Calling the Republican Health Care Bluff, and Helping Along Single Payer?

As we have discussed previously, the Republican Whiners in Chiefs in the several states are not just trying to stamp out collective bargaining, they are joining a concerted effort by the national Republicans to roll back the historic health reform law enacted last year. Their big talking point is, "Oh, it's too burdensome on the states, the mandate is bad (well, at least, as far as Republicans are concerned, the employer mandate is bad) just leave it to us and we can do just as good a job just by frothing at the mouth screaming "free market!" " Well, it seems that President Obama is calling their bluff. According to the law, beginning in 2017, states can opt out of most of the mandates of the law, provided they can cover just as many people, with insurance just as good and as affordable, at no additional cost. The President has now embraced a proposal by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Scott "I'll be the 41st vote against health care" Brown (R-MA) that will allow that date to move up to 2014, when exchanges are supposed to open.
“I think that’s a reasonable proposal; I support it,” Mr. Obama told the governors, who were gathered in the State Dining Room of the White House.

“It will give you flexibility more quickly while still guaranteeing the American people reform.”
There is of course no honest right wing idea that would meet the requirements of the waiver. Despite the GOP's constant drumbeat, no Republican governor or member of Congress has ever presented a serious plan to achieve the same coverage level at the same or lower cost. Their big idea is to allow the purchasing of health insurance across state lines without federal regulations, so that insurance companies can all be governed by the laws of the most lax state. "I want to be allowed buy insurance from Hartford," I suspect, is not going to be enough of a plan to warrant an exemption.

There is only one system of health care that is capable of covering just as many or more people, with coverage just as good or better, and at costs just as much or lower: it's called a single payer system. There simply are no free market based systems that can do a better job of covering people than what is in the law. And it's happening:
The administration officials said the so-called state innovation waivers in the Wyden-Brown bill might allow a state to experiment with ways to entice people to obtain insurance rather than requiring them to buy policies. It also might allow interested states to establish a single-payer system in which the government is the sole insurer. Gov. Peter Shumlin, a newly elected Democrat in Vermont, is pursuing such a proposal.
Vermont is of course not the only state pursuing single payer health insurance at the state level. The California state legislature, in the previous session, passed single payer health insurance, which was then vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger. Since November's election, California crashed the red wave by electing not only a Democratic governor and giving Democrats a clean sweep in statewide offices, but also by increasing the Democratic majority in the state legislature. If it so happens that our state can opt out of setting up an exchange altogether in favor of establishing a single payer system beginning in 2014 rather than 2017, it may well take that chance.

There might even be a little domino effect:
“State waivers give progressive reformers in California and elsewhere the ability to move forward on ambitious reform plans that can pass at the ballot box in 24 states but would never get the time of day in Washington,” Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court said in a statement.
24 states. Say single payer passes in even five of them. Maybe the GOP should be careful what it wishes for.

Of course, their big idea is they don't really want to cover as many people. They don't really want to expand coverage. They don't really want to make good coverage affordable. They don't really want a public responsibility for public health. They want tax cuts. To the insurance companies. Well, that's not going to get you an waiver.


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