Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Is Darcy Burner Fixating On The Public Option

Darcy Burner, the twice beaten Democratic Candidate from WA 8th District and the loopy lefty darling of all neo progressives in ear shot nearly had a cow yesterday when reports emerged from the Senate that it maybe willing to drop or weaken the public option in a scheme allowing 55 to 64 year olds to instead buy into Medicare.

Burner’s rant on Huffington Post yesterday claims that the two big issues of the healthcare reform debate are: “A whole bunch of people don't have insurance, and can't therefore get the range of medical services they need; and we spend way too much, twice as much as most of the rest of the industrialized world, for healthcare that's not as good as what they get.” Sounds to me like something a liberal would parrot at a cocktail party in Bellevue.

Then somehow she claims that the extension of Medicare to the 55 and over crowd in exchange for dumping or the drowning in the bathtub of the public option will likely make cost go up rather then down. Although I’m certainly no expert, I don’t see how she can substantiates that conclusion.

Experts have argued that Medicare administrative costs are lower then for private insurance when it comes to delivering treatment. Given that premise is true, wouldn’t that mean that if millions were allowed to buy in to Medicare, meaning they have to pay something too, and the cost of the government administration is lower then for private insurance companies. Wouldn’t the program lower the overall cost of the actual delivery of treatment to those patients? Plus a government run program has a better chance of controlling cost because it's the fucking government with big government clout, standard setting, uniformity and reach.

Sometimes I think the left is as hysterical as the right when it comes to their pet issues. The public option has become the litmus test for how progressive you are, or aren’t, on health care reform. Many couldn't tell a public option from a hole in the ground, but it’s something to talk about that sounds good when all out at the sushi wine bar, I guess. You’d think they were going to remove your appendix without anesthetics if you even dare mention that perhaps the public option has become so watered down that it’s time to start looking at other proposals. Hell, I was as dingy as Darcy about the public option last summer, but this latest fish we may not want to throw back.

For god sake Doctor Governor Howard Dean is the one who supposedly came up with this idea of Medicare at 55. Burner acts like it was a proposal by the insurance lobby. Dean understands that it has the potential to be a winner with voters immediately. Because it would probably kick in immediately and be a tangible thing that everyone understands as an improvement to the healthcare system. The damn public option under the most favorable Democratic proposal doesn’t start till 2014, and what the fuck will it look like given the sandbagging it's experiencing in the Senate at this very moment. The new Medicare proposal is giving millions of people the option to participate in a government run healthcare plan, and it could add needed political legitimacy for the what's in it for me crowd out there in the hinterlands, and the program is all ready up and freaking running.

There’s a number of other good reasons to seriously look at this proposal that I don’t have room to mention here.

Burner then goes on a tirade about how all this somehow will mean a reduction in preventive care to treat her yet undiagnosed diabetes. Connecting the non existent dots that lowering the age for eligibility to buy in to Medicare will, in Burner mind, make doctors less likely to order early preventative care testing for your hereditarily related diseases. I’d argue that the practice of proper preventative care incentives and allowing 55 year olds to have Medicare are two different aspects of the overall health reform bill. Burner talks about early testing and personal awareness of the need for exercise becoming somehow unavailable if the proposal passes. Isn’t exercise always been a personal lifestyle choice anyway? Do you need a doctor to tell you that you need to exercise to make it happen? Besides I think the bill as it now stands addresses these issues of promoting a healthy lifestyles and cost cutting with the promotion of early testing anyway.

Here my health reform advise for you everyone. Don’t smoke; exercise, and don’t eat so much that you become a fat ass. If you follow these three easy steps you will lower your health care costs and probably live a long a productive life. Otherwise not.

Darcy then makes the argument that the insurance companies will dump patients when they reach 55 years of age and get sick. These people will then become the wards of Medicare and it will be the responsibility of the “taxpayers to cover the cost”. If I remember correctly both current bills in the Congress provide protection against such antics by the health insurance companies. I think Darcy Burner could be dead wrong on this one. For the sake of reason, let’s at least let the proposal see the light of day before we kill it in the crib. If it will get the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation then it’s worth consideration.

This maybe the trade off for the public option we can live with.

Update: Here's more via Crooks and Liars on the details of the proposed changes to the Senate health-care bill. Howard Dean says, ""I think this is still real reform," but hedges his complete approval until he can see the details of the final proposal, especially on just who gets to buy into Medicare. I believe the CBO is in the process of "scoring" the bill to see what the projected costs would be. So stay tuned.

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