Ezra Klein points out that GOP’s health-care policy ideas are in Health Care Reform Bill

I found the following article in the Washington Post by Ezra Klein that points out some interesting facts about the Health Care Reform legislation the the GOP doesn’t really want people to know.

The six Republican ideas already in the health-care reform bill
By: Ezra Klein, Washington Post

At this point, I don’t think it’s well understood how many of the GOP’s central health-care policy ideas have already been included as compromises in the health-care bill. But one good way is to look at the GOP’s “Solutions for America” homepage, which lays out its health-care plan in some detail. It has four planks. All of them — yes, you read that right — are in the Senate health-care bill.

(1) “Let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines.” This is a long-running debate between liberals and conservatives. Currently, states regulate insurers. Liberals feel that’s too weak and allows for too much variation, and they want federal regulation of insurers. Conservatives feel that states over-regulate insurers, and they want insurers to be able to cluster in the state with the least regulation and offer policies nationwide, much as credit card companies do today.

To the surprise and dismay of many liberals, the Senate health-care bill included a compromise with the conservative vision for insurance regulation. The relevant policy is in Section 1333, which allows the formation of interstate compacts. Under this provision, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho (for instance) could agree to allow insurers based in any of those states to sell plans in all of them. This prevents a race to the bottom, as Idaho has to be comfortable with Arizona’s regulations, and the policies have to have a minimum level of benefits (something that even Rep. Paul Ryan believes), but it’s a lot closer to the conservative ideal.

(2) “Allow individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do.” This is the very purpose of the exchanges, as defined in Section 1312. Insurers are required to pool the risk of all the small businesses and individuals in the new markets rather than treating them as small, single units. That gives the newly pooled consumers bargaining power akin to that of a massive corporation or labor union, just as conservatives want. It also gives insurers reason to compete aggressively for their business, which is key to the conservative vision. Finally, empowering the exchanges to use prudential purchasing maximizes the power and leverage that consumers will now enjoy.

(3) “Give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs.” Section 1302 of the Senate bill does this directly. The provision is entitled “the Waiver for State Innovation,” and it gives states the power to junk the whole of the health-care plan — that means the individual mandate, the Medicaid expansion, all of it — if they can do it better and cheaper.

(4) “End junk lawsuits.” It’s not entirely clear what this means, as most malpractice lawsuits actually aren’t junk lawsuits. The evidence on this is pretty clear: The malpractice problem is on operating tables, not in court rooms. Which isn’t to deny that our current system is broken for patients and doctors alike. The Senate bill proposes to deal with this in Section 6801, which encourages states to develop new malpractice systems and suggests that Congress fund the most promising experiments. This compromise makes a lot of sense given the GOP’s already-expressed preference for letting states “create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs,” but since what the Republicans actually want is a national system capping damages, I can see how this compromise wouldn’t be to their liking.

(5) To stop there, however, does the conservative vision a disservice. The solutions the GOP has on its Web site are not solutions at all, because Republicans don’t want to be in the position of offering an alternative bill. But when Republicans are feeling bolder — as they were in Bush’s 2007 State of the Union, or John McCain’s plan — they generally take aim at one of the worst distortions in the health-care market: The tax break for employer-sponsored insurance. Bush capped it. McCain repealed it altogether. Democrats usually reject, and attack, both approaches.

Not this year, though. Senate Democrats initially attempted to cap the exclusion, which is what Bush proposed in 2007. There was no Republican support for the move, and Democrats backed off from the proposal. They quickly replaced it, however, with the excise tax, which does virtually the same thing. The excise tax only applies to employer-sponsored insurance above a certain price point, and it essentially erases the preferential tax treatment for every dollar above its threshold.

(6) And finally, we shouldn’t forget the compromises that have been the most painful for Democrats, and the most substantive. This is a private-market plan. Not only is single-payer off the table, but at this point, so too is the public option. The thing that liberals want most in the world has been compromised away.

On Sunday, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell responded to Barack Obama’s summit invitation by demanding Obama scrap the health-care reform bill entirely. This is the context for that demand. What they want isn’t a bill that incorporates their ideas. They’ve already got that. What they want is no bill at all. And that’s a hard position for the White House to compromise with.

I find it interesting that the “Party of No!” continues to lie to the American people about the truth of health reform legislation. The fact that they will go so far as to oppose the very principles they claim to support is truly sad.

  3 comments for “Ezra Klein points out that GOP’s health-care policy ideas are in Health Care Reform Bill

  1. Robert Lauten
    February 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    ObamaCare is the first two of the four Articles of Impeachment.

    http://www.larouchepac.com/lpactv?nid=13125

  2. February 8, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Chris,
    In case you had not heard, Obama has proposed to scrap the NASA manned space program, to replace the shuttle system and get us back to the Moon. It’s called the Constellation Program. If Obama gets he way, 20,000 more jobs will be lost, on top of the 5.8 million jobs lost since Obama took over.
    The last I checked, Obama claimed he was a Democrat. But if he were a Democrat, WHY would he spit on the NASA Space Program, the greatest achievement of the US in the last 50 years????? , John F. Kennedy’s Apollo Program, was a TREMENDOUS success in many ways to this day!!!!!
    So, the future of this nation and the world depends on science and technological progress. The space program has been the bastion of the means of bringing new discoveries to bear on the economy, AND NOW OBAMA SCHEDULES THAT FOR OBLITERATION!!!
    With the Nazi health bill, Obama will kill the old, the sick, the handicapped, and those who are deemed NOT WORTH SPENDING THE MONEY ON TO HELP!! With his killer approach to destroying the NASA Space Program, Obama is KILLING FUTURE GENERATIONS!!!!

    The verdict is in!!! Obama MUST RESIGN OR BE IMPEACHED!!!

    Perhaps Obama’s National Finance Campign Director, the Republican Bush Supporter Penny Pritzker of Chicago can get Obama a job, AFTER HE LEAVES.
    After all, between Penny and that great Democrat “Billionaire Warren Buffet,” who Obama used to sneak off and meet with in 2004, Obama is just probably going back to his real roots!!!

  3. Jo
    February 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Obama’s health care advisor,Ezekiel Emanuel has written that health services should not be guaranteed to “individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.”
    He also stated, “An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” Emmanuel co-authored in the medical journal The Lancet in January 2008 which read in part: “Unlike allocation [of healthcare] by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination. Every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age.
    “Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years.
    “Treating 65-year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.”
    Now what would of been decided for Bill Clinton if Emmanuel rules the roost? Of course it would come under the direction of the Health Care Choice Services Director. Smacks of Soylent Green and you better Logan’s Run.

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