will Take Effect Immediately [.pdf] when the plan is passed.

10.27.09

Health reform looking more and more likely

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Health Care, Insurance Reform at 10:42 am by wcnews

Yesterday was a good day for all those with health care, whose costs keep rising and rising and rising, and especially for those without health care.  The Democrats in Congress are one step closer to making heath insurance fair, affordable, and universal.  And also bringing accountability to the insurance corporations, in the form of a public option.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), oftentimes maligned appears to have been able to keep the Democratic caucus together to allow an up or down vote on passage of health reform in the Senate.  A plan that will include a public option.  If that comes to fruition Reid will deserve much credit for passing health care legislation this year.   You can sign a petition thanking him here.

The public option that will move the Senate floor will include an “opt-out” for the states if they so choose.  How exactly it would work at this point is unknown but there’s some good reading on that here, Reid’s Opt-Out: The Devil is In the Details, and how it will play here in Texas, Opt-Out Public Option Proceeds in Senate.

The opt-out clause should be of some concern to folks like us living in Red States. Republicans in the House and Senate are almost unilaterally opposed to any sort of health insurance reform, choosing to stick up for the insurance companies instead of the 46 million uninsured Americans.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the country, as the chart at right demonstrates. Between 2007 and 2008, 9.3 million Texans were uninsured for part or all of the year. It is imperative that Texans have access to real insurance, in order to receive the care they need.

Of course the way to insure Texas does not “opt-out” would be to elect more Democrats, and a Democratic governor in particular.

At this point as Open Left points out there’s still a long way to go, Game On. Neither side has gotten everything they want, ideally Liberals and Progressives wanted a single payer system, so the public option – especially with an “opt-out” – IS a huge compromise.

Okay, folks, we progressives got what we wanted. A comprehensive health care reform bill with a reasonably strong public option will be going to the floor as part of leadership bills in both the House and the Senate. We don’t yet know whether we will get the best version of the public option in the House bill, and the Senate version is not as strong as progressives have been pushing for. But strengthening the form of the public option can be negotiated over in conference committee, once we get there.

Democrats will continue to strengthen the plan and make the benefits available sooner.

This is a huge win for all Americans, even if they don’t realize it yet, as long as the bill is moving forward it’s a good thing. The fight is not over yet so we can’t relax. Until the President Obama has a pen in his hand surrounded by members of Congress and those who will be receiving the benefits of this legislation it’s not over. But we’re closer then we’ve ever been.  Hopeful optimism but keep vigilant.

10.16.09

Friday Stuff

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Central Texas, Health Care, Insurance Reform, Unemployment at 11:05 am by wcnews

Via the AAS, state unemployment rises slightly, to 8.2%, and Austin job loss rate moderates. Press release and full statewide numbers [.pdf] from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Paul Krugman has a great article today in the NY Times on the disastrous Insurance lobby study from last weekend and why it might actually help get reform passed, A Hatchet Job So Bad It’s Good.

Last weekend, the lobbying organization America’s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, released a report attacking the reform plan just passed by the Senate Finance Committee. Some news organizations gave the report prominent, uncritical coverage. But health-care experts quickly, and correctly, dismissed it as a hatchet job. And the end result of AHIP’s blunder may be a better bill than we would otherwise have had.

[...]

Which brings us to the ways in which AHIP may have done health reform a favor.

As I said, the individual mandate probably should be stronger than it is in the Finance Committee’s bill. But there’s a reason the mandate was weakened: fear that too many people would balk at the cost of insurance, even with the subsidies provided to lower-income individuals and families. So why not address that cost?

Aside from making the subsidies larger, which they should be, there are at least two changes to the legislation that would help limit costs. First, health exchanges — special, regulated markets in which individuals and small businesses can buy insurance — can be made stronger, in effect giving small buyers a better bargaining position. Second, the public option — missing from the Finance Committee’s bill — can be brought back in, giving private insurers some real competition.

The insurance industry won’t like these changes, but that matters less than it did a week ago.

There’s also another point, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stressed. Part of the opposition to a strong individual mandate comes from the sense that Americans will be forced to buy policies from a greedy insurance industry. Giving people, literally, another option — the right to buy into a public plan instead — would defuse that opposition.

Even with stronger exchanges and a public option, health reform would probably increase, not reduce, insurance industry profits. But the insurers wanted it all. The good news is that by overreaching, they may have ensured that they won’t get it.

That’s a great way forward on health reform.

Keep in mind that health reform with a robust public option in it cannot be stopped by Republicans. There must be support from inside the Democratic caucus in the Senate to stop it, Harry Reid abdicates his leadership role.

So much for 60. Still, don’t ask Harry Reid, Democratic Leader, Senate Leader, and the party’s #3 leader to actually start leading.

Senator Harry Reid’s office is now going on record pushing back hard against a campaign by the left to compel him to force Dem Senators into line on health care, with Reid’s spokesman sending me a statement claiming the idea is unworkable and a non-starter [...]

“Senator Reid is focused on crafting a health care bill that will overcome a Republican filibuster. Stripping Democratic Senators of their leadership titles is a decision that would be left up to the Caucus, not Senator Reid. In light of this reality it’s unlikely that the Caucus would ever go along with this idea.”

So that’s that. The notion of “leading” is clearly a non-starter for Reid, according to his office. Well, glad Reid’s office has admitted as such. Time for new leadership.

And take special note of this sentence:

Senator Reid is focused on crafting a health care bill that will overcome a Republican filibuster.

Republican filibuster? Democrats have 60 votes. There is no Republican filibuster, just a Democratic one. The problem is Reid’s inability to keep his caucus together. His office can’t even be honest about Reid’s leadership failures. Fucking liars.

I’ll take a Chuck Schumer-run Senate with 57 Democrats (bye bye Reid, Lieberman, and Lincoln) than a Harry Reid-run one with 75 Democrats.

There’s more on this here (If Harry Reid Allows The Silent Filibuster, It’s All On Him) – sign the petition, and here (Health care bipartisanship lives!). There are reports out today that Reid may be Working The Inside Game For A Public Option.

And watch what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had to say about the public option earlier in the week.

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