It’s beginning to look like centrist “Blue Dog” Democrats might be forced to fall in line with the public option on healthcare reform. Progressive senators, such as Bernie Sanders, informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that a critical 10 to 15 votes would be withheld from a bill that not only features no public option but calls for taxing health benefits. Reid, in turn, was forced to pass along the news to Blue Dog Max Baucus. In the House, progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Lynn Woolsey seconded that.
At Open Left, Chris Bowers writes: “This is like some beautiful dream come true.” Furthermore, he explains, Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin are “now pressing all Senate Democrats to stick together on ‘procedural votes’ [to rule out] Republican filibusters. … Doing so would mean Democrats only need 50 votes to pass legislation.”
According to a new poll by the Employee Benefit Research Institute:
Between 68 percent and 88 percent of Americans either strongly or somewhat support health reform ideas such as national health plans, a public plan option, guaranteed issue, expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, and employer and individual mandates. …
While 14 percent of Americans think the health care system needs a major overhaul, 51 percent agree with the statement “there are some good things about our health care system, but major changes are needed.”
Conservatives are using this poll to show Americans are generally satisfied with their health-care. But it seems evident from the results that while Americans may not support health-care reform wholeheartedly, few oppose it in its entirety.
Meanwhile, at the Hill, Jeffrey Young labeled the following refrain Obama’s “mantra”: “If you are happy with your plan and you are happy with your doctor, then we don’t want you to have to change.”
Who exactly, aside from the super-rich, is happy with his or her health care? The EBRI poll also reports: “Only a small minority rate it excellent (6 percent) or very good (10 percent).” Where does this mythical beast reside?
Sure, you’ll find those who claim to cite concerns about big government and fear that taxes will be raised. Others parrot the line about how Canadians are forced to wait six months to see a specialist. But that doesn’t mean they’re happy — more likely, they just find their health-care plans fair.
But I think I figured it out. Americans who are happy with their health-care plans are those vestigial few who pay low premiums. Yes, citizens who pay $25 to $100 per month on plans where their employers spring for the rest still exist. To them, exorbitant co-pays (like $50 in the emergency room on mine) are a small price to pay, as are deductibles. (Why Americans accept these two practices when they give the appearance of double-dipping — it feels like we’re paying the insurance company twice — is an ongoing puzzle.)
Like those who still receive pensions, those paying low premiums are dinosaurs. For them to draw the conclusion that their good fortune applies to the rest of the country requires an obliviousness breathtaking in its scope.
What then will a public option knock off the exorbitant health-care premiums we pay? A couple of hundred dollars per month? Not much, but at least then the “second rent” (or mortgage, as the case may be) that we’re currently paying might be reduced to the equivalent of a second car payment.