Conservatives vs Pre-Existing Conditions

 

The CBO score for the House Republican health bill came out last week and the news is “unexpectedly” bad: 14 million more people uninsured next year and 26 million by 2026.  These numbers are crap of course.  Not just because the CBO is notoriously wrong (remember their rosy predictions about Obamacare?) but because their comparisons are not based on reality.  As the Legal Insurrection site notes, the CBO used a March 2016 baseline that they had previously acknowledged was wildly inaccurate. With health plans dropping like flies from Obamacare exchanges all over the country, if you do nothing, you’re likely to get a similar result of increase in uninsured by 2026.

But the purpose of the CBO report wasn’t to provide a statistical analysis of the possible effects of a healthcare replacement plan, it was to provide talking points to the Democrats, and on that basis, mission accomplished.  And that’s why Mitch McConnell is trying to stall bringing up the healthcare bill in the Senate for as long as possible.  It’s a policy, political, and PR nightmare.

But the real nightmare in the health care debate boils down to the one issue that actually frightens people, stirs them to show up to town halls, and dominates the cable news coverage of health care policy is pre-existing conditions.  How to handle pre-existing conditions occupied the majority of debate on the House plan, and ultimately failed to satisfy.  The AHCA has planned to handle pre-existing conditions through high risk pools.  The way they are supposed to work is that people with pre-existing conditions would sign up for their health plans like normal, but money set aside in high risk pools in each state would go to subsidize the insurance companies directly for each customer with pre-existing conditions.  This was based on a highly successful program in Maine. The problem with rolling that out nationwide is that we have no good way to estimate either the costs per person or the number of people involved.

Our guide to how little we know about the pre-existing population lies in an Obamacare program called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (called either PPACA or PCIP). PCIP was set up to provide health insurance as a bridge until the requirement for individual health plans to accept everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, kicked in. The assumptions were wrong both in number of enrollees and how much they would cost.  The original cost estimate per enrollee was $13,026.00 and in only 11 months was upgraded to $ 28,994.00 per enrollee. And how many people are affected by pre-existing conditions?  Up to 130 million people according to most government estimates. So how many were actually enrolled in the PCIP program?  At its peak, there were never more than 114, 959 enrollees.  So the entire US health system was re-arranged to accommodate a little more than 100,000 people.  Interestingly 78% of PCIP spending went to only four conditions, cancer, heart and circulatory diseases, post-surgical care, and joint diseases.

So there is a major gap between pre-existing conditions, the propaganda talking point, and pre-existing conditions, the actual policy issue.  And these lead me to notice some curious conservative commentary on the issue.  Prior to the House vote, columnist Anne Coulter wrote a column about the House bill in which she made the remark, “Until the welfare program is decoupled from the insurance market, nothing will work.”  But the biggest player in the conservative pundit class is radio host Rush Limbaugh.  With a 20 million person radio audience, he can move or set the agenda among the right. So what are Rush’s views on pre-existing conditions? He spent quite a bit of time discussing the issue on his show after the House vote, but what caught my eye was this:

“What ought to really happen here is, the simplest way, is to take whatever the percent, 4% who have preexisting conditions and designate them as a special class who are going to have medical expenses covered by some funding mechanism that may be part of the overall bill or not, but don’t commingle these people with the genuine insurance that’s going on elsewhere. ‘Cause then we’re not talking insurance. And it does matter because that’s the way they’re able to convert this into a massive welfare bill while everybody thinks it’s insurance. It’s another sleight of hand.”

To me, it sounds like both commentators are arguing that pre-existing conditions should be handled outside the normal insurance system and covered by a government program.  I think this shows a movement that’s removed from where the House Freedom Caucus is on the issue.  The problem is that no one in the Republican Congress will squarely address the issue.  Putting together a bill to replace Obamacare would be much simpler if they just came out and admitted that people with pre-existing conditions should be served outside of the insurance market.

In other words, a government program.

I had addressed various health reform proposals in general and pre-existing conditions in particular 5 years ago during the Obamacare court fight. At the time I addressed two major issues that needed to be in a future health reform bill:

  1. Tax Credits and deductions to cover the costs of insurance premiums in the individual insurance market.
  2. Some manner of dealing with pre-existing conditions, preferably by some sort of 2nd payer coverage.

I thought I would expand on just how I would cover pre-existing conditions if I were writing the bill.  As stated I would pay charges related to pre-existing conditions with a second payer plan; I’m thinking Medicaid.  But first, some background:

Second payers are plans that pay in addition to regular insurance plans.  People most commonly run across them in Workers Comp and Auto accident issues.  For example, you’re in a car accident, and are taken to the emergency room.  Normally an emergency room visit and associated treatment and tests would be paid by your regular health insurance, but because you have auto insurance and in an auto accident, your auto insurance would be billed first.  The auto insurance pays whatever they are contracted to pay in those circumstances, and the bill goes to your health insurance, which pays whatever it’s contracted to pay minus what was paid by the auto insurance.

Now years ago, some HMO plans would pay for pre-existing conditions, but not right away.  You are a new member on an HMO plan, but you have diabetes.  You could use your insurance for any medical condition except the procedure codes and diagnosis’s associated with diabetes for a period of time, either a year or two years depending on the plan.  After that period was over the HMO would start picking up the costs of diabetic treatment.  This way, the health plan didn’t immediately go into the hole over a brand new member who brings expensive health issues to the plan.  Obviously, this isn’t great at all if you have diabetes because it means you are paying for all of your diabetic treatment and medicines out of pocket until your waiting period was over.  For many however, it was better than no insurance at all.

So how would my plan work?

When you sign up for a health plan on the individual health insurance market in your state, part of the application process is identifying if you have a pre-existing condition.  If so, you are automatically signed up in your state’s Pre-existing Medicaid plan.  This is a secondary payer that only pays if during your first two years in your health plan (or whatever time period is arrived at) you have charges related to your pre-existing condition.  So, let’s say you have heart disease as a pre-existing condition, you go to the doctor for some issue related to that, the doctor files insurance like normal, and it goes to your insurance company.

Since you’re in the first two years of your health plan with this insurance company, and the procedure codes and diagnosis codes are related to your known pre-existing condition, your insurance company denies the claim but then sends it to your state Medicaid, which processes and pays the claim.  For you, the process is seamless, your insurance company gets out of paying charges, and Medicaid pays the doctor.

So, why do I think this is better than the currently proposed high risk pools in the AHCA?

First, we don’t know what the costs are going to be and who is going to need help.  That was the problem with the Obamacare PCIP; far fewer people signed up than expected, but it cost way more per person than expected when they did sign up. So there are a lot of unknown costs associated with this.

Secondly, under high risk pools there seems to me a thin line between subsidizing patients with pre-existing conditions and subsidizing health insurance company profits.  Are the insurance companies just going to present a bill to the high risk pools and they will just pay no matter what?  Who knows?  There isn’t any transparency in knowing what you’re paying for so you can never predict what the costs are.

Third, Medicaid pays out under the cheapest rates available, cheaper than Medicare and far cheaper than private insurance rates.  If the government is going to subsidize pre-existing conditions somehow, why not do it in the way that provides the cheapest rates, and the most transparency? Medicaid will be able to grow a database of all pre-existing conditions, their frequency, and their costs for the private insurance market.

One way or the other, the government will be paying for this. Either the Senate puts together a plan that the President signs, or Obamacare continues to fall apart and a new Democratic Congress will be elected to fix healthcare, and if they do it, given previous experience, it won’t be cheap, transparent, or voluntary.

 

The Sure Fire Failure Republican Health Plan

One would think that last week’s passage of the Republican version of the American Healthcare Act, the bill to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, would be met with jubilation on the right.  Instead it’s been met with a mostly “meh” attitude.  Unlike Obamacare, which Democratic activists enthusiastically defended every step of the way, Republican activists aren’t happy with this bill. When the bill is taken up in the Senate, they are likely to be even less happy. Probably the only positive feature that Republicans will agree on is that it’s likely to be better than Obamacare.

Some of the features of the Republican bill include:

  • Ends the mandates and tax penalties of Obamacare.
  • Changes the subsidy system to a system of tax credits
  • Allows states to get waivers to the old Obamacare coverage requirements
  • Blocks Planned Parenthood payments for one (?) year.
  • Stops and begins the rollback of the Medicaid expansion.
  • Changes Medicaid from an entitlement to a block grant.

If, through some miracle, this bill were to sail through the senate unscathed, and become law as currently written, it would destroy healthcare in this country and do to Republicans what Obamacare did to Democrats; Reduce their numbers to a shrill minority in the House and Senate and forfeit the Presidency to the Democrats for the foreseeable future.

Why am I so glum about the results of the bill?  Changing the subsidy to a tax credit is a positive step, one that Republicans have supported for years, but the range of tax credits, $2,000 to $4,000, and the method of doling them out, is a disaster.  First, the tax credit amounts are ridiculously low.  John McCain’s 2008 health reform plan was better than that, and I thought that was a bit low at the time; $5000 for families and $2,500 for individuals. Also, the amounts are more based on age rather than income. There may be a rationale for that, but the Republicans in the House have not attempted to explain why basing tax credits on age will be more helpful to people than basing them on income. The average family employer insurance plan cost for 2015 was $ 17,322.00. To buy an equivalent plan on the individual insurance market, the tax credit should be anywhere from a third to half of that (to provide somewhat equal equivalence to the employee cost that employer plans have); way more than the Republican bill is offering.

The other issue is Medicaid.  Changing Medicaid from an entitlement to a block grant is probably the single most important long term feature of this bill, and one that does the longest term good. However, depending on where you get your estimates, more than 84% of the increase in health insurance coverage is due to Obamacare’s increase in Medicaid expansion coverage.  That’s coverage that, to the recipient, is free, with no premiums or co-pays.  Almost 12 million people will lose the Medicaid Expansion coverage over time. To offer them a replacement of a $2, 000 tax credit (with no mandate to force coverage) will leave a result that almost all of those people will lose coverage and not get a replacement plan.

However in terms of media coverage, the GOP elephant in the room has been pre-existing conditions.  The way the House bill handles pre-existing conditions is described in Time this way:

“The American Health Care Act stipulates that states can allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for health insurance (which is banned under the ACA) if the states meet certain conditions, such as setting up high-risk insurance pools. Insurers still cannot deny people coverage outright, as was a common practice before the ACA’s passage, but they can hike up premiums to an unaffordable amount, effectively pricing people out of the market.”

So if you have a pre-existing condition, your health care costs are likely to go up, even though you’ll still be able to purchase insurance.  We are currently in an Obamacare death spiral; a death spiral which probably represents a good portion of the Obamacare exchange market. Next year it will be worse. So in this way at least, things are likely to continue under the House bill the same way they are currently under Obamacare-higher prices and fewer choices.

Of course there is an answer to the Pre-existing conditions conundrum, one I touched on back in 2012 during the Obamacare discussions. But I think that’s probably an entire post on its own, so stay tuned…

So to summarize, the House bill is an unworkable mess as currently written and is less a repeal and replace than an optional opt out of Obamacare, while taking away the features of Obamacare.  So Congress is keeping the Obamacare rules and regulations, but taking away the features that made them workable. States can opt out of those requirements, but Medicaid Expansion is going away anyway.  If you have a pre-existing condition, you may be no worse off, but certainly no better, than if we do nothing and let Obamacare death spiral into the ground.

Some reform.

Ultimately, none of this will probably matter. The Senate is likely to so alter the bill that it will be unrecognizable.  But the struggle and fight over the House bill is a precursor to the fight in the Senate.

Ryan Care taught me one thing…

The collapse of Ryan Care was probably the first big failure of the young Trump administration (not counting the tweets-4D chess and all that). And to that, as on many things, I’m of two minds.  For all of its flaws, being able to block grant Medicaid funds to the states and capping its growth would be a major victory; a major reform of a major entitlement program.  Just that would have been a major administration accomplishment.

On the other hand…the bill was seriously flawed in virtually every other way and didn’t meet the President’s goal of providing coverage for everyone.  And even worse than the flaws of the bill, it revealed how amateurish the Republican House was.  It was like they had not even considered the idea of writing a health care bill until a few weeks ago.  And when they did, they repeated every bad Democratic mistake in doing it by keeping the bill writing secret to exclude… not Democrats but the real enemy; other Republicans.  And in fact, it was Republicans that ultimately killed their own reform plan.  Democrats just had to sit by and eat popcorn.

This of course, is yet another example of why the GOP has the amply deserved moniker of the stupid party.  Democrats usually have a handy bill just sitting on the hard drive of Democratic Congressional servers just waiting for a crisis.  You know, so they cannot waste it.  School shooting?  Just hit print and run out to the House floor waving a fully written Gun Control bill, “for the children.”

With Republicans, after passing multiple repeal bills during the Obama years, including having a full replacement bill in committee in 2013, the Options Act, suddenly became the proverbial deer in the headlights; “Wait we won?  That wasn’t supposed to happen!”

So after thinking that the GOP had at least a draft of a consensus plan tucked away waiting for its own opportunity, it soon became obvious that there had probably been not a single meeting or discussion on it until recently.  So after crafting a bill in secret with zero input from any effected groups, it turned out there was no constituency for the bill.  Even the late lamented Options Act had buy in from several conservative think tanks, and Tea Party groups.  No conservative groups even had a peek at it until it was unveiled.

Sorry, but that’s not how you do things.

But…none of that was the “one thing” that Ryan Care taught me.

Have you ever noticed that you never hear the left clamoring for Medicaid for all? Since Medicaid has no premiums, co pays, or deductibles, it’s truly free healthcare (from the consumer point of view). Meanwhile regular Medicare has an 80/20 cost share. Medicaid has lower provider reimbursement rates than Medicare so in theory it should be cheaper. Why shouldn’t the left/liberals/Democrats like Medicaid as the basis of a national healthcare plan over Medicare?

The other day I was on a forum discussing the late, unlamented Ryan plan, and how it weans off Medicaid funds to the states with a different formula over the years. Some left leaning poster complained that means the states would have to raise taxes to make up the difference!  Well duh, but if you’re liberal, shouldn’t that be a feature rather than a bug?  Don’t those guys love taxes, the higher the better?  How could increasing taxes be a flaw in a health care reform plan if you’re liberal?

Epiphany time. Unlike Medicare, which is fully federally funded, states have to pitch in for the cost (not counting the expanded Obamacare version) for Medicaid. Medicare, or any fully federal plan is paid for by deficit spending, so no one is really paying for it (yet) but the states have to tax real money to pay for things like expanding healthcare for people in their own state.  That’s why even the bluest states don’t have their own universal healthcare plans. Vermont tried to do it and spent three years trying to make it work before abandoning it because of taxes.  California is attempting to do it now, and the lessons of its attempt on this regard will be instructive.  I’m not sure any state can afford both a 50 billion dollar bullet train to nowhere and single payer health insurance.

So the lesson?  That’s how you defang the left: Make them pay for it.  A Balanced Budget Amendment would do more to rein in the Democratic Party than any comparative cluster of policy reforms that will be undone by the next Democratic administration.  The basic tools in the Congress and in statehouses across the country are all there to make it happen. Democrats love the rhetoric of raising taxes on the rich but the reality is that the rich are much of their constituency, and it’s not clear how far that constituency is willing to go if every single thing the Democrats want they had to pay for up front.

I’d like to find out.

Schadenfreude, and the Obamacare Timebomb

Considering the disaster of a rollout that Obamacare turned into, you would expect a lot more schadenfreude from the political right.  After all, it’s the President’s signature domestic policy.  For good or ill (and it’s mostly ill), this will be the domestic program that will be identified with President Obama.  And so far it’s a mess.  So why aren’t conservatives happy?  Part of it I think is that the right is still licking its wounds from the shutdown debacle.  They are still trying to heal a party that was pointless split for no good reason.  See?  I’m still trying to heal.  But the major part of this is that unlike a lot of wacky social programs that the left invents, screws up, and leaves to move on to the next big thing, healthcare is something that affects everyone.  The damage that Obamacare has done to the entire nation’s healthcare system, not just to the minority in the individual insurance market, is extensive, and much of it is permanent.  So there is no schadenfreude to be found in mocking the woman who said, “I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it.”

Fool, you’ve doomed us all.

If Obamacare had only ruined the healthcare system for those who supported it, then yes, the right would have the freedom to cackle with glee and point fingers, but eventually, this will affect everyone.

OK we’re still doing the finger pointing, but we’re not happy about it.

Right now the big Obamacare story is the website, which is a mess, but eventually the website will get fixed.  The problem goes far beyond the website.  The health insurance plans in the exchange depend on getting enough young health people to enroll to keep the cost of premiums down for the next year.  They need people paying but not using healthcare to afford the people who will enroll and will be sick and will be using healthcare; a lot.  That’s what insurance is all about after all.  If those young healthy people don’t show up and enroll, then you are left with more people taking out of the insurance pool than are putting into it.  That spells extremely high rates for premiums in 2015, or collapse of the exchange insurance groups.

And what could be pulling healthy young people from enrolling in an exchange insurance plan?  In a word; Medicaid.

So far (and admittedly this is a changing number) the majority of enrollees under the Obamacare exchanges are enrolling in Medicaid.  Under Obamacare the Medicaid expansion increased the Medicaid Eligibility to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line.  So all of those young healthy hipsters, particularly the ones who have extremely low incomes like students, are being enrolled, but they are being enrolled as Medicaid clients, not people in the actual private insurance groups.  So rather than contributing to the insurance pool, these healthy young people will basically be put on the dole, to drain the Treasury of funds to support healthcare that they could have otherwise been contributing to.

So if in the upcoming year we have insurance plans filled with the sick, while the healthy coast on Medicaid, than that’s a bomb that will blow Obamacare wide open.

Great plan geniuses.

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Medicaid to Ian: Drop Dead!

For years ekg she has been my liberal foil, challenging my assumptions and sharpening my arguments.  But lately, she has just seemed …off.  Like virtually every liberal worth his or her bureaucracy, she is wildly in favor of a “public option” in the current health care bill.  The more “publicky,” the better. Medicare for all is the dream, and VA care for all is the fantasy.  Yeah, I don’t get that one either.  But unfortunately, it’s a point that seems so evident to the liberal mind that any opposition seems either evil or crazy.

Or racist of course.  We can’t forget that one!

So her arguments in support of “health reform” have been of the self evident variety.  Hardly worth the title of “reasoned discussion” at all.  In discussing the case of Ian Pearl, she pulls out the familiar trope of the evil insurance company denying coverage for the wronged, ill, Christ figure.  Her blog on Ian’s plight is one part righteous anger and two parts accusatory anger.

But I do take her seriously and try to address her disagreements with my position:

Ekg, I don’t want to make you sad, so let me address your points one at a time.

Now, you are saying I don’t know what I am talking about because:

“1st.. Ian wouldn’t die from the ‘public option’… he would die from having to live in an assisted living home…”

So in order to live, Ian needs 24 hour home health care that is currently provided by his health insurance.  Now Ian is about to get the boot, the boot to Medicaid, which does not provide the sort of home health care that Ian needs, according to his parents to stay alive.  So once Ian is on Medicaid, his life will be nasty, brutish, and short.  Now assisted living is how Medicaid handles Muscular Dystrophy patients in Ian’s advanced condition.  So if Ian had never been covered under a private insurance plan, he would have been dead a while ago, correct?

But you say Medicaid is not a public option.  But the public option is government healthcare.  Do you think he would have a better deal under another government plan?

Which leads us to your second point…

”2nd medicaid isn’t the ‘public option’ .. that is what the poorest of the poor get. which no matter how bad(and it’s not), is still better than what millions have now..
The public option is low cost private insurance and it’s only low cost to the payer because the gov’t can purchase larger ‘blocks’ and get a better deal than a single person.”

If you’re correct, I’ve been following this issue for several months and have never heard that the public option is really private insurance.  In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re wrong on that, so I will call bullshit until you can show me.  What I think you are getting it confused with are the private plans that will be sold through the exchange.  Those will have standardized basic benefits, prices, and will be subsidized for lower income people.  That is not the” public option.”  The public option is a government plan, not really insurance, with benefits and prices designed by the government.  Now the public option might be administered by a private company, in the same way that Tricare is administered by private insurance companies in different Tricare regions of the country, but it’s not a private insurance plan.  If there is a public option and it is administered by private health insurance companies, which seems likely, the insurance companies still win!

So one if us is really, really wrong on our understanding of what the public option is.  As long as we have been going over this issue, that’s pretty damn funny.  I don’t care who ya are…

Now I couldn’t help but notice this:

“…healthcare companies pass the buck and raise the price while you cheer them on.. whether it’s because they are exempted under anti-trust laws or any other law doesn’t matter..”

I have not been exactly “cheering on” the health insurance companies while they raise prices.  Seeing as I’ve been in the middle of open enrollment at work, I find any cheers quite muted.  I’m trying to recall the last time I cheered price increases by health insurance companies in general and my health insurance in particular… let’s see, there was that time… no…how about… oh no…

I guess no.  No cheers from me.

As far as anti trust laws go in general, I find them foolish, since monopolies generally require either control of a particular resource or some sort of government grant that gives a legal monopoly to a company.  Baseball has an anti trust exemption since we don’t want multiple baseball leagues bouncing around the country.  We would rather the current owners suck up all the profits.  For health insurance companies, If Senator Leahy or the President wants to pull that trigger, I say, let ‘em.  Just about everything else in the bill is designed to increase health care costs, so what’s one more?

But the issue isn’t anti trust, it’s ERISA.  The federal law governing health plans gives a specific exemption from common contract law.  Under normal (and by this I mean both common and various state laws, although they may differ in specifics) contract law, a contract entered in good faith, even if there are flaws in the actual contract, such as doting the i or crossing the t , is still a valid contract.  Not so for health plans under ERISA.  The insurance company can retroactively cancel the contract of any member for any sort of contractual error.  They certainly have an incentive to dump high cost (i.e. really sick) patients if they can legally get away with it, and thanks to federal law, they can!

I guess lobbying really does pay.

Inevitably, when these hard luck rescission cases become big news, like Ian Pearl’s case or others that have become a cause celebre  for big government types such as the cases of Robin Beaton and Otto Raddatz’s, the reason they lost their health care was because of rescission; because the law allows them to.  Big government liberals easily forget the real villains in those cases:  ERISA.

Health Insurance II:  This time it’s personal.

“the quote you used was the PC/CYA reply to being asked why the VP would call someone like Ian or Chuck a fucking “dog”… which is something else you know, but chose to ignore because it doesn’t further your cause..

seriously.. how can you continue to protect an industry that would treat your wife the same way if she was diagnosed with MS tomorrow is simply beyond me..she would just be their new ‘dog’ to rid themselves of..”

Although I find myself offended at the term “dog” being used for either my wife or Chuck ( Ian I don’t know.  Sorry Ian, I’m sure you’re a nice guy and all…), the context seems to refer to the accounts, rather than the individuals.  But lets assume the worse.  The health insurance execs are meanies, they hate Ian, Chuck, and my wife and think they are dogs, and of course, hope they all die before too much money is spent on the sickly, when it could be much better spent on fabulous executive bonuses.   THIS is one of the key differences between people who trust the free market (as opposed to individual companies or executives) and people who trust the good naturedness of big government (stand by, teachable moment here):

I don’t care that companies may hate me, are greedy, or that they are looking out for their own self interest.  Of course they are!  They are in business to make a goddamn buck!  Not to wipe the tears from our eyes and give us a shoulder to cry on.

But it’s an observation that predates Adam Smith’s invisible hand:  Businesses and individuals in business are conducting commerce for their own ends.  However the result of that is that everyone’s interests are satisfied.  You want a widget, and a greedy company wants to make money by selling widgets.  Money and Widgets are exchanged, and voila!  Everyone gets what they want!  Contracts?  Same thing.  There is a centuries old body of law governing, “lets make a deal” between people.  As a general rule, it works pretty well.  It would probably work pretty well with health insurance too if our government allowed it.

But if your thinking on private enterprise and business is totally dependent on companies being filled with nice guys and gals who think providing profits to their shareholders is less important than holding your hand and skipping through the meadow on a spring day, then you are pretty much going to hate capitalism and the free market.

And of course, let’s really get personal:

“.. you are as much of an accomplice in this as the ones who do it knowingly.. you have a president who will work with you.. but instead the GOP shat in his hand and walk over to tongue-kiss the insurance companies because they have the money to rile up the rank and inbred and to fund their re-election bid…”

Wow!  Me!  Personally responsible for Ian Pearl’s unfortunate condition, or responsible for the Republicans in Congress sitting on their hands and not embracing the President’s wack-a-nut health plan?  Either way, it’s a lot of responsibility to rest on my shoulders.  In any case, it was the President who spent the summer playing “wash the molars” with the health insurance companies, not the Republicans.  All the poor health insurance companies wanted was forced, mandatory requirement that everyone in the country get health insurance, a windfall worth billions to them.  That’s why they kept their mouths shut all summer and generically praised “health reform.”  Particularly after it looked like the Public Option was off the table.

But a funny thing happened on the way to negotiations; the individual mandate and the fines to enforce it got weakened.  Weakened enough that suddenly the other higher costs enclosed in the health plan suddenly seem to outweigh the lesser amount of new customers the health insurance companies were expected to have the federal government  herd their way.  It is about self interest after all.  That’s what makes the world go round.  As fun as it would be to blame the Republicans for all this, or any of this for that matter, it’s strictly an inter-party squabble.  It’s Democrats versus the President.  Republicans?  They’re just out in the bleachers, yelling, “You lie” occasionally.

As for Ian, I don’t have a solution for him.  In that way, I’m no different than ekg.  I would have supported eliminating the part of ERISA that allows these situations to happen in the first place.  He would have either not lost his insurance, or if he had, his parents would have been able to sue the company in court.  That’s not an option available to him under current law.  But even if the Congress were to magically take an interest in that, I doubt it would be done in time to help Ian.

Other than that, I only have Ian’s parent’s word that care under Medicaid is a “death sentence.”  I don’t know if that is their take on their son’s situation or a doctor’s opinion, but in any case, I hope they are wrong.  He’s getting the liberal dream:  government healthcare.  No greedy health insurance companies involved.   It’s government healthcare for Ian soon, and government healthcare for all of us eventually if the President has his way.  But If both Medicaid and Medicare, would have Ian die, why should this be shoved down my throat?  It’s funny that the biggest supporters of government healthcare suddenly are frightened by the thought of someone actually getting it.