Even without the public option, reform still stinks
Opponents of health care reform should take little comfort from the senate meltdown over the Medicare buy-in and the public option being dropped. As Sally Pipes, writing in the New York Post points out, the bill still stinks:
Take the "individual mandate," which would legally require everyone to buy insurance starting in 2013 or face a fine. Proponents claim that such a mandate is necessary to draw young, healthy people into the insurance pool, and so help bring down premiums for the old and sick, many of whom may not be able to find affordable coverage -- or so the argument goes.
If Congress is going to force everyone to get insurance, it should also do its best to make sure that policies are affordable. Naturally, the Senate package does the opposite. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that individual insurance premiums would be 10 to 13 percent higher under the Senate bill than in the absence of reform.
In New York, the situation would be even worse. One study (conducted using actuarial data from WellPoint, a large insurer) found that the average New York City family with two children would see its premiums jump 82 percent under the Democratic plan.
To address the public's affordability concerns, the Senate would lavish billions in subsidies on people with incomes up to four times the poverty level, or $88,000 for a family of four. Senate leaders hope these subsidies will keep people from noticing that the reform package has increased the cost of their insurance.
With even Howard Dean now saying the bill should be deep-sixed, the future of reform looks rather iffy in the senate, although there is still a ray of hope. Of course, Dean's reasoning is a little different; Dean thinks there isn't enough government involvement so it doesn't constitute "true" reform.
Either way, it looks like health care reform - no matter how stinky - will somehow make it out of the senate and into a conference committee.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky