Krugman & Kennedy Come Out Swinging in Support of Senate HCR Bill

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Both Paul Krugman and Victoria Kennedy have written editorials this weekend supporting passage of the Senate health care reform bill.

Krugman’s NY Times piece, Pass the Bill lays out the frustrations many of us are feeling about the direction this bill has taken. Krugman doesn’t deny the bill has been watered down. However, he also notes what it would do and the significance of passing a reform bill that would be the largest expansion of health care since Medicare was created.

At its core, the bill would do two things. First, it would prohibit discrimination by insurance companies on the basis of medical condition or history: Americans could no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or have their insurance canceled when they get sick. Second, the bill would provide substantial financial aid to those who don’t get insurance through their employers, as well as tax breaks for small employers that do provide insurance.

Pre-exisiting conditions and policies being canceled without notice when the insured have become ill remain two of the greatest injustices perpetrated by the insurance companies. Pay those premiums for 25 years, get sick, get dumped, go bankrupt. Well, not anymore, not if the Senate bill becomes law.

Victoria Kennedy elaborates in her Washington Post editorial, “The moment Ted Kennedy would not want to lose”:

— Insurance protections like the ones Ted fought for his entire life would become law.

— Thirty million Americans who do not have coverage would finally be able to afford it. Ninety-four percent of Americans would be insured. Americans would finally be able to live without fear that a single illness could send them into financial ruin.

— Insurance companies would no longer be able to deny people the coverage they need because of a preexisting illness or condition. They would not be able to drop coverage when people get sick. And there would be a limit on how much they can force Americans to pay out of their own pockets when they do get sick.

— Small-business owners would no longer have to fear being forced to lay off workers or shut their doors because of exorbitant insurance rates. Medicare would be strengthened for the millions of seniors who count on it.

— And by eliminating waste and inefficiency in our health-care system, this bill would bring down the deficit over time.

Krugman, in his usual direct approach, pulls no punches:

A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable.

But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.

I agree. Pass the bill. This chance isn’t going to come around for another 15 to 20 years. It’s been nearly 17 since President Clinton made an attempt. The Republicans feel they have momentum here and are doing everything they can to bring the process to a halt. It’s a brilliant tactic–to pretend you really, really care about passing a bad bill and claim you’d like to start all over. On the surface, it is pure political genius.  

It’s also pure bullshit since the Republicans haven’t been an honest player at the table since this reform was first introduced last spring.It’s brilliant but if you stick your nose in the air what you really smell is desperation over the fact that despite all attempts at being the Party of No and No Ideas, this reform bill is on it’s way to the White House for signing.

As the saying goes, your concern is duly noted, my fellow Republican Senators. Now shut the hell up and get out of the way so that nearly 30 million Americans can finally have a smidgen of what you have.  


58 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ardy39 says:

    1) Pass the bill. (shortcomings and all)

    2) Tan the hides of a couple conserva-dems out behind the woodshed.

    3) Begin the work of gradually improving this bill, one bit at a time, over the upcoming decade(s).

    4) Repeat for fuller, shinier, sexier hair.

    • Libertad says:

      He held out for full medicare/medicaid funding from the federal government.  This sounds like a backdoor to single payer.

        • Libertad says:

          Nelson Accused of Selling Vote on Health Bill for Nebraska Pay-Off

          Worse are the taxes to pay for this pig.  Its business as usual for the insurance companies, devise companies, hospitals, and drug brokers.  The only problem they face is how to digest all the new customers coming their way.  Just who did Raeid bend the cost curve here?

          Who Will Be Paying the “Cadillac Tax”?

          The excise tax on high cost health care plans has dubbed them “Cadillac” plans, a choice that was always a little puzzling.  The primary demographic for Cadillacs is on Medicare, not Goldman’s payroll.  And one of the main targets of the tax is the union members who form a core part of the Democratic base.  The notion that these people are grotesquely overpaid freeloaders is usually a Republican talking point.

          The confusion surrounding the tax comes from its complexity and the luxury car it is named for. When President Obama first raised the idea of taxing insurance companies this summer, he framed it as one way to get Wall Street executives to pay their fair share. Obama told PBS’ Jim Lehrer he wanted to target “super, gold-plated Cadillac plans.” Days later, Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod told The New York Times the administration wanted to tax benefits, “like the ones that the executives at Goldman Sachs have, the $40,000 policies.”

          At the time, Obama said he did not want the tax to hit middle-class families, but when the proposal emerged from the Senate Finance Committee in September, it proposed charging insurance companies and a 40 percent excise tax for high-dollar, but not exactly gold-plated plans. The bill now calls for the tax to apply to plans exceeding $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families, for the cost of combining health savings accounts, medical, prescription drugs, dental, vision, etc.. The tax is charged to insurance companies, but it is widely assumed they would passed it on to employers.

          Despite the politically powerful unions that oppose it, the tax is enormously attractive to government economists because it both raises revenue — $149 billion over ten years — and should depress the rate of health care inflation by discouraging companies from offering more generous health plans. The Joint Committee on Taxation and the CBO credit the tax as the largest factor in “bending the cost curve” and cutting the federal deficit, as the Senate bill is expected to do.

          • RedGreen says:

            Yep, within a few words you know it’s Libertad.

            • BlueCat says:

              just me being hyper-perceptive?  Didn’t think so.

              • Libertad says:

                Its business as usual for the insurance companies, devise companies, hospitals, and drug brokers.


                Insurance firms big winners in health care bill

                Willie Brown

                Sunday, December 20, 2009

                I got a call from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry the other day. From the sound of things, the Senate clearly intends to take its holiday break Wednesday, no matter what.

                If so, President Obama is going have a tough time making his Christmas deadline for a health care reform bill to win Senate approval.

                At this point, it looks like the biggest winners when a bill finally does pass are going to be the insurance companies.

                They’ll be getting millions of new customers – at government [aka Taxpayer] expense.

                Read more:

  2. sxp151 says:

    not because it would accomplish much of anything (even the bill doesn’t claim to want its provisions enforced), but because it would piss off Republicans.

    The reason Democrats have been stumbling all over each other and looking like imbeciles is because many of them keep trying to act like members of a responsible governing body. Meanwhile Republicans act like children and see their popularity growing.

    So my new strategy is to support whatever makes Republican heads explode the fastest. I envision lots of soggy pachyderm brain tissue in boardrooms and redneck bars across the country this Christmas, and it makes me happier than anything actually in the bill.

    • parsingreality says:

      …I might even change my mind!

      But seriously, the last I heard was that the insco’s COULD still cancel, set lifetime limits, consider pre-existing conditions… Maybe it’s all just moving too fast.

      If Krugman is right, then I might feel differently.  Something about where the devil resides….

      • sxp151 says:

        Bernie Sanders got some concession:

           December 19 – A $10 billion investment in community health centers, expected to go to $14 billion when Congress completes work on health care reform legislation, was included in a final series of changes to the Senate bill unveiled today.

           The provision, which would provide primary care for 25 million more Americans, was requested by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

           For the health centers, the $14 billion in the bill that the House of Representatives approved on Nov. 7 would increase the number of centers from 20 million to 45 million over the next five years.

           The investment would more than pay for itself by saving Medicaid $23 billion  over five years on reduced emergency room use and hospital costs, according to a study conducted by George Washington University.

        More details on the manager’s amendment in this Daily Kos diary, which suggests to me that the limits on caps are stricter. (Before this, all the restrictions had loopholes that were similar to the ones insurers had already been using to deny coverage.)

        • Libertad says:

          insurance companies, drug companies and medical device companies march on “business as usual” with even greater customer opportunities.

          I can see Harry Reid really bent that cost curve.

    • BlueCat says:

      for giving me a reason to give a crap about passing this piece of crap bill.  Not much, mind you.

  3. Emma Anne says:

    Pass the bill.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      I was so damned angry earlier this week and having difficulty finding a reason for this to pass, other than it being the politically savvy thing to do for the Democratic Party. Now, I’m convinced it is the moral and ethical thing to do as well and I credit both Krugman and Kennedy for helping me reach that conclusion.

  4. droll says:

    a significant rise in everyones premiums.  Then insurance companies get to blame the government for it and Republicans have data to prove that government (specifically Democrats) shouldn’t be involved in healthcare at all.

    There is, of course, a way to avoid it all.  Start the debate again immediately after pushing this shit through, straight down a healthcare laundry list.  Wouldn’t bother me at all if this gets fixed one bill at a time.  

    But I’m going to go ahead and keep breathing normally over here.  That’s going to take guts, if the Senate and Obama had any, we wouldn’t need the other bills now.  Following BlueCat’s lead, I’ll be taking a nap.

  5. Sharon Hanson says:

    It will pave the way for improvements to the legislation in the future if we all stay engaged in the process.  

  6. dwyer says:

    Let’s see what happens in the conference committee.  Got family with preexisting conditions, so this could be a godsend.  You know, alot of people with health/medical problems can’t get hired because they would have to go into the group’s insurance pool and that would make the rates go up.  

    • BlueCat says:

      while this forbids banning for prexisting conditions, it allows them to make such coverage ridiculously expensive.  It does nothing for those of us who buy our own insurance to get any relief from our current high priced, high deductible lousy plans.

      It enshrines the likes of Lieberman as our true Majority Leader and gives encouragement to every conservadem who ever wants to stick us up down the line because the leadership has demonstrated that they will roll over like puppies begging for a belly rub at the drop of a hat. But I’m with sxp. If it makes some GOP heads explode I guess it’s better than a stick in the eye.

      I do hope the house will fight against mandates coupled with absolutely no mechanism for real competition or lower costs. It’s watching my self-employed, self-insured head handed to the private insurance monopoly that is the toughest to get over.

    • allyncooper says:

      that I’m sure the insurance companies put there. Children excepted, the ban on preexisting denial doesn’t kick in till 2014. And like Blue Cat says, the insurance companies can charge and arm and a leg (pun intended).  

  7. DavidThi808 says:

    Legislation rarely comes out of the process as good as it started. LBJ’s first civil rights bill did almost nothing yet was the start of bringing equal rights for all.

    This is a lot more substantive and moves us forward on a lot of fronts. It also will be a giant statement that health care can be improved when it passes.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      In fact, it was reading a comment of yours earlier today that prompted me to write this up. I heard a political pundit on PBS make a great point–Medicare and Medicaid have both been tweaked countless times since they first passed. There is no reason to believe that this will not prove to be the same–a foundation to improve on. But without the foundation, we’re at zero for at least another generation.  

      • BlueCat says:

        They were public plans to start out with.  There’s not much here to tweak in that direction, not even expanded medicare buy-in. If they hadn’t given that away the second the snake Lieberman demanded it, I’d have something to feel good about right now. Besides the GOP heads exploding thing.  

        • Middle of the Road says:

          The head exploding thing sort of brightens my day. losing both the public option and the expansion of Medicare leaves me cold. I hate to put my faith in Krugman but I’d far rather be persuaded by him than by Ben fucking Nelson.

          • BlueCat says:

            the Liebermans and Nelsons.  There is also the all too obvious fact that our President and leadership never had any intention of even trying to  play hardball with them. Looks to me like they were downright happy for any excuse to continue to serve the overlords and get out from under all those promises that had us working our tails off for them in 2006 and 2008.

            Glad I have most of a week to get over feeling so grumpy before Christmas.  It’s not my holiday but we’re invited to a couple of great parties with great friends. This is the last day of Chanukah and this bill fits right in with the traditional presents…socks, slacks,  a dreidel or two…

            • Ralphie says:

              And I’m not even Jewish.  I’m Italian.

              • Middle of the Road says:

                I’m an atheist so this isn’t a terribly meaningful holiday to me but I do enjoy the opportunity to express to some folks how much they mean to me and how blessed I am to have them in my life.

                And then there’s the food…:)

                • BlueCat says:

                  outside of the miracle of the one day’s worth of oil burning for eight days, it’s basically a minor festival that celebrates, as so many Jewish holidays do, seeing our enemies deseroyed with ourselves, once again, free to fight another day. Of course this always involves the Lord as the primary  destroyer if you’re not an atheist. This applies to Purim  and Passover, too. So, even if you are an atheist, you can enjoy the basic primal zeitgeist of the holiday. We trashed those suckers.  Let’s eat.

              • allyncooper says:

                Happy Chanukah Joe, you can tell ’em at  temple how you fucked everyone.

                • BlueCat says:

                  voted for Obama and supported what he claimed were his health reform plans. Most of us consider Joe to be one of the enemies we would most enjoy seeing crushed. But Chanukah is now over and there was no lightening bolt from the blue so we’re stuck with him.  

  8. DavidThi808 says:

    Just got the press release from DeGette:

    “As the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, we have serious reservations about the abortion provision included in the U.S. Senate’s health care bill. This provision is not only offensive to people who believe in choice, but it is also possibly unconstitutional. As we have maintained throughout this process, health care reform should not be misused to take away access to health care. The more than 190-member Caucus will review this language carefully as we move forward on health care reform.”

    That’s a far cry from we will fight this. I’d say this is step one to accepting the Nelson plan – but not any more.

  9. allyncooper says:

    I was for universal single payer like the Conyers bill – about a 60 page bill as I recall. A 2000 page bill is what we have now.

    The lack of a public option and the demise of the 55+ Medicare plan is a huge disappointment, and stands as a testimony to the influence of special interests. And the ban on preexisting denial doesn’t kick in till 2014 as I understand.

    However the greatest disappointment, as Howard Dean stated, is that the bill does little to control health care costs. That should have been the number one priority of this whole process, even before universal coverage.

    But I guess since it’s taken almost a hundred years to get health care passed in the richest country on earth, let’s pass it and move on amending it for the better.


    • Middle of the Road says:

      Particularly this:

      But I guess since it’s taken almost a hundred years to get health care passed in the richest country on earth, let’s pass it and move on amending it for the better.

  10. indipol says:

    as other people have said here, let’s see what happens in the Conference Committee.  That’s almost always where magic is made.  The bill will change substantially behind the closed doors of that process, and the House will have a sizable majority on the committee.

    PS – Sharon, you’re lame.

  11. Pam Bennett says:

    As long as the bills contains the language of Stupak or Sec 1303 which are designed to kill women by preventing women’s health care the bills have to be stopped.  It is not progress to return women’s health care to the 11th century.

    Trading women’s lives for a health oligarcy and pharma approved bill is not progress and not good for American citizens.

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