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Rich People With No Health Insurance Worries Vote On Public Option Today

Just sayin’- and frankly, this is about as much of this gobbledy-gook as I’m able to understand…

Apparently I’m not alone.

The 23-member panel will consider amendments sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that, if adopted, would add a public option into the panel’s health care reform bill.

Two things to keep in mind if you’re watching the hearing or reading news accounts about the developments: the two proposals are very different, and neither is expected to pass. The Rockefeller amendment is a version of what we’ve come to know as the “robust” public option. It would, for a time, be tied to Medicare, and, thereafter, be able to use the government’s considerable leverage to bargain down payment rates with providers.

The Schumer proposal, by contrast, is what we’ve come to know as the “level playing field” public option: much like the public option provided for in the Senate HELP Committee’s proposal, its rates would be negotiated by the government with providers, just as private health insurance companies are forced to do.

With neither expected to pass, it seems that we’re no closer to a nation of really helping the American people than we were last summer.

More below the fold.Which means states like mine continue to be screwed. And Olympia Snowe may be the only winner in this.

The wild card in the debate is Sen. Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican. Aides say she’s considering offering a compromise that would use the public option as a threat, to be deployed only if private insurers fail to keep premiums in check after a reasonable period of time.

If there’s a final bill this year, it’s possible that Snowe’s idea will be the one to carry the day.

Yeah- because certainly what’s happening in Maine’s insurance industry shows tremendous progress over the rest of the country…

Snowe also is seeking changes to the excise tax, and filed an amendment to lessen the tax’s impact on plans that cover people older than 55.

An amendment offered by Snowe would establish a “fallback” insurance plan offered by a non-profit government entity in states in which a specified proportion of residents do not have access to a low-priced private insurance plan. Often referred to as a public option “trigger,” the language would take effect only if less than 95% of residents have access to a plan that costs 13% of their income or less.

In other words, Snowe is proposing not a trigger, but a Catch-22:

In Snowe’s trigger amendment, if affordable coverage is not available for 95% of a state’s residents, then you get a public option in that state. While there are issues with state-based public health insurance options, the catch-22 comes with Snowe’s definition of affordability.

Affordable is defined as 13% of income. So, if there is no plan in the exchange that costs less than 13% of a person’s income, we’d get a public health insurance option. But that calculation of what a plan costs is made after the government pays out subsidies or employers pay their share. And therein lies the catch-22.

It’s clear: No public health insurance option anywhere in the country will ever be created under Snowe’s trigger amendment.

The trigger amendment isn’t a fig leaf. It isn’t even a co-op. It’s a plan to kill the public health insurance option outright, and give taxpayer money straight to private insurance companies.

Why does Senator Snowe want to deny choice and competition to her constituents, something they want? Why would she rather bail out the private insurance companies?

In a poll conducted September 14th by Lake Research Partners of 400 likely voters in Maine (with a margin of error of 4.9%), a strong majority – 58% – favor the creation of a “a public health insurance option to compete with private insurance companies.”

When asked if they favor or oppose “requiring everyone to buy and be covered by a private health insurance plan,” 55% of Mainers are opposed. When asked if they favor or oppose “requiring everyone to buy and be covered by a health insurance plan, with a choice between a public option and private insurance plans,” 55% favor.

If you ask Mainers if they should be required to buy private insurance, they’re against it, but if you ask them if they should be required to buy insurance, with a choice of public or private, they’re for it. The numbers exactly flip.

It’s clear the people of Maine understand that a trigger for a public health insurance option is not health care reform. They get the essential question: Will the private health insurance companies finally face competition, or will they keep their government-supported monopoly to continue screwing you over with skyrocketing rates and serial denial of care, subsidized with your taxpayer dollars.

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