The Argument For Reconciliation: Saving Lives

Ezra Klein unwittingly provides the argument for reconciliation on a health insurance premium assistance bill (predictably, Steve Benen jumps aboard the anti-reconciliation train):

I could imagine a cost-benefit analysis that judges the whole bill worth it, or the whole bill not worth it. But it is very, very hard to imagine a cost-benefit analysis in which small policies operating on the margins and promising to save small-but-measurable amounts of money are worth more, in either direction, than the hundreds of thousands of people who will be saved -- not to mention spared bankruptcy, and lifted from chronic pain or impairment -- by the rest of the bill. The areas of controversy have become very slight given the magnitude of the underlying bill.

(Emphasis supplied.) Ezra believes he is making an argument for capitulation to the Gang of "whatever the number is today." In fact, that Gang will never agree to a health bill. Ezra is right - no Exchange, no "regulation," no excise tax, no "small-but-measurable" saving is worth blocking the parts of the bill that will provide less well off people with health insurance paid for by wealthy people. That's why reconciliation must be employed. To save lives. It's the only way.

Speaking for me only

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    What about the people who (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 09:37:23 AM EST
    will still have to declare bankruptcy or may die for lack of care since annual limits are permissible under the current Senate bill?

    Can that be dumped in reconciliation? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 09:40:08 AM EST
    It must be dumped.  Who put that in?  I spent a week with children who cannot have a limit and who have families who have lived in terror long enough.  Who did this?  It is time they were sorry!

    Reid (none / 0) (#6)
    by hookfan on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 09:59:04 AM EST
    apparently at cbo request to meet non deficit reqs. The argument goes that if it wasn't included premium prices would skyrocket.  So your idea of saving lives? Well. . .

    Rather hard to understand why (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 10:05:50 AM EST
    CBO did not focus on skyrocketing premiums when they scored the House bill that includes eliminating annual and lifetime limits on coverage.

    This is terrible (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 10:49:13 AM EST
    Reid did this to people dealing with the most chronic conditions?  My son will grow up.  My son will be a very productive member of society.  My son will easily "cost" over $10,000,000 getting there.  Should he have never been born?  Should any of the 30 or so kids I know the first name of so far have not been born?  That's literally what caps are saying.

    Sacrifices must be made (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by hookfan on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 11:06:41 AM EST
    Too bad for those with chronic conditions, or expensive conditions. The legacy industries must be protected at all costs, and we must not sacrifice our future to debt. 'Course nobody cared much about sacrificing our future to debt for the bankers. Exceptions must be made for those who are important. 'Course nobody much cares about the continually expanding military budget, sacrifices must be made. Well, it's time for the human sacrifices. Kinda makes me understand the Incas penchant for similar types of sacrifice.

    I'm ashamed of my country today (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 11:26:19 AM EST
    I'm deeply ashamed of Harry Reid.  Here is a website dedicated to a very small cross section of people who may not survive yearly coverage caps.  I've actually met Johnathan (who started this website) and his father Jeff too two years ago when Johnathan and Joshua had an expansion on the same day.  Johnathan comes down from Canada though and thankfully he won't have yearly caps on his insurance coverage.......just the third world American kids will.

    IMHO, incorrect. The Gang would agree (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Dan the Man on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 09:42:54 AM EST
    to a health bill if the bill was just a mandate plus enforcement of mandate and nothing else.

    True dat (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 09:50:11 AM EST
    Seems to me that the "saving lives" (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Anne on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 11:08:08 AM EST
    argument is one that should have been made about the benefits of expanding access to and affordability of actual health CARE at the start of the process, with that as the single most important goal, not at the 11th hour when it appears that the lives of most concern to Obama and the Democratic caucus are their own, sorry, political lives; I think there might be a few access blogger lives hanging in the balance, too.  Oh, the horror...

    The other thing people just do not seem to be focused on is that when we talk about passing a bill to provide premium assistance, what we are really saying to the industry is that they needn't worry that Congress will hang them out to dry - that whatever "reforms" it imposes on insurance companies, their bottom line will not suffer and Wall Street will be happy.  Oh, happy day!

    What Congress is saying to the individual is that it doesn't matter whether the quality of the coverage provided is commensurate with the cost; I mean, what good does it do to get help paying premiums that are already too high, if it doesn't get you any closer to actual affordable care?

    Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees...

    Finally finishing (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 12:17:18 PM EST
    my health care reform proposal term paper today- its amazing how every single reform was shaped to benefit the primary special interest groups of the time-- even Medicare/Medicaid only gained approval after opposition to it by the insurance lobby was dropped (after they attempted elder care plans and found them unprofitable), MMA has the donuthole in order to appease Medi-gap plan providers and HMOs(prescription drug coverage being there primary selling point)-- heck even partial appeasement attempts- like the Clinton Care Plan in 1993 which according to most economists would have greatly increased the profits of the 5 largest insurance groups (but would have cut the smaller plans profits by 30-40%) failed to co-opt the Insurance Lobby. This is neither here nor there but i just have a hard time seeing how large scale improvement will happen.

    By capitulating of course (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 12:18:49 PM EST
    Wow, I just wrote something (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 09:34:04 AM EST
    of the sort too in a different thread.  It is only my opinion but this is war, and we must do what saves lives.

    I just want to say (none / 0) (#12)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 11:42:01 AM EST
    that Ezra must have plagarized my comment from  last night last night a bit...or at least got his idea from it.


    Really, this isn't about feeding the bankster buddies; this isn't about giving the wealthy a big old tax break; this bill is literally about life or death and the Congress is treating it like it's just another bill they have to pass ....that's how I ultimately see it...and maybe how Ezra did once he read my comment ;-).

    I guess I have to ask (none / 0) (#13)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 12:10:18 PM EST
    why anyone think Reconciliation would actually result in the bill passing- I know it can't be filibustered- but do we have a hard 50- 50 votes that wont be shaken if the bill is then painted by the village and others as a hard-left bill (which we all know is what it will be painted as even by supposed moderates in the media).

    I have to ask you (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 12:15:23 PM EST
    if you know how to count?

    50 is less than 60. 10 less in fact.

    Indeed, if you ca not pass it via reconciliation, then it can not pass and the year has been a waste.


    Yeah I get that (none / 0) (#16)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 12:18:11 PM EST
    but I also think that reconciliation would make the risk/reawrd calcuation for the bill different for Senators now waivering.  

    Risk/reward? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 12:19:10 PM EST
    Tell me the risk?