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Ear to the Ground

Public Option in Critical Condition

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Posted on Jul 7, 2009
Flickr / Paul Keleher

President Obama and most Democrats see a government-run health plan that competes with private insurers as vital to real health care reform, but a veto- and filibuster-proof majority just ain’t what it used to be. In the face of a massive lobbying effort, the White House has indicated a willingness to shelve the public option.

Wall Street Journal:

The president and his aides already have signaled a willingness to consider an alternative to a public plan under which a network of nonprofit cooperatives would compete with for-profit insurance companies. That is the leading idea in the Senate Finance Committee.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, meanwhile, has put forward its own version of a government-run plan, closer to what most liberals and the White House favor.

On Monday, [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel said the trigger mechanism would also accomplish the White House’s goals. Under this scenario, a public plan would kick in under certain circumstances when competition was judged to be lacking. Exactly what circumstances would trigger the option would have to be worked out.

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By Sepharad, July 21, 2009 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

Blue Eagle, are you crazy or sociopathic or just lucky? (Or impossibly so far right you’re falling off your chair?)

If all it took for good health was to eat organic food, exercise and dodge pharmaceutical drugs, don’t you think we would all be doing it now and enjoying perfect health? I know many people who eat well, exercise, do not take unnecessary pills (I’m one of them) and still have health conditions that would be quickly lethal and/or forever painful and disabling) were it not for pharmaceutical drugs. Applying your formula to the entire population might be Darwinian, but you’de be throwing a lot of people under a truck going 100mph.

Have you ever had someone you love stricken with a painful chronic disease, or a swift-acting nasty cancer or anything other than a common cold? If your answer is “no”, you are either very lucky or have never loved any one enough to care about them, let alone people you don’t know.

I’m unreservedly with jacksmith and ExAm.

When Obama campaigned he said he’d get every citizen the healt coverage that he and other D.C. pols have. Let’s remind him.

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By duesa, July 21, 2009 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Holy cow. jacksmith’s comment almost sounds halfway logical until you read the parts where it says, “Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust government-run public option for all Americans,”
and, “If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.”

Don’t give up your guns, and do not vote for a government-run = government-OWNED healthcare program. Socialism is one step closer to communism, and the “common good” is a big, fuggin lie.

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By jacksmith, July 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


The healthcare reform bill released by the House Of Representatives is an excellent bill as I understand it. It’s a bill with a strong, robust, government-run public option, and an intelligent, reasonable initial funding plan to cover almost all of the American people. It is carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. This bill will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives.

This is the type of bill that all Americans can feel good about. And this is the type of bill that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans.  Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. This bill has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

The house healthcare bill should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind this healthcare reform bill released by the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.

You should all now support this bill with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. This healthcare bill is a VERY, VERY GOOD! bill for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of this bill if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for this bill.

From this time forward, go BIGGER and DEEPER with the American people every day until passage of healthcare reform with a robust, government-run public option.

FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!



God Bless You

Jack Smith — Working Class

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By bogi666, July 9, 2009 at 5:13 am Link to this comment

gilder, great comment “we’re Democrats and we’re going to do Fascism the right way” thanks

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By BlueEagle, July 7, 2009 at 9:42 pm Link to this comment

Obamacare… we are so screwed.

The more power you give to The State the more power it has over you. If The State controls your medical records, it will also take advantage of that information.

Sick care reform should be getting the government out of the care system all together.

The only Obama making any difference is Michelle. At least she’s telling people to start growing their own wholesome organic food. Freedom gardens are what every politician should be endorsing. Everyone should stop looking to The State for solutions.

Case in point; a recent MRI through insurance was $2300 and the cash price was $530, and I had it done 3 hours later. How much do you think it will be under government control? How long do you think it will take?

The solution to the health problem in America is simple. Eat a plant-based organic local whole foods based diet and stop taking any pharmaceutical drugs. Problem solved.

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By jacksmith, July 7, 2009 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.



Join the fight.

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You


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By Sepharad, July 7, 2009 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

Bad news. The NYTimes just ran a front-page story on the Seattle health cooperative and Obama said it was something he’d consider. Time to email and call our sens, reps, and the Obama people. If he screws this up I’m never voting Democratic again. No matter what.

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By glider, July 7, 2009 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ezra Klein’s Washington Post column quotes from the Congressional testimony of Wendell Potter, a 20-year exec at Cigna, explaining how the health insurance industry’s business model is incompatible with health itself:

  The industry, Potter says, is driven by “two key figures: earnings per share and the medical-loss ratio, or medical-benefit ratio, as the industry now terms it. That is the ratio between what the company actually pays out in claims and what it has left over to cover sales, marketing, underwriting and other administrative expenses and, of course, profits…”

  The best way to drive down “medical-loss,” explains Potter, is to stop insuring unhealthy people.  And the insurance industry accomplishes this through two main policies. “One is policy rescission,” says Potter. “They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment…”

  The issue isn’t that insurance companies are evil. It’s that they need to be profitable. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit for shareholders. And as Potter explains, he’s watched an insurer’s stock price fall by more than 20 percent in a single day because the first-quarter medical-loss ratio had increased from 77.9 percent to 79.4 percent.

  The reason we generally like markets is that the profit incentive spurs useful innovations. But in some markets, that’s not the case. We don’t allow a bustling market in heroin, for instance, because we don’t want a lot of innovation in heroin creation, packaging and advertising. Are we really sure we want a bustling market in how to cleverly revoke the insurance of people who prove to be sickly?

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By samd2, July 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your politicians have excellent medical coverage and care. How do you expect them to relate to the average American who is denied care or has inadequate coverage? They are more beholden to the money-mongers in your failed medical system.

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By glider, July 7, 2009 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t want an Obama “patch” or “system tweak” that will increase insurance industry profits by forcing people and government subsidies to buy overpriced policies that pay for insurance company overhead that exists to optimize their customer base to low risk healthy customers.  However, I am under no illusion.  The “public option” will be crippled by the corporate-legislative fascists running our government.  Obama is an “enabler” in this process using “bipartisonship” as cover.  I will personally celebrate no settlement versus what these as*holes will produce.

From the beginning I felt Obama had oratory skills that exceeded those of JFK and was excited that he could be a great president.  But by not backing rhetoric with aggressive action Obama is developing a reputation as a duplicitous talking head.  If he blows it here with health care irreparable harm will be done to the people’s image of his presidency.  If this continues it may not be long till we will hear audiences mocking and heckling his empty silky speeches.  I am not writing Obama off yet.  But he is very close to this point.

Why does the USA continue to call itself a beacon of democracy for the world?  There is no credible argument that this is a government of and for the people.  Perhaps Obama and the Dems should just say Hitler made some mistakes and the Democratic party is going to do fascism the right way.  At least there would be an ounce integrity in that admission of reality!

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By P. T., July 7, 2009 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

Progressives should oppose any health care reform that does not include a public option.  It is better to allow the collapse of the current system, which is losing customers due to a lack of affordability, than to bailout the insurance companies by forcing people to buy private insurance at inflated prices.  Instead, let the current system go under.

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By lester333, July 7, 2009 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

The G** D*** politicians certainly know how far to push “we the people”.  Crapitalism sucks.  I did not vote last go round because I knew Obama was too good to be true.  Next time I am going to vote the way my silly dumbo sister did in 2004: she said Cheney was a good business man and would keep the spending down.  Shit. I DO NOT CARE ANYMORE.  Obama is an Oz lion for not standing up to the greedy poltroons in Congress.

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By bogi666, July 7, 2009 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

With the exception of a Medicare type system a “public option” would be designed to fail so that the insurance companies could decry “we told you so” about the government meddling in health care. Insurance companies are in the insurance business, not the health care business. As it is their is no health care industry in America only a health insurance industry. The Democrats are embracing the Repubican position that no health care is better than evil “socialized” medical care, or EAT SHIT AND DIE Americans and this includes Obushama who obviously lack leadership qualities. As for the Repubican propaganda about a government bureaucrat making health care decisions why is it an insurance company making health insurance decisions, not health care determinations, is better because to deny benefits results in bonuses, profits and CEO PAY?

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By Tom Semioli, July 7, 2009 at 8:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pulbic policy and public opinion on health care are worlds apart. When does the revolution start? After the World Series or the next season of American Idol?

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By ender, July 7, 2009 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

I emailed my Florida Dem Senator and got a return email that ignored my support for a public run single payer system.  At this point I don’t think we, the people, can overcome the mass amounts of money and pressure from the elites being thrown at Congress.  Obama needs to throw down to the Dems and talk directly to their constituents and refuse to pass anything less.

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By ExAm, July 7, 2009 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We are being hosed in every way now.  GET MAD!!!!!

Call these mafia type pricks that have grabbed the country and scream that we are coming with pitchforks!!!!  We demand health care that is not seen only through the eyes of corporate pigs that corrupt Washington.

You are being lyed to in everyway.  Health care in Europe is far superior to America.  Almost any country is for that matter.  Since when do we fat Americans sit back and give them - with our money!  all that they deny to us?

Help me here!!  Have we become slaves???

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By NYCartist, July 7, 2009 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

70% of the US in recent poll want single-payer, universal medicare for all.  The politicians and media are ignoring it.

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By G.Anderson, July 7, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

At this point it looks like we might as well have elected McCain, the outcome is the same.

President Obama can kiss that second term goodbye.

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By Old Geezer Pilot, July 7, 2009 at 7:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Obama were not beholden to the Insurance Companies, he would remind them that they do NOT deliver ANY medical services - rather their job is to DENY those services to people who need (and have paid for) them. The salaries they accept is money NOT AVAILABLE for the actual delivery of needed services

Insurance Companies cost Americans one-third of the 3 trillion we spend on this sorry sector.

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By LostHills, July 7, 2009 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

I don’t see that Obama or “most democrats” ever wanted a pun;ic option. If they did, then we would be getting on. And how did the debate devolve to hand wringing over a public “option” in the first place? We need a public plan for everyone and the insurance companies should be told to take a hike. If Obama and the democrats can’t give us a public health care plan that covers everyone, then they should be turned out of office.

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By CT, July 7, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Friday it was rumored that the White House discouraged attacks on centrist Senators who oppose health care reform and especially the public plans. Monday we learn why.

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By skulz fontaine, July 7, 2009 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

Special interest lobbying maketh the legislation. What a freaking surprise.

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By Jeff Mortimer, July 7, 2009 at 5:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is the expected cave-in. Obama is truly the lamest of ducks, and he can’t get anything done, this happened the day he was elected. F$ck this Country!

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By wanked, July 7, 2009 at 5:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

UNACCEPTABLE!!!!! Mr. Obama if you and your administration let this opportunity to help WE THE PEOPLE, I promise you it will be a mistake you will regret.

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By Jing, July 7, 2009 at 4:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a clear example of the failure of Obama to bring leadership to the White House. The President is not seriously interested in what the people want and need. Otherwise he would be fighting for a public health plan, not caving, as he has done with every tough issue thus far.

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