Sunday :: Feb 7, 2010

Clever, Or Silly?


by Steve

Obama made some news tonight before the Super Bowl when he told CBS News that he would invite the congressional leadership of both parties to the White House on February 25th for a televised health care summit. Obama's calling the GOP’s bluff, wherein Republicans claim they’ve had good but ignored health care ideas for months. Mitch McConnell said he welcomes the move, as long as Obama shelved all the work done so far and agrees to start over, something that Obama thankfully has already rejected.

The GOP says they have an incremental approach that will reduce costs without adding trillions to the deficit. To that end, they are correct, as the plan John Boehner laid out back in November only cost $61 billion over ten years, because its aims were to accomplish so little. As evidenced by their proposal, the GOP has no interest in making insurance available to the uninsured; their only goal is to make it a little cheaper for those who already have insurance. The GOP freely admits this, as they claim that tackling the problem of the uninsured would cost too much and isn’t worth it. Besides, those folks don't vote GOP anyway.

Obama has already framed the session correctly:

The president offered a number of questions that his party would have for the Republicans.

“How do you guys want to lower costs? How do you guys intend to reform the insurance market so that people with pre-existing conditions, for example, can get health care?” he said. “How do you want to make sure that the 30 million people who don’t have health insurance can get it? What are your ideas specifically?”

The GOP doesn't have any ideas to expand coverage to the uninsured, and both sides know it. Oh sure, we'll hear Boehner, McConnell, and Cantor talk about the Holy Grail of tort reform, but beyond that the GOP has no plan to make useful health insurance more affordable for those who can't afford it now. The GOP would focus more on access to health care, not actual insurance, because the latter requires taking on the industry, and the GOP won't do anything to hurt the flow of campaign cash post-Citizens United. And that gets back to the notion of an incremental approach in an environment where the weak economy makes it way too easy for the GOP to scare people away from real reform.

So if the GOP wants to start small and focus on access instead of affordable insurance, what could Democrats do to box them in? Well, if the GOP really wants to deal with access to care, Democrats could push them to the wall and test their claim that they also want reform:

1. Obtain a huge increase in community clinics, which is already a part of the Senate health care reform bill;
2. Deal with the doctor shortage through a large expansion of the National Health Service Corps.
3. Get the market reforms and add a repeal of the industry’s anti-trust exemption; and
4. Encourage state and regional initiatives through CMS waivers and expanded Medicaid funding.

If the GOP wants to argue that we can't afford making insurance available to everyone, then Democrats can push the access and reform argument all the way.

Steve :: 8:29 PM :: Comments (0) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!