Monday, March 08, 2010

Recent change of my position on health insurance reform

For those of you reading this blog recently, it has probably become apparent that in the past few months I've switched by position on the health insurance reform debate from being against what I perceived to be a not especially good bill from the Senate on the being for the passing of the reform bill with reconciliation to follow.

I've said in the past that the Senate bill contains too many concessions to Republican interests, too many concessions to the insurance and pharma industries, and too few moves to actually address all the complexities of health care in the United States (despite the ridiculous Republican argument that the bill has too many pages). Though > 70% of the American population wants health care reform, < 25% think the Senate bill is any good.

It seemed to me at the time that the Republicans were gearing up to propose good and needed changes to the Senate bill, and that they would work with the majority to hash things out. None of this occurred.

Instead, the Republicans started to be myopic in their quest to stop all progress on everything, inciting clever names for their maneuver, like "The Tarentino" because they "kill bills". All their ideas were summed up (as seen largely in the bipartisan health care summit recently) in proposals that have been rejected as counterproductive by independent analysis available to the Senate and the President, expansion of ideas that we have today already that aren't helping, supposed promotion of competition from markets that are too small to actually compete, loosening regulation of insurance though public participation in insurance is failing while insurance industry profits soar, etc. Essentially the Republicans have suggested everything that we have already tried and failed with historically, or ideas that are antithetical to reforming the problem that is occurring.

And that is the reason why I felt my position on the issue needed to take a 180, and support a not-so-good bill with the understanding that reconciliation will happen afterward. And there are a number of parts that have been established to hold insurance companies accountable as well as protect the public in general. Some of which include:

  • Review process of unreasonable increases in premiums

  • Appeals process for people denied on a claim

  • Rebates for policy holders from insurance with high administrative costs

  • Public disclosure of administrative costs

  • Sweeping requirement of preventative services

  • Deficit neutral

I think that despite the initial obvious shortcomings of the Senate bill, the benefits to the public are good compared to a doing absolutely nothing and opposition to everything.  So, thus I find myself supporting reconciliation of the bill under the current sociopolitical environment.

Hope that makes sense.