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Health Care War Games

Matt Miller at the Washington Post published an interesting fantasy this morning (h/t Big Tent Democrat):

Health care’s federal future, brought to you by the GOP

“Good afternoon, I’m Brian Williams reporting from Washington, where it looks like October 26, 2017, will be a day that truly goes down in history. In a few moments, at a table not far from where I now stand, President Hillary Clinton will sign into law the universal health-care legislation – “Medicare for All,” as she calls it – that completes a journey Mrs. Clinton began nearly 25 years ago. Back then, as first lady, her attempt to reform the health-care system proved a fiasco that cost Democrats their hold on power. Who would have thought then – or later, when President Barack Obama’s big health reform was overturned by the Supreme Court in a controversial 5 to 4 ruling in 2012 – that today’s bipartisan bill would be the result? For some perspective on the twists and turns of history, we’re joined by NBC’s David Gregory. David, health reform seemed dead in the water in 2012. How did we get from that Supreme Court ruling to today?”

“Brian, when historians look back on this period, they’ll see it as a classic case of shortsighted politics – of Republicans winning the battle but losing the war. It really dates to the fight to overturn Barack Obama’s health reform. There’s no question the GOP got a boost from that ‘victory’ – it galvanized their base, and, combined with high unemployment and the dollar crisis right before the 2012 election, denied President Obama a second term.

The vision in that Washington Post story isn’t meant to be rosy.  Yeah,  there’s that (to me) lovely bit about Hillary signing Medicare for Everyone into law.  But, in this fantasy the only way we get there is by living through a pretty horrific period between now and then.  It’s more like a post-apocalyptic tale — with Hillary and Medicare for Everyone in the role of “the end of the world”.

As usual, this vision discusses the hard statistics of the health care crisis (the estimated 70 million without access to health care)  like a game.  A fake video-game-war where Republicans get a “victory” with a Supreme Court ruling and Democrats end up “winning” with President Hillary Clinton and Medicare for Everyone (ooohhh, scary!)

Well, it’s a fake game:

I don’t know that The Affordable Health Care Act is all that affordable — I still can’t figure out how people making just above 400% of poverty are supposed to keep up with the ever-rising premiums.  And what happens if/when a future Senate decides that the subsidies for those whose incomes are under 400% are an entitlement that we just can’t afford anymore? Suddenly what was affordable isn’t so affordable anymore.

So with or without The Affordable Health Care Act, premiums and the numbers of uninsured will rise…..

And I can’t figure out who’s winning that game.

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Sitting at Obama’s table: The Secret Health Care Talks

New York Times

New York Times

Does anyone else want to burst into tears when they read about millionaires trying to make health care affordable?

Health Care Industry in Talks to Shape Policy

Since last fall, many of the leading figures in the nation’s long-running health care debate have been meeting secretly in a Senate hearing room. Now, with the blessing of the Senate’s leading proponent of universal health insurance, Edward M. Kennedy, they appear to be inching toward a consensus that could reshape the debate.

(snip)

While not all industry groups are in complete agreement, there is enough of a consensus, according to people who have attended the meetings, that they have begun to tackle the next steps: how to enforce the requirement for everyone to have health insurance; how to make insurance affordable to the uninsured; and whether to require employers to help buy coverage for their employees.

(snip)

Kennedy aides summarized discussions of the stakeholders, known as the “workhorse group,” in a recent memorandum obtained by The New York Times.

“While there was some diversity of views,” it said, “the sense of the room is that an individual obligation to purchase insurance should be part of reform if that obligation is coupled with effective mechanisms to make coverage meaningful and affordable.”

The ideas discussed include a proposal to penalize people who fail to comply with the “individual obligation” to have insurance.

(snip)

Their motives vary. Some say the moment to overhaul the health care system has arrived because of a confluence of events, including Mr. Obama’s election, the growing number of uninsured and the relentless increase in health costs. Some want to protect the interests of their members and could ultimately oppose the legislation, depending on its details.

(sigh)

Not once in the article is there a definition of “affordable” — which makes me doubly (if possible) skeptical of the eventual plan. But, then lets look at who’s doing the talking: Continue reading