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Chuck Schumer Might Need to Watch His Back

You tell 'em, Chuck!

You tell 'em, Chuck!

Wow! In an interview with Huffington Post over the long weekend, Chuck Schumer said that with Franken seated, there is no more need for compromise on health care legislation.

Schumer offered a detailed and frank assessment of the political landscape of the current health care debate. Predicting that the final bill will include a public plan, he painted the Republican Party as rigid to a fault when it comes to negotiations.

“This is where we are going to end up,” he said of a health care overhaul that included a public plan. “And I think, it would be much better for the Senate Finance Committee if we did it in the committee… I think the Senate HELP committee compromised already, because you have a lot of members on the HELP committee who would’ve liked [the public option] to be much closer to Medicare. The idea seems to be catching everybody’s imagination, and sense of fairness. And the only holdouts are sort of ideologues on the Republican side of this saying no government involvement whatsoever.”

Schumer didn’t add, but I will that we have a President who is too wimpy to stand up to the Republicans and fight for a public option and who opposes singer payer because it would “suddenly upend” the current health care system.

Back to Schumer:

“My bottom-line criteria is that it has to be strong, national, and available to everyone on day one, to keep the insurance companies honest and I’m not sure we can get there,” Schumer said. “I’ve been talking to [Sen.] Olympia [Snowe] about this,” he added, referring to the trigger option’s main proponent in the Senate, “but I’m not sure we can bridge that gap.”

Similarly critical remarks were offered for the idea of replacing a public plan with health care co-ops, which Schumer described as insufficient and unpractical.

“[Sen. Chuck] Grassley hasn’t closed the door, but it seems in general that his model of co-op is little co-ops popping up like they do in farm country,” he said. “And the model that we are saying we need is they have to be strong, national and available everywhere from the first day. And I think we are very far apart on this.”

I wonder if the Senator from New York has discussed this with the big boss. Hasn’t Obama been making noises about compromising on the public option in order to get Republication votes? And then when people keep complaining, “expressing concern” about grass roots effort to get single payer health care?

Can Schumer withstand the presidential blowback? I just hope he sticks to his guns, even after Obama returns from his latest trip and starts talking about compromise and trying his best to make sure his buddies in the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations are well taken of. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I do have hope.

And maybe Shumer has been hearing from his constitutents. Today’s Washington Post has an interesting on-line post by Doug Feaver on the views of “health-care lobbyists vs. real people

Our Readers Who Comment are nearly unanimous this morning in condemning the news that more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress are lobbying for major health-care firms in the legislative attempts to reform the broken system.

Feaver provides a sampling of reader responses. Here are a few examples:

sashab1 wrote, “…Single-payer, universal health care is the only reform that will actually work. The insurance industry is going to water down the public option until it won’t work, and they will be back in business (and we will be wringing our hands again) in a couple of years.”

lionelroger predicted that “Obama will most certainly be a one-termer if he falls in with a corrupt Congress and does not deliver a public option Plan or single-payer universal health care… It is a monumental travesty for Congress and Federal employees to enjoy a cafeteria-style Health Benefits Plan subsidized by taxpayers but not available to all our citizens. Enough of this injustice.”

texanrme said, “This a war for the survival of those that have profited at the expense of the sick and elderly for generations… They want to argue how government can not handle healthcare administration, but they have proven beyond a doubt that neither can they…”

Of course some commenters still think that Obama is looking out for their best interests, but it does seem that generally people are starting to wake up and smell the corruption.

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61 Responses

  1. But it doesn’t really matter if they include a public option at this point, because it will not work. Unless everyone is included, the costs will skyrocket. True?

    • That’s what Schumer said. Now I want to see him back it up. He’s a very powerful Senator.

      • “Predicting that the final bill will include a public plan.”

        Oh, it sounds like he is supporting the public option, not single payer.

      • He’ll back down BB. Obama will put the squeeze on him or…”someone’ will let it be known that “THEY” own him. either way. I doubt we will ever see a Single Payer or a Public option that truly benefits the people!

    • It depends on how they do it. If BOTH the public and the private plans have the same criteria: I.e available nationwide, they must take all comers with no exclusions, cover the same mandatory things, etc, then it will be a true head-to-head matchup of who can do it more efficiently and cheaper.

      The rub is, is that what they are planning to do?

      • I know it’s all iffy. What has me excited is that Schumer seems to be standing up to Obama a little bit.

        • Well, I’ll wait to see whether he stands his ground, or gets slapped down and suddenly does an about-face, or goes quiet, or starts spouting the weasel-words.

          I hope he stands.

          • Chuck was the congressman from the part of Brooklyn that I am from.
            I think he is a pretty stand up guy. I think he will fight for what is right and I do not think that he is too worried about what Obama thinks.

          • Schumer may stand up here. He seems to be more a divison of Goldman-Sachs and Citi than of Aetna and BCBS. It matters who their sponsors are in these things.

            That’s why I want them to wear contributor decals on their jackets.

      • Nope. The HELP bill doesn’t allow for anyone to buy the public plan. First, if you have employee-based insurance, according to Kutter at American Prospect, you are not eligible for the public plan. Second, according to my reading of the bill, if your insurance premiums are less than 12% of your salary, you are not eligible for the public plan. About 10-15 million Americans will be eligible for the public plan. It’s MA health reform all over again, which has done nothing to “keep insurers honest”. Further, there is an amendment being discussed in the Senate, which would stop Government payments to hospitals that provide care for the uninsured. They did this in MA with devastating results.

    • true, at least that is my opinion. I would rather the plan not get passed, a few more years of suffering and finally someone will have the guts to explain to the american people exactly why single payer is the only option that will work and exactly what that means to us all, to business and to the survival of our economy.

      • Remember how long it took after the Clinton plan failed?

        • yeah, but things are much worse now.

          • That is why we have to strike now. The Dems have both houses and the presidency. There will not be a better time to do this.

    • We now have 60 votes for cloture and then they can vote for or against it on its merits.

  2. ummmmm . share button if you please and thank you very much !

  3. I fully understand that no plan is perfect, and every solution, even a public option, has its drawbacks.

    But the insurance companies and their lobbyists and congressweasels can bleat all day long that they are afraid that a public plan would be awful, and inefficient, and substandard, and they in their benevolence want to spare us that.

    When the truth is that they are terrified that a public option will WORK, be cheaper, more efficient, less headaches, and that most people will choose that , given the choice. THAT is their fear. If they are so sure they can do health insurance better and cheaper than the govt, then prove it in a head-to-head matchup, bastards.

  4. Stealing from my Facebook status:

    “The president says he likes audacious goals. Here is one: ask medical providers to eliminate all hospital-acquired infections within two years.”

    After spending an entire day dealing with a family member’s post-hospital infection, I’ve gotta say: I like this idea a lot!

    • Hi Katiebird!

      Good idea, probably will never happen. Can you put in the socialist links?

      • Hospital acquired infections are definitely a critical piece of healthcare costs.

    • You’re quick! Thank you, KB.

    • Great idea. Doctors and administrators are some of the solution, but mostly it’s the nurses and the nurses aides who need to get on this. They have more hands on the patients than anyone. They are in and out of patient rooms, touching them, touching everything.

      Do not get me started on the sorry state of nursing and nursing instruction in this country. It’s awful. If I pulled half the crap I see nurses pull on a daily basis, I’d not have been allowed to graduate, back in the day. Of course, my Director of Nursing was an old Army battle-axe, who brooked NO excuses and did not tolerate failure. She was fired shortly after I graduated, because she refused to “pass” nurses who couldn’t cut it.

      • WMCB, are you still a nurse? My husband is just starting nursing school. I’ll make sure he’s washing his hands. : )

        • I’m retired, other than doing a lot of hubby’s paperwork and electronic billing from home (he’s a doc.)

    • Ah, yes. My mother was in the hospital last Sept and acquired a hospital only infection. They rushed her to ICU until they got it under control, though. She never fully recovered, and came very close to not surviving it. They refused to acknowledge what she had until a pain management specialist at the hospital had her file a few months later and spilled the beans.

    • They need to do retraining of the supervisors in charge of sanitation/environmental care.

    • Wow on the stats. We had a friend who went in to get a foot ulcer taken care of and left with nail scratches up and down his back, that you guessed it resulted in an infection. He ended up needing to be there for a month instead of a few days!

  5. BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Single Payer Health Insurance | PBS

  6. Health Care ’09 Rally Sens. Brown,Menendez, Mikulski, Schumer and Rep. Charles Rangel (why isn’t he media covering these rallies?)

    • (http://ourfuture.org)—Several thousand people rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol June 25 in support of health care reform and heard key Democratic members of Congress vow that they would fight for a public health insurance option as part of that reform. The rally was the centerpiece of the “Health Care ’09: We Can’t Wait” lobby day organized by Health Care for America Now!

      Sens. Sherrod Brown, Robert Menendez and Barbara Mikulski are featured in this video. Several other members of Congress, including Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Charles Rangel, participated in the rally. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who recently launched a nationwide petition campaign supported by more than 350,000 people in support of a public health insurance option, was a key speaker at the rally.

      Remember July 9th, 2009, get your sign and call up your representatives and let them know…NO MORE EXCUSES, IT’S TIME TO DO SOMETHING! PEOPLE LIVES ARE AT STAKE EVERY DAY.

    • because Michael Jackson is still dead.

      I HATE the media…

      and Oh, BTW, Obama doesn’t want to talk about single payer so, if there was any talk of that at the rallies, then the media wouldn’t cover it.

      • Michael Jackson is still dead? No, surely not.

        • OK, but on Wednesday they have better start doing their jobs! I don’t care who Debbie Rowe is cuzzing out or trying to body slam. I want a Single Payer Option on the table of discussion, no more excuses.

  7. Do we have a place we can look at the amendments being offered up to the Senate Health bill?

    I was just reading The Sideshow and noted she had a valid point about everyone having the ability to access the public plan(which might actually get us to single payer). It does us no good to get a public plan if people will not be able to opt into it and are forced to stay with a substandard for profit model that is offered up by their employer.

    • I have friends who are worried because of a limit on letting people drop insurance they get through employers to go on the public plan. But, I read somewhere (and forgot the source) that if your employer’s health plan costs over 12.5% of your income you can move to the public plan (HELP Plan) — at the place I used to work the clerks had to pay over 50% of their income for health insurance. They used to take 100% of insurance out of the first paycheck of the month but, they had to change it (to 50% each paycheck) when too many people got negative paychecks that first time.

      • Yes, that is the latest. Here is a bunch more info.


      • Walmart used to take out 1/3 of each paycheck for its decent co pay insurance. It worked out to 25% of pay for someone there after three years. It would have been worse for those starting entry level.

      • What does that even mean — 12.5% of income? Do they think that those lucky among us whose employers “pay for” their health care aren’t in reality paying for it themselves through lower wages? (At least that’s the excuse my employer gives for our far-below-market pay.) And what does that mean for the self-employed? Aargh.

        • I wonder what that will mean for those of us with caps that fall in the below 12.5% too.

          We definitely fall in the under 12.5%. We have a fairly decent plan but it does carry a million dollar lifetime benefit that could mean catastrophe in the event of something like cancer.

    • Here is a draft in PDF. I don’t know how to tell if it’s the latest, but it was at the top of the google search.

      Click to access HRdraft1xml.pdf

    • Text of H.R. 676

      This bill has no amendments.
      Amendments to H.R.676

      United States National Health Care Act or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act – Establishes the United States National Health Care (USNHC) Program to provide all individuals residing in the United States and U.S. territories with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care.
      Prohibits an institution from participating unless it is a public or nonprofit institution. Allows nonprofit health maintenance organizations (HMOs) that deliver care in their own facilities to participate. Gives patients the freedom to choose from participating physicians and institutions. Prohibits a private health insurer from selling health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act. Allows such insurers to sell benefits that are not medically necessary, such as cosmetic surgery benefits. Sets forth methods to pay institutional providers of care and health professionals for services. Prohibits financial incentives between HMOs and physicians based on utilization. Establishes the USNHC Trust Fund to finance the Program with amounts deposited:
      (1) from existing sources of government revenues for health care;
      (2) by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% income earners;
      (3) by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income; and
      (4) by instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions. Transfers and appropriates to carry out this Act amounts that would have been appropriated for federal public health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Requires the USNHC Program to give first priority in retraining and job placement and USNHC employment transition benefits to individuals whose jobs are eliminated due to reduced administration. Requires creation of a confidential electronic patient record system.
      Establishes a National Board of Universal Quality and Access to provide advice on quality, access, and affordability. Provides for:
      (1) the eventual integration of the Indian Health Service into the Program; and
      (2) evaluation of the continued independence of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health programs.

      According to open congress it has no amendments, but it also has been stuck since it was introduced on 1/26/2009.

      • Sadly, I don’t think that HR 676 would make it through. we’re having a hard enough time trying to get a public plan through that might lead to single payer.

        The upside is the public plan makes it easy to argue with Republicans that they are the ones standing against a free market solution and I do believe if implemented correctly it could lead to single payer( yes I do understand there is equal chance that it will get screwed up).

        • If George Bush II with Collin Powell could sell them (congress) on starting a war that didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction, then some thing like Single Payer is doable if their hearts are not corrupt by money and big lobbies. The war would have paid for ten years of Universal Health Care for every American!

        • If single payer now isn’t the clear goal, whatever compromise that comes out will be the worse for it.

          That old “perfect is the enemy of the good” doesn’t work in these political times. FWIW.

  8. Cancer Victim (at 22 years old) Rips Hypocrites in Congress over Single Payer Issue

    • Adrienne Campbell of Dearborn, MI, was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 22. Her insurer denied coverage for a highly suspect legal reason. Ms. Campbell went $8,000 in debt to cover the cost of her treatment. At age 26, and uninsured, she developed ovarian cancer. Currently, at age 27, shes over $10,000 in debt, but, mercifully, cancer free. At a rally on Capitol Hill, on May 13, 2009, in support of a Single Payer Healthcare system, Ms. Campbell said: “I’m angry that these politicians, (read member of the U.S. Congress), get their health care handed to them on a silver platter, courtesy of our tax dollars. I want the same high quality of health care for me, my family and every single American.” Ms. Campbell is supporting HR 676 and S 703. Meanwhile, on May 5, 2009, Single Payer advocates, were barred from having their voices heard by the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). Only the “Fat Cats” from the HMOs, Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industries were welcomed at his table. In fact, eight activists, “The Baucus Eight”, were arrested for challenging the rigged system. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncb58qnDyxs&feature=channel_page
      For background and any updates on the cause of Single Payer, see: http://www.healthcare-now.org and
      http://singlepayeraction.org and http://md.pnhp.org and
      http://www.prosperityagenda.us/ and http://freshaircleanpolitics.net and http://www.calnurses.org/

      Yup, it’s time to do something, start getting those signs ready.

  9. Single Payer Action v Nancy Pelosi “Madame Speaker, put Single Payer back on the Table NOW!”

  10. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/06/michelle-obama-family-cha_n_226066.html

    There is no news more important that what the Obama women are wearing in Russia. BTW – since Obama insists on “parading his daughters around the world” does this mean they are now fair game for the late night comedians?

    Oh, and look at how rude the bored expressions are on MO’s face … did someone purposely choose the photos that are the most offensive looks on her face?


    Sorry – OT

  11. Daily Howler’s title today. Somerby is at them again,

    PURDUM DRINKS THE EVERCLEAR! Todd got rolled by Wasilla’s top shrinks, like famous “fools” before him:

  12. New post upstairs!

  13. No need to blame him as being a lone holdout either.

  14. Just saw this headline

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sarah Palin says she’s not a quitter, she’s a fighter, but adds that, politically speaking, “if I die, I die.

    I don’t think that will happen…however the sad part is , Obama breaks every promise, doesn’t even stands pat, but gins up Bush’s work…..and many of his supporters would think it some sort of “victory” if Palin leaves public life….sad

  15. >>>>Similarly critical remarks were offered for the idea of replacing a public plan with health care co-ops, which Schumer described as insufficient and unpractical.

    AP editors – helloooo! – “unpractical” is not a word.
    Try “impractical” next time.

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