Monday, November 23, 2009

Towards a more perfect health-care reform bill

It's been a long day, it was a terrible Steelers loss in Kansas City, I had a bit too much sake with dinner, and I just haven't been in the mood to blog.

Still, at this late hour, let me quote Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), from Sunday's State of the Union on CNN:

Listen, in the end, this is going to be a compromise. It's not going to be a perfect bill, but it's going to be a very important starting point.

I keep going back and forth on this, as I have for a long time now. Compromise is inevitable. Democrats can't pass health-care reform on their own. Or, rather, they can, if you include Joe Lieberman (which you shouldn't), it's just that they're divided. Or, rather, they're not, not really A huge majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate support reform with at least a fairly robust public option. It's just that in the Senate they need 60 votes to override a Republican filibuster and a few of them aren't on board. Which means that, when it comes right down to it, a small group of Democratic centrists hold the key to reform -- notably Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, and Blanche Lincoln. And, unless Harry Reid wants to use reconciliation to bring reform to a vote on the floor, the only way to bring them on board, and the pass reform, is to appease them. And it seems that the only way to appease them will be to water down, or kill, the public option.

Here's the thing, personally speaking: I prefer more reform (a bill with a robust public option) to less reform (a bill with no public option), but I also prefer some reform (including a compromise bill with no public option) to no reform at all (or to Republican-style reform, which would amount to an entrenching of the status quo).

So, the question is, how much compromise am I -- are we -- willing to put up with? How much is too much? How far is too far?

"We are open because we want to pass the bill," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). Okay, but how open? What are you willing to accept?

Ultimately, I suppose -- and I say this reluctantly -- Shaheen is right. Better an imperfect bill that would be, as I have been putting it, the thin end of the wedge leading to further reform down the road, than no bill. And that means, perhaps, no public option, or perhaps a trigger, or something else to appaese the centrists. In the end, it will still be an historic effort, a breakthrough, genuine reform for the better.

But no, not yet. If it comes to that, we may very well have to accept a compromise that we otherwise oppose. In the meantime, it's essential to keep fighting for more rather than less reform.

It's not too late, after all, for Congress to do what's right.

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  • It was with great interest and shock that I read Speaker Pelosi's December 1st entry to The Gavel regarding the CBO estimates of premiums under the AHCFA Act.

    According to the graph in that entry for a single person making $29780 a year the required insurance premium payment will be $2830 a year.

    Even with a subsidy this is STILL too steep for me.

    Rents in my area top over $1000-1100 a month for a 2-3 room apartment in a safe neighborhood.

    A salary of $573 a week would leave me with just $425 or so after taxes. This is a monthly salary of $1700.
    I'm greatly concerned about myself once my condition improves and that of my relatives and friends.

    What about the young college graduate living on their own paying $1100 monthly rent for a one room studio in a safe neighborhood? What about that $500 a month student loan they have to pay off?

    These are the great concerns I have. These high premiums are not affordable for me if I reach a salary range of $29-$35K a year.

    As a self-employed person hoping to grow my business and skills I plan to take courses next year to improve my computer skills. No doubt I will work out a payment plan with the school. So by the time 2014 comes I will have more payments to make.

    I will not be able to afford to give the government as much as $200-300 a month. This is something no one is talking about. Just how expensive our other necessities will be. Where am I going to find money I don't have?

    I've heard Karen Ignagni of AHIP speak that the penalties for non-compliance with the mandate should be much higher.

    That our elected officials who are Civil Servants should give so much in to the interests of the private sector is distancing me day by day from the Democratic Party.

    I do not like this legislation. I do not like the enrichment of for-profit corporations on the backs of the taxpayers. I do not know what planet everyone else discussing this issue is living on but I am here to remind you to speak out for those of us who are already rent poor and it doesn't look like the situation will change in the future.

    Even a basement apartment next to a garage in a low income area is going for $900 a month. It will be either rent or insurance in my case.

    I'll have to pay rent. And that's that.

    And the government will fine me or else take me to jail.

    Karen Ignagni will enjoy a fine bonus and nothing will have changed.

    This is reform? It's a sham and nothing will ever convince me to donate money to President Obama or any of the current Democart Senators again.

    I'm going to go Renegade in the next election. I intend to line up all the issues of concern and put those in my Column B. I'll next look up whichever candidate appeals to me and put them in Column A.

    After matching up how many issues from Column B match up with a candidate in Column A, that will be my vote. And it won't matter which party their in.

    This is the danger to the Democrats.

    But no one is listening in Washington.

    On 12/1/09 I called Senator Schumer's Washington office to express my concerns expressed in this letter. I was told:

    a. No one is forcing you to buy private insurance.
    b. We want to make sure people who have the money PAY.
    c. Wait until the finished bill goes online and then read it.

    This is unacceptable. I would appreciate it if you would cover this topic on your show one day. The CBO figures are out of touch.

    If you're able to pay this much rent plus another few hundred dollars a month good for you. Because of my necessities and other needs of people in my life I cannot.

    Please think of this whenever you start saying compromise and dealing with the private health insurers is alright. Not all of us enjoy the luxury of being so idealistic when our own survival is on the line.

    Rent money or insurance money? You tell me what will you do if you didn't even have the wiggle room to make a choice?

    By Anonymous katie mason stevens, at 12:28 AM  

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