Improving Affordability In the Health Bill

Via d-day, the President is on board with improving "affordability" in the health bill:

Obama agreed at Tuesday evening's meeting to help strengthen affordability measures beyond what's in the Senate bill, the aide said.

How to do that without public competition? Increase the subsidies. How to increase the subsidies?

[S]weetening the deal for low- and middle-income households could require more taxes to pay for additional subsidies.

So how does the President propose to pay for his affordability, given his endorsement of the Senate financing approach (including the awful excise tax) over the House approach (which taxes the wealthy (income over 500k/year)? We'll see.

Speaking for me only

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    didn't he say a while ago (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:17:56 AM EST
    that he did not want to hurt Insurance companies because they were a legitimate business?
    I do not get what that has to do with what is right for the American people.  Legit or not, why should business be more important than people's health?  for all his constitutional scholarship, he doesn't seem to remember much history.  In the early days of the US, a corporate charter was extended to only those businesses which had the best interests of the people in mind and at the heart of their business model.
    God forbid that the government compete with business to help the people who pay the taxes and for whom and from whom the government is formed.

    I think someone must have reminded him (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:53:11 AM EST
    that he promised to reduce the average family's premium by $2,000, and it's obvious that won't happen the way things are going.

    I just really, really hate that these people are going to such great lengths to make sure the insurance companies get every last red cent they demand, and no one is looking at whether policyholders are really getting value for the money they're spending - I mean, we already know that much of what is being built into the insurance companies' pricing is going to overhead that has nothing to do with improving access to actual care, so why are we just accepting that that's the way it is?  Do we think that subsidies are going to change that?

    The subsidy solution is unsustainable, especially when you consider that by the time all of this "reform" goes into effect, those subsidies will have to be a whole lot larger than what they would be based on current pricing.  So, when the government says it can no longer afford to raise the subsidies to keep up with insurance company demands, does anyone think the insurance companies will just accept that?  Don't we already know that they will just try to take it out of the hides of the people it insures?

    How or why we are all not standing in our windows and yelling "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!" I couldn't tell you.  Not civil enough, I guess.


    Yes, and an additional worry is that (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:37:23 PM EST
    the philosophical underpinning to the program is akin to that of welfare.  Subsidies and expansion of Medicaid, rather than Medicare, bring along the associated political vulnerabilities---with the future clarion call of "the end of subsidized health insurance as we know it".

    More people would be employed (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:18:42 AM EST
    if we had a functioning healthcare system.  How about that argument that if everyone is covered we don't have the healthcare workers to provide the services right now?  A job market in great need of workers...wouldn't that be fabulous? Insurance companies are what makes the entire system constantly dysfunction and hiccup and throw up.  More stable jobs would be created without the insurance companies but I'm sure that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner and the Hamilton Project, the masters of the universe of legitimate money shuffling and insuring, disagree with me.

    Duh (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:21:46 AM EST
    Who isn't on board with "improving affordability" (at least with their words)?

    Unfortuantely, their actions belie their words.

    What a dumb comment by Obama - we know we've engineered a crap bill for you, but will work to improve it in the future to make it "more affordable".

    I think it finally occurred to him (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:21:51 AM EST
    that this POS could fail to do much of anything discernable other than fleece people.  I think it may have finally occurred to him that that wouldn't be a good thing for him politically if that happens :)  I think it is a little late though for him to apply himself to structuring something that can long haul succeed to benefit the people that will make certain to fight for the life of the legislation.

    Well we might end up (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:30:53 AM EST
    with both types of taxes, but Obama loves the excise tax so I don't think it's going anywhere:

    OBAMA: Well, keep in mind that what we're talking about is imposing a tax or a fee on insurance companies for providing plans like that. But the fact of the matter is, members of Congress, for example, their policy basically costs around $15,000. A lot of people, when I travel around the country, they say, well, why don't we just make sure that everybody has the same plan that Congress has?

    Well, I think that's a pretty good benchmark, and the cost of a plan for members of Congress, which are pretty good health care plans, is about $15,000 a year. Right now this fee on Cadillac plans doesn't kick in until $23,000 under the Senate bill. So I think that we can structure something that protects ordinary workers, makes sure that they are getting a great health care plan, but also makes sure that they are not overpaying in a situation where they're just giving money to health insurance companies that instead could actually be going into their pockets in the form of higher salaries.

    Did he even take Econ 101? (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:33:29 AM EST
    Well, keep in mind that what we're talking about is imposing a tax or a fee on insurance companies for providing plans like that.

    So does he think these insurance companies are just going to pay more tax and swallow the hit to their bottom line instead of passing this on to consumers in the form of higher premiums?


    He magically has pull and input (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:45:51 AM EST
    that can affect the outcome now....but he didn't before.  He was powerless before and at the mercy of the Congress that he has instead of the Congress that he wishes that he had.  FECK!

    MT has a mind of her own and has for (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:25:29 PM EST
    sure reached her own conclusions.  Big time.

    Now I go read Booman today (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:33:59 PM EST
    and he has a post up about how the Obama WH now needs to stop dicking around and give the progressive base something to celebrate because we will lose the magic 60.  What a dumba$$.  That is in my own concluded opinion going to be one really really long wait for ya Booman of Ye Olde' Blind Faith.

    60 (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:08:21 PM EST
    is a pretty meaningless # IMO.  I think things will get better once we lose a few Senators.  Obama will have to fight more.  

    Remember how Obama was going to twist some arms and frame legislation in a way that forced votes?  Well he did it on the stimulus, not so much here w/ healthcare.  Losing a few Senators should force him to do more of that.


    He will either do more (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:48:14 PM EST
    Or have a better hiding place for his center right self.  I think the time for bold progressive moves is over though and I'll be shocked if Obama does more than fake a progressive attempt in the ten months.  His showdown with the unions may expose his true nature though and perhaps wishing for ponies can be replaced with actual activism.

    I think there will be a few bones (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:27:09 PM EST
    thrown our way, and Obama and the rest of the New Democrats will talk about it as if they had handed us the entire prime rib; we've already seen some of this, and I expect it will only get worse.

    Why torture yourself? (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:36:19 PM EST
    BTD started this sick fascination (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:40:37 PM EST
    with the insanity of Booman :)  It's his fault I can't stop staring at the trainwreck :)  Actually I responded to a Booman diary at Orange and then he responded back and blah blah blah and I actually know Booman.  I can't say that is an utterly bad thing, let's just say it has been a grand series of illuminations for me.  God that sounded good....I'm talking Maya Angelou proud of me GOOD!

    Do you have any dogs named Booman? (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:43:30 PM EST
    No!!! (none / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:49:43 PM EST
    I have no dog that I thought was going to be that challenged. (I'm still pretending that Maya is watching me)  I'm super bummed that my Tenacious BTD is not going to be a bigger dog.  He was a large pup, but he has not grown out large.  Even though he scored so well in his puppy class, he won't score well now as an adult and he is there now.  I was trying to figure out how to scam a new BTD name since I will be also keeping a male from my new litter this year along with the little girl.  I have six males to choose from and they are all jerks down to the very last one.  Their grandfather is such a bossy dog though as well as every son of his I've met in the ring too.  They bark right in your face just to get attention. This litter should have been the litter I BTD'd out of.

    Ha. (none / 0) (#24)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:02:51 PM EST
    The Rec list is looking a bit Obama (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:56:35 PM EST
    grim at Orange right now.  Surely someone over there has a really good photo diary in them just dying to burst forth.

    No cat photos for sharing? (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:03:15 PM EST
    I forgot (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 01:24:16 PM EST
    The pootie photo diary is the new troop pick me up when you are experiencing the five stages of grief.

    Logical answer would be (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dan the Man on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:19:02 AM EST
    Obama supports lowering the premium amount which would be considered a "Cadillac plan" and hence subject to the excise tax.  This extra money from the tax could then be used to pay for the subsidy.

    if he really tries (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:23:22 AM EST
    to pay for this by taxing health plans of middle class union households instead of the freakin super rich all hell will break loose.  and it should.

    Mr. Obama (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:48:23 AM EST
    is a trickle down economist, so you have more likelihood that pigs will grow wings and fly.

    Trumka has been arrested (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:34:58 PM EST
    I believe the revenue expectation from (none / 0) (#21)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 12:48:08 PM EST
    the "Cadillac tax" is primarily from the assumption that when plans become more "Chevrolet" the employer will pass that premium savings on to the employer as wages, and, in turn, more income tax will be paid on those increased wages.   The Chevrolet plans, in turn, are expected to hold the line on health care costs without diminishing  the quality of care, since "more does not mean better outcomes"   Nice.

    Affordability (none / 0) (#5)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:28:55 AM EST
    Maybe he is going to add rules for (none / 0) (#6)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:30:42 AM EST
    insurance companies to lower premiums in exchange for giving up the public option and keeping the mandate.

    Well, a girl can dream, can't she?