No wonder The One digs it.
Obama hailed “a creative new framework that I believe will help pave the way for final passage of legislation and a historic achievement for the American people.” He said, “I support this effort, especially since it’s aimed at increasing choice and competition and lowering cost.”
A provision opening Medicare to uninsured Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 drew praise from some liberals.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., called it “an unvarnished, complete victory for people like me who have been arguing for a single-payer system.”
[E]xpanding Medicare would go further to advance the original aims of liberals than the watered down version of the public option. By definition, the Medicare option (which would eventually be offered on the exchange to those over 55) would set reimbursement rates at Medicare levels, thus putting the squeeze on doctors and offering lower premiums that would make it more difficult for private insurers to compete. As with the public option, liberals will try to argue that the Medicare expansion will be funded by the premiums it collects, but it will benefit from the taxpayer-funded infastructure that is already in place to support Medicare — not to mention potential subsidies down the road…
For liberals who view a single-payer, or government-run, health care system as ideal (and that list begins with President Obama), the goal of health care legislation was to move the nation as far as they could in that direction, knowing that the best way to achieve their goal over time was by building on the current system with which people are familiar.
If Democrats unite behind this “compromise” and the broader legislation becomes law, liberals will have largely succeeded. The legislation already expands Medicaid and S-CHIP by 15 million people and coupled with the Medicare expansion, most newly covered Americans would simply be added to the rolls of existing government-run programs. Millions more would be using government subsidies to purchase government-designed insurance policies on a government-run exchange. And the rest of the system would be subject to so many taxes, penalties, and mandates that it wouldn’t resemble a private market in any meaningful sense of the word.
The Mayo Clinic, which Obama once touted as a model for delivering excellent health care at lower costs, hates the Senate compromise because even they can’t make costs low enough to make Medicare viable. They lost $840 million last year on the program; expanding it, they note, would be “unsustainable” and “disastrous.” Which we already knew given the projections about the program’s inevitable bankruptcy, but it can’t hurt having experts remind the Senate of it. The question now: Does Reid have the votes? Thune and Bob Bennett both predict that Snowe won’t go for it and that Reid will have to face a united GOP caucus. That leaves him needing 60 from his own side, but Landrieu and Lincoln are already insisting that no deal’s been struck and Lieberman’s been adamant in opposing any system that could lead to single-payer. Between Nelson, Lincoln, Lieberman, Bayh, and Pryor, figure right now the Dems are probably still two votes short.
Exit question: If the compromise is a relatively sweet deal for the left, why are nutroots activists opposing it? Would they really rather have an age-unlimited public option that a Medicare expansion that might lead to the progressive dream of single-payer?