Wendell Potter to liberals: Take the deal

Wendell Potter, the former health insurance executive and whistle blower who spoke out for health reform, today went on MSNBC's The Ed Show and urged liberals to take the current deal on health reform. The entire video is posted at the end of this post, or you can watch it on MSNBC's website.

A lot of people on the left has had problems with the fact that the current proposal, in effect, bring more people into the current system by providing more people with coverage but does not change the fundamental, for-profit health insurance system. Some liberals have struggled with the principled conflict that the bill provides subsidies for people to buy private coverage, thus handing more customers to the insurance companies. While that's there is true reform in the current package, starting with regulatory reform of the insurance companies. As Wendell Potter said,
If there is reform, yeah, they'll get new customers, but they'll have to live in a world that has a lot more restrictions, a lot more oversight than they've been used to.

Mr. Potter also points out correctly that in the current reality of Washington, we are not going to be able to get exactly what we want. But to pass no reform is not acceptable. Wendell Potter agrees with the President that, as Ed characterized it, there is enough good in the bill not to scrap it.
We need... these kinds of restrictions. A lot of these [insurance industry] practices should have been made illegal a long time ago. But we've never been able to get even this close to getting that done... There're too many people who are counting on this passing.
Potter also said it was an encouraging sign to see 37 Senators support a public option in reconciliation, and that it gave momentum to getting such an option passed into law later on.
If it isn't included in legislation this time, I think there's really hope that we really can have a public option.
Exactly. The work of health reform does not end with the passage of the current legislation and it becoming law. Subsequently, Potter also agreed that if we don't get this bill done, health reform will likely be delayed for more than another decade yet. Let's be clear about one thing: nobody on the left is talking about giving up on a Medicare-like option that all Americans can buy into. Those who agree with my side of the debate are, however, arguing that we not hold comprehensive health reform hostage to such a demand. And Wenell Potter agrees.
Ed: So Mr. Potter, you're saying to the liberals that are having a hard time with this, 'take the deal.'

Wendell Potter: Take the deal. I understand why they don't like the deal. But we've got to have this deal or many more of us are going to be suffering and we cannot wait any longer. We've got to get something done.
This is it. This is what this is about. We cannot wait another decade and a half to start health reform. We have got to get something done, now. And as a liberal, I will remind us what is in this deal that we are getting. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, the health reform package will:
  • Give 31 million additional Americans health insurance.
  • Massively expand community health centers with an additional $11 billion in funding.
  • Expand Medicaid and have the federal government pick up the vast majority of the tab.
  • Create exchanges with both state and federal oversights in which Americans can shop for the best deals.
  • Provide Americans who need it with federal financial assistance to purchase health insurance.
  • Provide a basic benefits package based on the one members of Congress get.
  • Strengthen Medicare and stop over-subsidizing private insurance to provide the same services as Medicare.
  • Outlaw the worst insurance company practices like denying insurance based on pre-existing conditions.
  • Outlaw annual and lifetime limits on health insurance plans.
  • Institute other strong insurance regulations.
  • Require that insurance companies spend 85% of premium dollars providing care.
All in all, I don't think this is a bad deal at all, especially as a foundation and the first big step in health reform. Let's take this deal, get this done and keep working for more and better reforms in the future.

Here is the full interview: