Friday, January 8, 2010

Health Care Fast

I'm sure everyone remembers Dr. Howard Dean's pushing for the public option last fall, and his repeated statements that it should go into effect, at least in part, by the mid-term elections, "for political reasons."

Swopa has a succinct version of this with a video embed, in which Dr. Dean gives his reason:
Once health care reform actually goes into effect, the Republicans who are only selling fear and anger -- that's all they're selling -- that has to go away, because reality will always trump fear and anger.

So, now that we know the preference of
60% of the American public is nullified by two people (Senators Lieberman and Nelson, the former going against the wishes of 82% of his constituents), that there's not going to be any kind of a public health insurance program included in the bill, is there enough policy left for reality to trump fear and anger? Politicians and pollsters will have to answer that question, but last Tuesday McClatchy reported on the parts of the health care bill that will most likely come into play prior to the 2010 elections. In the first paragraph, reporter David Lightman says there's "immediate help for the uninsured" but doesn't specify to what that refers. I've listed the specific items from his article here, in chronological order of implementation:

  • Slightly narrow the Medicare prescription-drug coverage gap and provide discounts on brand name drugs (immediately)
  • Require 80-85% of insurance companies' premium income to be spent on care (almost immediately)
  • Temporary insurance program for uninsured with pre-existing conditions (no later that spring 2010)
  • End of placing lifetime limits on coverage (summer 2010)
  • Require insurance companies to accept children (summer 2010)
  • More money for community health centers. (when?)
  • Allow youths to remain on parents' policies until at least age 26 (when?)
  • Expand health care locations for consumers (when?)

Are these policies enough for Democrats to hang their hats on? I have no idea. Would these changes be significant to most voters, or invisible? The slight relief on Medicare prescriptions might help grandma and grandma put down their "keep government out of my medicare" signs, but it's not going to make a huge difference. if the uninsured with pre-existing conditions are vocal enough, it might register with the rest of the population, however, not being directly affected means it's not as effective a policy. Requiring companies to provide coverage to all children is hugely popular but will need constant partisan trumpeting to counter the right-wing noise machine. Until the job market recovers, keeping your kids on your (presumably employer-provided) plan may help parents breathe a sigh of relief, and that might just be enough to cast the plan in a positive light.

I don't know politics, but the policies seem sound. They just need to point out (rightfully) how the Republican politicians wanted to prevent us from getting any of this. If you have more information on any of these pre-election implementations, I'd love to hear them in comments.

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