Debating the President's Portsmouth pitch (part 11)

Here are two Presidential answers to different questions. The contrast is instructive:

THE PRESIDENT: And I do think that having a public option as part of that would keep the insurance companies honest, because if they’ve got a public plan out there that they’ve got to compete against, as long as it’s not being subsidized by taxpayers, then that will give you some sense of what — sort of a good bargain for what basic health care would be.

… We do think that systems like Medicare are very inefficient right now, but it has nothing to do at the moment with issues of benefits. The inefficiencies all come from things like paying $177 billion to insurance companies in subsidies for something called Medicare Advantage that is not competitively bid, so insurance companies basically get a $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides. And it’s no better — it doesn’t result in better health care for seniors.

On the one hand, the new public option would “keep the insurance companies honest” and be something “that they’ve got to compete against.” On the other hand, where that competition exists today in Medicare, he argues the government should cut payments to private plans that are competing with the Medicare “public option.” This is one reason I fear the public option. A future President could easily make the arguments that President Obama made Tuesday about Medicare Advantage plans, and seek to tilt the playing field toward the public option.

Continue to the next post in this series…


Other posts in this series:

  1. The President’s overpromise that everyone can keep their health plan
  2. Putting the government in charge of your health insurance
  3. Waiting in line
  4. Government-mandated benefits
  5. Preventive care does not save money (in the aggregate)
  6. The House bill would increase short-term, 10th year, and long-term budget deficits
  7. The President was incorrect — AARP opposes the bill
  8. The bills would take Medicare savings needed for solvency and spend them on a new entitlement
  9. Medicare is not a good example of government-run health care because Medicare is fiscally unsustainable
  10. Even if the public option drops out of legislation, other parts of these bills would put private insurance under government control

7 responses

  1. Doesn't the proposal to tax the insurers in order to cover some of the costs of the public plan already constitute 'tilting the field?'

  2. I have a question that maybe you can answer, I'm being told by people that private supplemental plans like Medicare Advantage would be outlawed under this bill. That seniors would no longer have a right to purchase additional insurance policies or use private policies in total. This sounds untrue to me and I can't find in the House bill, could you enlighten me?

    Excellent coverage of the health care bill, by the way. Thank you.

      • I suspect it is too, but I wanted to check with someone more knowledgeable before I found myself on the losing end of an argument.

        I'm so very tired of all the false rumors, I think there is enough wrong with this bill based on facts and arithmetic without resorting to these sorts of scary rumors to sway people's opinions.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  3. I just want to post the fact that while some Medicare Advantage bids may not be competitive some must be completely underbid or the Federal Government is not paying what they said they would pay, as QMedCare of New Jersey went bankrupt for providing Medicare Advantage.

    QMedCare of New Jersey QMed, Inc., (NASDAQ Symbol: QMED) today, December 27th, announced that its subsidiary, QMedCare of New Jersey, Inc., is concluding its involvement in the Special Needs Plan in New Jersey. The Company is working closely with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to have an orderly wind down of the operations of the New Jersey Special Needs Plan.
    Source: http://www.njdobi.org/lifehealthmain.html

  4. Throw The Healthcare Obstructionist Out!

    More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 76% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (85% of democrats, 71% of independents, and 60% republicans). Basically everyone.

    We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world. And the most costly. Costing over twice as much as every other county. Conservative estimates are that over 120,000 of you dies each year in America from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. This is what being 37th in quality of healthcare means.

    I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. A trillion dollar taxpayer funded private health insurance bailout is all you really get, without a robust government-run public option available on day one. Co-OP’s ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION. They are a fraud being pushed by the GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry that is KILLING YOU!

    YOU CANT HAVE AN INSURANCE MANDATE WITHOUT A ROBUST PUBLIC OPTION. MANDATING PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE AS YOUR ONLY CHOICE WOULD BE A DISASTER. AND UNETHICAL, CORRUPT, AND MORALLY REPUGNANT. AND PROBABLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS WELL.

    These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

    Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

    But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

    But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

    Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will make you feel better too.

    There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

    I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

    You have been AMAZING!!! people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. :-)

    God Bless You

    jacksmith — Working Class

    I REST MY CASE (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

    Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

    * Richard Shelby of Alabama
    * Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    * John McCain of Arizona
    * Mel Martinez of Florida
    * Johnny Isakson of Georgia
    * Mike Crapo of Idaho
    * Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    * Sam Brownback of Kansas
    * Jim Bunning of Kentucky
    * David Vitter of Louisiana
    * Kit Bond of Missouri
    * Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
    * Richard Burr of North Carolina
    * George Voinovich of Ohio
    * Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
    * Jim DeMint of South Carolina
    * John Thune of South Dakota
    * Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
    * Bob Bennett of Utah

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