As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Biting The Good Poll Numbers That Feed Them

To follow up on Tom Daschle's big fold on the public option, which is setting minds in Washington as we speak, the timing is truly impeccable. Not only did the WSJ and NBC come out with a poll finding 75% support for a public option in any reform, but an additional poll - put together by foes of health care reform - found even more support.

The poll — which was just released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a D.C. policy think tank — finds that a majority (53%) strongly back the availability of a public plan, while another 30% “somewhat” support it. That’s a total of 83% in favor of a public plan — a staggeringly large majority.

Even more interesting, guess who paid for the poll? From the release:

This survey was made possible with support from AARP, American Express, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Buck Consultants, Chevron, Deere & Company, IBM, Mercer, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Principal Financial Group, Schering-Plough Corp., Shell Oil Company, The Commonwealth Fund, and Towers Perrin.

Not exactly a band of raging lefties. The American Association of Retired Persons and Blue Cross Blue Shield were among the opponents of HillaryCare in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, instead of looking at those numbers and seeing that the public option must be preserved, Daschle and the Village thinks these guys must be preserved at all costs:

A Texas nurse said she lost her coverage, after she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, for failing to disclose a visit to a dermatologist for acne.

The sister of an Illinois man who died of lymphoma said his policy was rescinded for the failure to report a possible aneurysm and gallstones that his physician noted in his chart but did not discuss with him.

....Late in the hearing, [Bart] Stupak, the committee chairman, put the executives on the spot. Stupak asked each of them whether he would at least commit his company to immediately stop rescissions except where they could show "intentional fraud."

The answer from all three executives: "No."

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said that a public insurance plan should be a part of any overhaul because it would force private companies to treat consumers fairly or risk losing them. "This is precisely why we need a public option," Dingell said.

Rescission is a serious problem. Here in California, Blue Cross and its parent company HealthNet have settled to the tune of about $37 million dollars in a variety of rescission lawsuits.

But no, private insurance must be preserved because it's so efficient. After all, that's why we pay twice as much for health care with worse outcomes than most of the industrialized world! (P.S. I know that doctors ordering up unnecessary treatments and tests contribute to this as well - our system's lack of integration provides perverse spending incentives.) And by the way, all of this is happening despite the fact that the Progressive Caucus has vowed to vote against any health care reform that does not have a robust public option. It's just assumed that they can be steamrolled.

Instead, we have this spectacle of so-called "centrists," supposedly concerned with fiscal responsibility, fighting against reform tooth and nail, even though that would be the only way to reduce cost.

The House's two most conservative caucuses, the Blue Dogs and New Democrats, are banding together to come up with shared principles on healthcare and counter a process many see skewing to the left.

The two groups, which combined have 131 members — more than half the House Democratic Caucus — have been holding meetings to see where they can agree on a healthcare plan [...]

There is concern among centrists in the caucus that the draft bill, to be released Friday, will reflect some of the more liberal ideas in the caucus, although leadership has already rejected the idea of a single-payer system. It is being put together by the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees.

"You have a bunch of crazy liberal chairs and their crazy liberal staffers, and they want to lay down a marker," said a senior Democratic aide.

Crazy liberals, wanting to replicate the rest of the industrialized world's policy of less spending and greater effectiveness in health care!

It's really sad to see the Washington consensus just run like a truck over meaningful health care reform. Especially because the public won't buy anything without a public option as real reform, period.

UPDATE: Russ Feingold on the Senate floor:

Frankly, I am disappointed that this has become the topic of so much controversy, because it is such a fundamental part of making sure we provide the reform that my constituents, and all Americans, deserve.  Some have even suggested scrapping a public option in the interest of passing a bill with bipartisan support.  I want to pass health care reform and I hope very much we can do so with bipartisan support.  But I am not interested in passing health care reform in name only.  I am not interested in a bill that allows us to somehow tell our constituents we have done something but doesn’t really address their concerns.  We need real reform, and real reform means a strong public option.

And Americans want a public health insurance option.  According to a recent poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, over three fourths of those polled said they would like the ability to choose between public and private health insurance plans.  Providing a public health insurance option that does not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and illnesses will significantly improve the ability of people to access health care.

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