Healthcare Open Thread

New York TimesHigh Premiums in Senate Democrats' Health Plan:
Senate Democrats have provided few details about their latest health care proposal, but this much seems clear: Anyone who wants to buy the same health benefits as members of Congress, or to buy coverage through Medicare, should be prepared to fork over a large chunk of cash.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a family of four earning $54,000 in 2016, when the health legislation is fully in effect, would be eligible for a subsidy of $10,100 to help defray the cost of insurance under the health legislation being debated by the Senate. By then, one of the most popular federal plans, a nationwide Blue Cross and Blue Shield policy, is projected to cost more than $20,000.

That could leave the family earning $54,000, slightly more than the current median household income, with monthly premium costs of more than $825.

The Democrats' proposal would also allow some people ages 55 to 64 to "buy in" to Medicare, starting in 2011. That could cost about $7,600 a year per person or $15,200 for a couple, according to a budget office analysis of an earlier version of the concept. No subsidies would be available until 2014.

Senate Democrats have been careful to say that their proposal is not intended to offer exactly the same benefits that members of Congress have. In many cases, federal subsidies would cover a smaller share of the premium than what the government contributes to the cost of health insurance for federal employees.
WaPoPelosi backs Medicare buy-in plan in Senate health-care deal: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed a proposal Thursday that would allow people in late middle age to buy insurance through Medicare, helping to sustain an idea that sprang unexpectedly from the Senate this week. But the California Democrat reiterated that she would prefer to create government-sponsored coverage for Americans of all ages."

Pelosi also says: "I think we would do almost anything if it meant we would pass healthcare for all Americans before the Christmas holidays. It may be that we can't, and it will have to be a New Year's present to the American people. But as soon as we can, we will." How about just work on it until it's good?

The HillConrad concerned by parts of Senate health compromise: "Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, expressed doubts about a new Senate proposal that would open up Medicare to uninsured Americans between the ages of 55 and 64. ... The Budget chairman said that while the Medicare proposal raises a lot of questions marks, he's waiting (along with other senators) for an analysis of the program by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 'We have not yet seen the CBO analysis of that, but I would be concerned the CBO analysis would show that would have an adverse affect on Medicare,' he said."

And Lieberman is even more annoying.

WaPoSenate Democrats largely support health-care deal that drops public option: "Even Democrats who were not thrilled with the buy-in program applauded the deal's central component: replacing the public option with two national private insurance policies under the oversight of the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that administers health benefits for federal employees."

And there it is. In black and white. This is the "compromise" to kill the public option I've been talking about for a week, which an anonymous Democratic aide said might "trick" "into believing that a government plan run by private companies was a public option." The Democrats are effectively turning healthcare reform into another massive corporate hand-out.

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