Health care reform, as currently formulated in the Senate bill and the planned reconciliation, is much better for the insurance industry than it is for the public. While I am sympathetic to my fellow progressives who support the current bill, I believe base political pragmatism and not the public good is the real reason it will (probably) pass.
Here's why . . .
It's surely a bad sign that insurance companies support the Democratic health care reform bill. Why shouldn't they? Federal law will compel millions of new customers to buy their product, with the federal government subsidizing the policies of those who cannot afford it. Without the public option to foster genuine competition, the mandate is "a gift" to the insurance industry, in the words of frequent MSNBC guest and former Cigna executive Wendell Potter.
(And just wait until the Republicans run endless October commercials reminding voters that the new law requires them to buy insurance. Oh, the "Harry and Louise" ad that will make!)
President Obama made a backroom deal with the insurance companies last year to keep the public option out of the final bill, in exchange for them not advertising against it. Obama and Nancy Pelosi have been lying to us about that deal and feigning support for the public option ever since. That this head-exploding revelation has not garnered more attention is a wonder. I would dearly like to ask the President why this deal is in the interest of the average American and why, if it is, he kept the deal secret.
Much is made of the ban on denying coverage based on a preexisting condition. However, there is nothing in the current bill to stop the common practice of raising rates on unwanted customers until they are forced to drop their coverage. Until this heinous practice is curbed, the ban on preexisting-condition denial is flashy but not meaningful.
Many progressives assert hopefully that the current bill will be the initial framework upon which more solid health care reform may be erected in the future. But what will change next year? The insurance companies will still be against the public option, along with anything else that will better for us than them. Republicans will still froth at the mouth at the most modest proposals and call Dems mean names. What will make Dem pols any braver next time?
The only reason to support this weak-cheese bill at this point is to give Democrats a political win. To what end? With profound incompetence, they have completely whiffed on the signature Progressive proposal. What the hell good are they?