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Kill the Senate Bill

On MSNBC, I was asked what I thought about Howard Dean’s call to kill the Senate bill.

I agree with him.  From what we know about the bill, it is worse than passing nothing.

When urging its passage today, President Obama said two things that are manifestly untrue.  He says that the bill fulfills all of the promises he made in his September speech before a joint session of Congress, but it doesn’t.

What the President said in September:

They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime.

But while nobody was looking, Harry Reid slipped in an “arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year”:

A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer, prompting a rebuke from patient advocates.

The President Obama also said that “what ever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce cost for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill.”  Not true either.

As we speak, Frank Lautenberg and Kay Hagan are destroying Byron Dorgan’s drug reimportation amendment by making a bunch of bullshit claims about drug safety.  The danger of transferring drugs from a CVS warehouse in Canada to a CVS store in the United States?  Zip.  But they’re pretending that everything is coming from Chinese counterfeiters to keep something that could save the government $19 billion and the public over $100 billion from passing so the White House deal  with PhRMA can be upheld.  The Dorgan amendment could have been a way of honestly bending the cost curve, something the President campaigned on.

Instead, the “bend” comes from taxing middle class insurance benefits, which makes them worseAccording to the CSM report released last week:

In reaction to the tax, many employers would reduce the scope of their health benefits. The resulting reductions in covered services and/or increases in employee cost-sharing requirements would induce workers to use fewer services. Because plan benefit values would generally increase faster than the threshold amounts for defining high-cost plans (which are indexed by the CPI plus 1 percent), over time additional plans would become subject to the excise tax, prompting those employers to scale back coverage.

The cost curve gets “bent” by making the insurance you have through your employer worse.  Remember Harry and Louise?  They killed health care reform during the Clinton administration by making this claim. Well, now it’s actually going to be true.

Congratulations, President Obama.  This is the “win” you’ve been working toward.  Joe Lieberman kicks the entire Democratic party in the teeth and you thank him for it.  He writes the bill, and you go on national TV and have to misrepresent what’s in it in order to find anything good to say.

And Ben Nelson isn’t even done working his Bart Stupak magic.

If I wanted Joe Lieberman writing a health care bill, I would’ve voted for John McCain.

Howard Dean is right.  Kill LieberCare.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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