Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

July 11, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

MEDICARE HARDBALL....Paul Krugman has a good column today about the vote to cut back on subsidies to Medicare Advantage and use the savings to maintain current payment rates to doctors. In June an identical bill failed by one vote:

But then Democratic leaders decided to play brinkmanship. They let the doctors' cuts stand for the Fourth of July holiday, daring Republicans to threaten the basic medical care of millions of Americans rather than give up subsidies to insurance companies. Over the recess period, there was an intense lobbying war between insurance companies and doctors.

And when the Senate came back in session, it turned out that the doctors — and the Democrats — had won: Senator Kennedy was there to cast the extra vote needed to break the filibuster, a number of Republicans switched sides and the bill passed with a veto-proof majority.

Krugman thinks this show of Democratic backbone bodes well for the chances of passing universal healthcare next year. I don't know that I'd read quite that much into it, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

UPDATE: Jon Cohn agrees with Krugman that this is a good sign, but for a different reason: it pits doctors against insurers, and Democrats with doctors. If this carries over to next year, with doctors deciding that Dems and universal healthcare are preferable to the dubious embrace of the insurance industry, that would be a very big interest group that's made the switch away from the dark side.

Kevin Drum 1:37 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Kudos to the Democrats for getting back in touch with their spines.

What took you so long ?

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." – Edward R. Murrow

Posted by: daCascadian on July 11, 2008 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." – Edward R. Murrow

A nation of men will slay broke wolves.

Posted by: on July 11, 2008 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

The anonymous turd leaves another stinky nugget above. What a retard.

Look, the Occupation of Iraq has poisoned the well in so many ways for this country - our economy is in a tailspin due to massive overborrowing; there is no money for providing affordable health care for our citizens; we have huge numbers of limbless, paralyzed and mentally dysfunctional veterans coming home; the rest of the world views as an out-of-control pariah state - why can't Democrats see this and end it immediately? We will never have a functioning health care system in this country until we break the back of the military-industrial cabal that controls us.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 11, 2008 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

"putting the government in charge of health care...in what universe is this a good idea"

Orwell, tell it to the millions of people covered by universal health care in France, Belgium, etc.

Lived there, done that, and wowsa! So much better.

Either you're an insurance lackey or just another one of those suckers who believes insurance lobbyist propaganda.

"liberal desire to control the lives of other people" Orwell, puh-leeze! Stop! You're killing me! "Liberal desire???" The Republicans have been trying to control our lives for the past eight years!

Posted by: Michael Moore on July 11, 2008 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman is far more optimistic than I about that. I would looooooove to be wrong.

Posted by: shortstop on July 11, 2008 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

First, it's nice to see Senate Democrats actually do something besides piddle in their pants because the Big Bad Republicans were being mean.

Second, Orwell should move into my universe, where I have to spend time fighting with my insurance company over every claim just to get the coverage I pay for. I'm diabetic and haven't been to the doctor for 8 months just because I'm so fed up with fighting over benefits due me for doctor office visits my wife and son made earlier this year.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on July 11, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Lifelong Dem, so you have health insurance, but you think the government would run it better than a private company? Have you ever applied for federal disability benefits? More generally, when I worked for Legal Aid, every person who came in had a story of how the government screwed them: the Housing Authority, the police, Social Security, Housing Preservation and Development, Social Services, etc. Maybe one out of every hundred had a problem with a private landlord or employer. I just don't understand people who think that government bureaucrats will be better than private insurance company bureaucrats.

Posted by: y81 on July 11, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone would be better than private insurance company bureaucrats. It's time to take profit out of health-care.

Posted by: Dem too on July 11, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

FISA demonstrates the truth about spines.

Posted by: m on July 11, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Problem is the obama will not allow universal health care - he would rather just more money to healthcare providers and insurance companies.

They make money by NOT providing healthcare services.

"Yes we can" means that obama is confident he can snooker you with lies.

The "change" obama refers to is that he will bamboozle progressives and liberals to win the election instead of fooling the right.

In the end, its gonna be the same corpocracy that owns the White House.

Posted by: on July 11, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Different methods for rationing socialized health care.


I do not see much change here, doctor payments will still be under pressure, there just isn't enough money, and if the government is doing the job, then some procedures will be eliminated.

Posted by: Matt on July 11, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Lifelong Dem, so you have health insurance, but you think the government would run it better than a private company?

Not to speak for Lifelong Dem, but our failed experiment with privately funded health care (and note here, of course, how dishonest conservatives -- but I repeat myself -- conflate government funded health care with government run health care; Japan's system, for just one example, is of private providers funded by the government, and you never hear the Repukes telling scare stories about it...) proves it would be better to have health care funded by and entity that doesn't have a profit motive to deny coverage.

As we've seen with McCain's recent gaffe on Social Security, what really has the righties' panties in a bunch is that -- despite their decades of opposition, and George Bush's dedicated efforts to ruin its financing -- Social Security remains a popular, efficient and successful program. It just fucks with their worldview. Jackasses like "Orwell" are chanting the conservative catechism because they fear, deep down, that no government funded program could suck worse than the system we currently have, thus proving once and for all, and again, that liberal ideas work and conservative ideas don't.

Posted by: Gregory on July 11, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Different methods for rationing socialized health care.

Let's just rip up the dishonest scare term "rationing" right now, Matt. Health care is already rationed, with more and more middle-class Americans going without because they simply can't afford it. But health care is far from a free market; Republicans are just whining because their ox -- the profits of corporate entities -- insurance comapanies, which add no value whatsoever to health care -- is going to get gored.

Posted by: Gregory on July 11, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

My god are we a bunch of grumpy people this morning. Orwell the only thing worse that government bureaucracy is private insurance company bureaucracy. At least when you are dealing with a government bureaucracy your elected official will often act as your advocate. If he doesn't you can get a new one. You have no advocate when you are dealing with a private insurance company. You are simply left to the tender mercies of some heartless, faceless drone who is trying to find ways to deny you coverage so he can increase profits for the people he is paid to care about.

You want to see a good movie on the subject? Rent the cartoon flick "The Incredibles." There are cartoon heroes and cartoon bad guys, but the real villain was the insurance company middle manager. Talk about a truly evil bastard. Far more truth in that cartoon than in anything put out by the insurance industry.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 11, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, special bonus at the end of Krugman's column:

David Brooks is off today.

Hey, intellectual dishonesty in service of GOP talking points is hard work.

Posted by: Gregory on July 11, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Lifelong Dem, so you have health insurance, but you think the government would run it better than a private company?

I can't imagine that any level of government could run the claims processing aspect of health insurance any worse than the private companies I've dealth with.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on July 11, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

What Obama's purists don't understand is that changing the way we deliver health care in this country is a HUGE thing to do and it will take a coalition of ALL DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS to have a chance to do more than put another bandaid on it.

Obama is not seen as a radical leftist Democrat, and so, being seen as centrist will only help us get real changes, healthcare and Iraq for starters.

Posted by: lilybart on July 11, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, replacing private insurance companies with government insurance is a change in the "funding," and nothing but the funding, of health care. So pointing out how many people come into Legal Aid complaining about their disability checks, their Section 8 vouchers, etc. is very relevant to predicting how government "funding" of health care will work.

Ron Byers, "The Incredibles" is pretty much my policy guide on every issue. Fact is, I thought Saddam had some of those spider machines that would invade New York and zap us with lasers.

Posted by: y81 on July 11, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

The Docs got in bed with health insurers in the 1980s and 1990s and now they regret it. Docs have come to realize that their interest are not always aligned with insurance. Pay reductions that they have taken from the insurers have brought this point to the forefront. This Medicaid bill is further evidence of the schism.

Posted by: Clem on July 11, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

So pointing out how many people come into Legal Aid complaining about their disability checks, their Section 8 vouchers, etc. is very relevant to predicting how government "funding" of health care will work.

How many people come into Legal Aid complaining about their Medicare or Medicaid?

Posted by: Gregory on July 11, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

It kills me that doctors tend to vote Republican because of "lower taxes" and "tort reform" but whine about how lousy Medicare is as a payor. Any MDs out there, correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted by: RollaMO on July 11, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

lilybart - read what obama has proposed about health insurance - HE DOES NOT SUPPORT UNIVERSAL COVERAGE.

Then look some of the policies and programs he is actually responsible for - HE SELLS OUT THOSE THAT HE HAS PROCLAIMED TO HELP!

Here's a great example - economically disadvantaged people that can't afford housing:

Obama's Shameful Housing Record

Posted by: on July 11, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who finds this both funny and another sign of McCain's tone-deafness?

"Event, 11 a.m. Friday July 11

John McCain hosts a women’s town hall meeting at J&L Steel Erectors in Hudson, Wisconsin."

Great place to have a women's town hall meeting!

Posted by: lampwick on July 11, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

There are two federal programs that work extremely well, thank you (as I know from experience): Social Security and Medicare -- and here I don't mean the sham "Medicare Advantage" programs that put the insurance companies back in the drivers' seats!

Good column by Krugman. More reason to stay the course with Obama and push for truly universal coverage once we have a new Congress in place in November. It ain't over, folks . . .

Posted by: jwinct on July 11, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

We will never have a functioning health care system in this country until we break the back of the military-industrial cabal that controls us.

"But the aging air craft need replacing before they fall out of the sky," whined the Pentecostal fly boy.

Posted by: Brojo on July 11, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

y81 -- I recommended The Incredibles because I figured it is about as much as most anti-government conservatives like Orwell could handle.

In my experience most anti-government conservatives haven't thought about anything since Ronald Reagan. They are totally committed to their childish slogans and never believe their lying eyes. I thought the cartoon would provide them an example their little minds could reach around.

Never forget that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Do you think the cartoon reference too sophisticated for their closed minds?

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 11, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK
Lifelong Dem, so you have health insurance, but you think the government would run it better than a private company?

Better in what sense? Perhaps less efficiently in service of its goals, but most likely with goals more in line with the social good (rather than extraordinary efficiency in erecting barriers to payments even of perfectly legitimate claims.)

Posted by: cmdicely on July 11, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of doctors were voting Republican ten years ago because of the promise of tort reform. Republicans took control and didn't do anything about tort reform, so a lot of doctors are now swing voters. Moves like this one can help swing them over to the Democrats.

Posted by: reino on July 11, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

The tort reform issue showed how easy it was for the GOP to herd doctors. There is only the slightest of relationships between tort awards and premiums.

Posted by: keith g on July 11, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why not use the Social Security Administration as the guideline for any universal healthcare? A National HealthCare Administration could receive the tax monies in one section, pay out claims in a second, and, by monitoring medical charges in a third section, provide feedback to the claims section on the amount that should be reimbursed.
There's no valid reason for it to be complicated, but that won't stop those determined to make it so.

Posted by: Doug on July 11, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hi everyone. When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough. Help me! Looking for sites on: Jobs in computer programming. I found only this - computer related jobs. The power is to let jeans to be hot to make the hats of last breeds and to restructure testosterone with their enemies, hair replacement. Hair replacement, you must also fear to opt what the money makes by treating with your faults. Thanks for the help :-), Rhoswen from Kiribati.

Posted by: Rhoswen on March 31, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly