The Kennedy Public Health Insurance Program

What Kagro Said:

The temptation to name the health care reform bill after fallen health care champion Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is as understandable as it is overwhelming. But with the bill currently still at the mercy of players who are, shall we say, not as clearly dedicated to a product that offers the kind of help Kennedy envisioned, I suggest that we not offer them the opportunity to attach his name to anything less than a bill he would have fought for.

So while it's undoubtedly in that spirit that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and others have begun their drive to honor Kennedy's memory by demanding that the HELP Committee's bill be passed and named after him, I suggest that it serves us and the Senator's memory better if our essential element -- a strong public option -- carries his name instead.

To name the weak tea "reforms" endorsed by the Third Way (read Ezra Klein) as the Kennedy Health bill would be a travesty.

Speaking for me only

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    What the heck BTD? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 11:24:40 AM EST
    Where's the hatin on Kagro?  I thought that Kagro would never make sense to you because you don't like Kagro. snark  I agree too and thanks to Kagro for pointing out that the only thing that could possibly bear Ted's name is the strong public option.

    Want to honor Senator Kennedy's (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 11:28:02 AM EST
    commitment to health care? Scrap current efforts and pass the legislation Kennedy actually championed Medicare for All Act

    Also agree with Bob Cesca's HuffPo headline: "Healthcare Reform Named After Ted Kennedy Must Not Suck."

    Two weeks ago, Kip Sullivan posted (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by Anne on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 12:43:35 PM EST
    a lengthy analysis of Section 3106 of the HELP committee's bill - it's the Section that regarding the Community Health Insurance Option.  The analysis is weedy and wonky, but nonetheless helpful in getting an understanding of how what sounds great in PR releases, can become perhaps less attractive when the details are fleshed out.  Or at a minimum, bear much, much more discussion before signing onto or feverishly whipping for.

    To begin with, as of the date of Kip's post, the HELP Committee bill had no bill number, and wasn't available for the public to read.  I don't know if this has changed, but the only thing available at the time of Kip's analysis was the draft bill on the committee's website.  It was in two pieces, the second of which contained the details on the Community Health Insurance Option, and was the chairman's markup.  

    I have not compared the July 2 Bill Text that is linked via the Kaiser link provided in Jeralyn's Open Thread, with the markup provided via link in Kip's post, so your guess is as good as mine whether either of these two bills are the final HELP committee bill.

    But here's part of what Sullivan has to say:

    Section 3106 requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS, the federal agency within which Medicare and Medicaid are housed) to create multiple health insurance companies that, together, will make "public" health insurance available for sale to the non-elderly in every state in the country.  The Secretary will not be using federal employees to make this happen.  The Secretary is required, rather, to contract with nonprofit insurance companies to create health insurance policies that will qualify as "community health insurance options."

    Kip goes on to dissect the language of the draft bill, and says:

    But as we read on, we encounter provision after provision that indicates the HELP Committee definitely envisions a balkanized "option." Some provisions reveal that intention by referring to "options" plural. Others reveal it by giving the states the authority to determine essential features of "options" sold within their boundaries, such as the required reserve levels and maximum benefits. A single national program can't have 50 different reserve requirements and 50 different benefit levels.

    Anyone else feeling a little uncertain yet that what is described in the posted summary may not be all it's cracked up to be?

    Section 3106 is a mess, but its meaning becomes clear after several readings. Section 3106 does not create the "Medicare-like" program promised by Jacob Hacker, HCAN, Howard Dean, and other "option" advocates. Instead it proposes a program that authorizes DHHS to create numerous health insurance companies tied to geographic areas, and to contract with members of the existing insurance industry to create and possibly run those companies.

    Before people leap onto a bandwagon in the belief that, because Ted Kennedy's name is in some way attached to a "public option" that it is, in fact, as great as it is being advertised, I would urge them to read the markup, and read the analysis of it.  

    And remain skeptical given the extraordinary push to pass "something," and now using Ted Kennedy's death to rally support for whatever it turns out to be.

    From the analysis, this seems more (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 02:42:08 PM EST
    like a privatized version of a public option than a true public option.

    What happened to 'public' meaning what it says, not a group (or 50) of LLC's that take their percentage off of the top?


    It makes no sense to me, either; (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by Anne on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 03:25:25 PM EST
    it's not public if not everyone can take advantage of it.  I know I'm repeating myself, but it would be the same thing as having a "public" transportation system that no one who already had a vehicle would be permitted to use.

    What the heck BTD? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 11:25:03 AM EST
    Where's the hatin on Kagro?  I thought that Kagro would never make sense to you because you don't like Kagro. snark  I agree too and thanks to Kagro for pointing out that the only thing that could possibly bear Ted's name is the strong public option.

    You overvalue the Kennedy name (none / 0) (#8)
    by diogenes on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 05:12:22 PM EST
    He was a lion of the senate, but Jimmy Carter whipped him in 1980.  Middle America has no great love for the historically liberal Kennedy policies, whereas he got high marks for working with Bush on education.

    Agreed BS health care disrespects T.K. (none / 0) (#9)
    by pluege on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 06:28:52 PM EST
    OTOH, attaching his name maybe improves the chances of getting a better bill. Its a toughy, but my guess is Ted would prefer a better bad bill with his name than just a bad bill without it.