Deal Reportedly Reached on Health Care

It sounds like a deal has been made on health care reform in the Senate after a busy day. The reports are contradictory with some saying that the public option is dead while Reuters reports that Harry Reid denies the public option will be dropped. The proposal is being sent to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring before the details are released.

Earlier there were reports that Olympia Snowe opposed the Medicare buy-in plan which I discussed yesterday but Joe Lieberman was willing to consider it. Both reportedly opposed an expansion of Medicaid. In addition there is more talk of offering further choices modeled along the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program which covers members of Congress and government employees.

As I discussed previously, allowing those between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare would be beneficial for an age group which has the most difficulty purchasing insurance on the individual market. It might be better to have such a plan which offers true benefits at age 55 as opposed to a watered-down public option. Once the Medicare age is lowered to 55 there is also likely to be increased pressure to lower the age further if many people find that buying into Medicare is a better deal than purchasing private insurance. I have also seen mention today of the possibility of a trigger to lower the age based upon future costs of health insurance.

Another benefit of this proposal is that it can begin helping those who are unable to obtain insurance as early as 2010. There is talk that those who qualify for high-risk insurance pools will be able to buy into Medicare in 2010 with this to be offered to everyone at age 55 once the insurance exchanges are established in 2014.

Republicans who previously were arguing against cuts in Medicare are now taking the opposite approach and arguing against Medicare expansion. I guess they are channeling George H.W. Bush in arguing to “stay the course,” opposing both cuts and expansions. Actually the Medicare cuts which the Republicans oppose are cuts in subsidies to insurance companies in Medicare Advantage plans.

If Lieberman is aboard, it might be possible to pass a compromise without any Republican support but there is danger of losing the support of one conservative Democrat. Ben Nelson’s attempt to place restrictions on abortion was tabled in a 54-45 vote. Nelson said this makes it harder for him to support the bill. Nelson is one of the handful of Democratic members of The Family, a conservative religious group which believes they were chosen by God to lead.

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  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I’m honestly surprised Nelson hasn’t switched parties by now, or at least declared himself independent and started caucus jumping. I have been waiting for it ever since Specter became a Dem.
    I support lowering the buy-in age to 55. I think I actually suggested this here at one point, on another post, and seeing it actually discussed makes me smile. I think Medicare expansion could do a lot more good than the public option currently on the table.

  2. 2
    b-psycho says:

    When I first heard the words “public option” I thought it was going to be a Medicare buy-in.  That proved false, and now to replace the “public option” they propose…a Medicare buy-in.
    Politicians are funny like that.  Strategically speaking, I don’t get why they didn’t just do this in the first place, since the same ones barking about the evils of gov’t run insurance love their Medicare.  If you’re someone who thinks the gov’t should operate an alternative to the “private” insurance market, then what the hell, you already have Medicare, allow buy-in and be done with it.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    The idea of a Medicare buy-in has been floated for several years but it seemed to be forgotten recently, probably as it would be redundant if we had a strong public option. Ironically moderates weakened the private option in the House to make it less like Medicare. Now we might wind up with an expansion of Medicare itself instead of a public option.

  4. 4
    Pastor Kevin Essett says:

    » Deal Reportedly Reached on Health Care Liberal Values: Dec 8, 2009 … Pastor Kevin Essett: » Religion and Mora…

  5. 5
    Pastor Kevin Essett says:

    » Deal Reportedly Reached on Health Care Liberal Values: Dec 8, 2009 … Pastor Kevin Essett: » Religion and Mora…

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