October 29, 2009

Meaningful healthcare reform is looking possible after a long, scary summer

Print More

rita_hibbardwebThings are looking up for Americans. The recession is over. And finally, meaningful healthcare reform is looking possible.

The Senate is on board with the public option, giving insurance companies a reason to offer consumers competitive rates. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed the details of the package that would provide insurance to up to 36 million people by expanding Medicaid, the combined state and federal insurance program for the poor, and by offering subsidies to middle-income Americans to either buy insurance from private carriers or from the new government-run providers.

David Herzenhorn, blogging in the New York Times, reports the cost would be $894 billion, and would reduce future federal deficits by about $30 billion over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada says the bill he will send to the Senate floor next month also will include a public option.

This is the same public option that was derided for weeks during the summer months, right up there along with “death camps.”

“While the public option is not a silver bullet, I believe it’s an important way to ensure competition and to level the playing field for patients with the insurance industry,” Reid said.

Reid is no doubt emboldened by polls that show growing public support for the public option. At least 55 percent of Americans favor a government insurance plan to compete with private insurers, the LA Times points out.

That sentiment was reflected Wednesday in a small rally held outside the Missoula office of Sen. Max Baucus, a key Senate architect of healthcare reform. Baucus allowed a reform bill to get out of his Senate Finance Committee without a public option because he doesn’t believe a bill that includes that provision will pass. He has said, however, that he personally supports the provision.

“I get nothing for putting up $300 a month,” constituent Dodie Moquin complained Wednesday.

Moquin actually pays $300 a month for catastrophic coverage, the Missoulian reported. But if nothing catastrophic happens, God willing, then she gets nothing. Healthcare reform would provide her with basic healthcare coverage.

 “Anything less than accessible, affordable health care, Moquin said, is unacceptable. “It is a right, not something that has to be earned,” she said. “We deserve what our public officials already receive.”

After a long, scary summer of ill-placed anger around healthcare reform, when lawmakers attempting to have constituent discussions about issues were shouted down by opponents who seemingly wanted only to frighten seniors and others, it’s about time.

— Rita Hibbard

Comments are closed.