Jane Hamsher has convinced me: Pass The Bill!

None other than Jane Hamsher has convinced me that the Senate health care bill is, in fact, better than the status quo. I know, what? Jane Hamsher? Isn't she the FDL warrior fighting against this Senate bill? Yes, yes she is. But she gave me some particular pieces of information that I was very impressed by.

I got an email from her this morning excoriating the vices of the current Senate bill. Don't get me wrong, I think the bill is full of vices. It's also on the FDL website with a petition. And it convinced me that this bill must pass and is much, much, much better than the status quo.

She argues that the bill:
Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations -- whether you want to or not
What? Really? The government can't force me to pay more than 8%? That's incredible! If American families could get health insurance for only 8% of their income, you could bet a lot more of us would have it. In 2008, the average family premium for health insurance was $12,298. In 2003, the median income of a family of 4 was $67,019. So, umm... a typical family of 4, in the status quo is paying, let's see, over 18% of their income in health insurance premiums. Put it another way, a typical family of four would see their premiums reduced from $12,298 under the status quo to $5361.52. And remember that incomes over about $66,000 a year are not provided premium subsidies by the government, and still cannot be charged more than 8% if it is to be subject to the mandate of the law  - indicating a real and overall significant reduction of premiums going to insurance companies. Wow. This is fantastic!
If you refuse to buy the insurance, you'll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS
Yes, yes you will. That is, if your premiums aren't entirely covered by subsidies. Let's see. If you have the means to, but refuse to purchase insurance (these are the only people subject to this penalty, since there is a hardship exemption), you are going to use emergency rooms as your primary health care center. And we, as taxpayers, will be paying for you. Don't you think it's fair for you to pay a little bit in so that when you do come to the emergency room, they are not all closed down?
After being forced to pay thousands in premiums for junk insurance, you can still be on the hook for up to $11,900 a year in out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Where is she getting this $11,900 number? Out of pocket expense cap? If that's where she is getting it, I would like to compare this to the out of pocket expenses under the status quo. There are no caps. You can have a "deductible" per incident of $1000 or more. If you have "good" insurance, maybe your insurance covers 80% of your hospital care up to 30 days every year. That's the status quo. Under the senate bill, it caps your out-of-pocket expenses. That's supposed to be worse than the status quo? I'm at a loss over here.
Jane is also a little misleading. The Senate bill's out-of-pocket expenses are limited on a sliding scale (as are premiums) for people up to 400% of poverty, and above that, to $5,950 for individual plans and $11,900 for family plans.

So in simple terms - the Senate bill is limiting the total amount of health care expenses to 18% of your income - whereas it is more than that for simply your premiums today, and all your out-of-pocket expenses (may include your home) is extra. If someone wants me to believe that this is not progress, I am going to need to see the dictionary definition of progress changed first.
Massive restriction on a woman's right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court
Just when she was about to get one right, she screws up. Yes, the bill places disgusting restrictions on a woman's right to choose. That's deplorable. But it is not, in any way, shape or form, designed to "trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade." That's insane. Roe makes abortions legal, and nothing more. The Supreme Court has always been regrettably deferential to Congress and legislatures about whether public dollars may fund, or contribute to any plans that fund, abortion services. That's stupid and it's nuts, but to say that this bill is set up to challenge Roe is nonsense.
Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-pays [sic]
Yes, because your employer isn't already cutting back your benefits and increasing your co-pays. And middle class insurance plans? The so-called Cadillac tax applies to individual plans costing over $8500 (and only to the amount over $8500) and family plans costing over $23,000 (and only to the amount over $23,000). It's a steep 40% tax, and I would rather not have it, but it is not by far what most health insurance premiums cost.
Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won't see any benefits -- like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions -- until 2014 when the program begins.
This is a right wing talking point, and dead wrong. Several progressives have pointed out the benefits of the bill that begin immediately upon the drying of the presidential ink such as ending of denial of coverage based on pre-existing condition, small business tax credits for providing insurance, the ending of the most annual and lifetime benefit caps (it ends completely in 2013), etc. Here's Al Franken taking down Republican John Thune on this:

The bill also:
Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others
Finally, something she gets completely right. 7th point out of 10. Bravo.
Grants monopolies to to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market.
And which bill would have allowed this, Jane? The House bill does not have a re-importation nor a quicker way to bring generics to the market.
No reimportation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years
Ding ding! Correct, but see above. The House bill doesn't do it either. It's not like Jane would be falling over everyone to pass this bill if a simple reimportation clause was included. By the way, the Dorgan amendment, which I support vigorously, got a vote in the Senate. Sadly, it was defeated.
The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of 4 will rise an average of $1000 a year -- meaning in 10 years, you family's insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now.
This is sheer baloney.  First she argues that the out-of-pocket caps and the premium controls aren't strong enough, and then now she seems to be saying there aren't any controls at all!  Your premium expenses are capped at 8% of your income if the insurance companies want you to be subject to the legal mandate, which is too high, but your premium will also go up by $10,000 even if your income doesn't rise comparatively.  $10,000 is 8% of $125,000, i.e. for your health insurance premiums to rise by $10K, and for you to remain subject to the legal mandate, your income would have to rise by $125,000 under the Senate bill.  She can't have it both ways.  There can't both be a 8% "too-high" cap on premiums for you to be subject to the mandate, and your premium go up $10K over 10 years.

I do credit this email for focusing my attention and priorities. Overall, I am now convinced that if this isn't a good bill, it is light years better than the status quo. I am sorry, but I am not willing to join Jane's coalition of status quo caucus. So today, I am standing on the status of kicking status quo's ass, however imperfectly. I'm standing on the side of a better bill. I am calling on the Senate to pass the bill.

Update: Ooh, I forgot to put this up first. My bad, Jane. I pay myself. I'm a freelance web designer who's having a lot of trouble paying for my insurance.

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