Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You Call That “Healthcare”?

After more than six months of promising a healthcare reform bill “any day now,” House Minority Leader John Boehner trotted out the Republican version. Matthew Yglesias sums it up:

If you’re uninsured, this won’t help you.

If you’re insured, but you worry that circumstances beyond your control—a global financial meltdown leading to layoffs at your company, say—this won’t help you.

If you’re insured, but you worry that if you get sick your insurer will gin up some pretext to drop your coverage, this won’t help you.

If you’re insured but your premiums are escalating so fast you worry that you won’t be able to afford to keep paying them, this won’t help you.

Instead, Boehner is proposing the de facto total deregulation of the health insurance industry. Starting with the accurate observation that it’s odd to have insurance regulated fifty different ways in fifty states, the GOP decided not to do the sensible thing and create uniform federal regulation, but instead to let insurers sell plans across state lines. In other words, there’ll be a race to the bottom and all insurance will soon be offered under the rules of whichever state is laxest in its rules—goodbye consumer protections!

The result of all this will be a situation in which the health insurance systems works better for people who don’t need health care services, and much worse for people who actually are sick or who become sick in the future. It’s basically a health un-insurance policy.

Aside from the fact that this bill sounds like it was written by Aetna and UHC, after all the weeping and carrying on about bipartisanship, there’s nothing in this proposal that has any of the basic ideas that are in the Democratic bills in either the House or the Senate. Oh, wait… the Republican bill does have the word “insurance” in it. But as Steve Benen points out,

Several GOP leaders have said they agree with “80 percent” of what Democrats have put together, so the smart course, they said, would be start over and build on those areas of agreement. More recently, Republicans have complained that Democrats haven’t sought GOP input, and have instead been legislating “behind closed doors.”

And now what do we see, aside from a truly ridiculous reform GOP plan? A proposal that was written in secret, behind closed doors, without input from Democrats. The “80 percent” of the reform policy that Republicans said they liked? It’s gone. Areas on which Democrats have been willing to make concessions? They’re gone, too. The GOP desire to advance a “bipartisan” plan? Like sand through an hourglass.

If you had any doubts as to whether or not the Republicans were serious about anything to do with healthcare reform other than to get on TV, say “No” a lot, and rattle their teabags, this should pretty much put an end to that.