Lieberman, Moderate Dems Oppose Public Option

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Democrats, Health Care

Well, at least the opt out version.

Here’s Joe…

“We’re trying to do too much at once,” Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.”

And guess what? They don’t have the votes in the House either…

The House Dem leadership has conducted its preliminary whip count and has tallied up less than 200 likely Yes votes in support of a health care reform bill with a robust public option, well short of the 218 needed for passage, according to an internal whip count document I’ve obtained.

The document — compiled by the office of House leader James Clyburn — was distributed privately at a meeting between Clyburn and House progressives today where the fate of the public option was the subject of some contentious debate, with liberals demanding that House leaders push harder to win over votes.

Clyburn spokesperson Kristie Greco would only say: “We currently do not have the votes for a robust public option.”

So Harry Reid, who ignored all of the warnings, is now set to put forth a bill that will most likely get filibustered?

I don’t think so.

My guess was that this was one last public push to show liberal interests group that there isn’t enough support.

Back to the co-ops…


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 and is filed under Democrats, Health Care. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

22 Responses to “Lieberman, Moderate Dems Oppose Public Option”

  1. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Dude,

    The “robust” public option is just one of the potential public options on offer. It would be tied to Medicare payments, and de facto be a Medicare everyone could buy into if they wanted. It’s not getting in the Senate bill and it’s clearly in trouble in the House.

    If I had to I’d bet against it, but it’s not dead in the House yet. There are only 178 Republicans in the House, so if some of those troubled moderates agree to vote “Present,” it’d pass. And this story does not mention Stupak’s pro-life faction. He’s supposedly got 40 who won’t vote for any proposal that does not have stronger pro-life language.

    A less robust public option will come out of the House, even if those maneuvers I mentioned don’t work. Lieberman makes the Senate tricky, but his reasons for opposing a public option are nonsense according to the CBO, and there should be another CBO report out soon telling him that.

    Even if Lieberman persists in his batshit crazy assertion the plan would add to the deficit we can go with a trigger, and piock up Olympia Snowe.

  2. Tweets that mention Donklephant » Blog Archive » Lieberman, Moderate Dems Oppose Public Option -- Topsy.com Says:

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  3. Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Public Option Lacks Votes To Get Through House Of Representatives Says:

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  4. Jim S Says:

    You mean the co-ops that also don’t have the votes? There is no reform that will really help that will get the votes. The co-ops and exchanges are proposed for one reason and one reason only. Blind faith in the free market system. Insurance companies will still have policies with loopholes. They will still take months to pay health care providers while cutting off anyone who treats them similarly. They will still practice rescission in one form or another. They will still have language that is completely opaque to the consumer, making informed decision making, and therefore honest competition, impossible.

  5. kranky kritter Says:

    My guess was that this was one last public push to show liberal interests group that there isn’t enough support.

    or it was a little one act play to entertain progressives. Reid gets to play hero to progressives on something he knows he can’t pass, and pariah Lieberman agrees to be co-bad-guy along with Olympia Snowe.

  6. kranky kritter Says:

    Even if Lieberman persists in his batshit crazy assertion the plan would add to the deficit…

    Right. Because despite all of Lieberman’s time in the senate, his highly regarded job as dem VP candidate, and the wide esteem he has among senators, we all know he’s just a kook. After all, he supported the Iraq war and betrayed the democratic party. So he must be wrong. He may call himself an independent, but he might as well be another Republican, just like all the others in the pocket of big pharma and the insurance lobby.

    If Lieberman thinks the CBO is off the mark, he must be a whackjob. He’s not smart, shrewd, or experienced. Let’s just ignore him.

  7. Alistair Says:

    More likely that they will go back to the Trigger Option that Snowe offer.

  8. blackout Says:

    As Nick mentions, Stupak and his coalition are an interesting last minute monkey wrench. Here’s hoping it’s a momentary distraction. He seemed pretty reasonable on teevee.

  9. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Right. Because despite all of Lieberman’s time in the senate, his highly regarded job as dem VP candidate, and the wide esteem he has among senators, we all know he’s just a kook.

    That wasn’t ad hominem. I wasn’t attacking Lieberman, I was attacking his claim. Specifically he’s claiming that the bill with a public option will be worse for the taxpayer than a bill without it.

    That’s a claim every expert I have ever read disagrees with. Every proposed version of the public option is funded by premiums, just like all the alternatives to the public option are. Granted low-income folks get subsidized premiums, but the subsidies apply to co-ops and private insurance plans too. Therefore simple mathematics dictates that the public option will only cost taxpayers more if it drives overall costs up.

    Nobody knowledgeable about the issue thinks a strong public option would do that. In fact amongst wonks opposition to the public option is usually based on the idea that it will keep costs too low, which will drive insurers out of business, and reduce the quality of care.

    blackout,
    Stupak is reasonable. And he badly wants to support this bill. But he is also an extremely committed Catholic. He’s not really a last minute monkey wrench because he’s been saying he can’t support a healthcare bill that subsidizes plans that pay for abortions since the beginning. If Pelosi doesn’t move on this issue he’ll vote no, and she’s known it for months.

    If he’s actually got 40 other Democrats on his side she’ll have to cave.

    Lieberman, OTOH, waited until Reid announced the final bill to let people know his objections to a public option. Given that those objections are obvious BS, it’s very easy to conclude he’s throwing a monkey wrench just to throw a monkey wrench.

  10. Gaucho Politico Says:

    Nick Benjamin is entirely correct. The only principled reason for Lieberman doing what he is doing is the representation of the insurance companies in his state. Otherwise his reasons are totally illogical and at odds with every real world evaluation of the policy at play.

  11. the Word Says:

    So if Catholics want to have large families and I think that large families are not good for the country and put an undue burden on others with more “responsibly sized” families could I take a principled stand that they should not receive family care over a certain number of children?

    Abortion is legal. If it is legal and it is a medical procedure, why don’t doctors get to decide instead of someone who doesn’t agree with the law of the land? If we all started to say “But I don’t want to have to accept this part of anything” We’d have no laws. IMO, it’s a horrible precedent. I realize Hyde already demagogued it into policy but we have a legislative procedure because it is supposed to decide something – not get to a point where a group forces us to ignore it for them. If they don’t like it, change the law.

  12. Nick Benjamin Says:

    I don’t agree with him on this one either.

    Pelosi might need him to get to 218, and I prefer giving millions some health care, to totally killing reform in the hopes that in two years we can give everyone comprehensive care (including abortions).

    In the future it will be much easier to tweak this proposal than it will be to create a new one from scratch.

  13. kranky kritter Says:

    Every proposed version of the public option is funded by premiums, just like all the alternatives to the public option are. Granted low-income folks get subsidized premiums, but the subsidies apply to co-ops and private insurance plans too. Therefore simple mathematics dictates that the public option will only cost taxpayers more if it drives overall costs up.

    Nobody knowledgeable about the issue thinks a strong public option would do that. In fact amongst wonks opposition to the public option is usually based on the idea that it will keep costs too low, which will drive insurers out of business, and reduce the quality of care.

    I don’t believe for a second that more people are going to be insured for less money.

    Should middle class folks who are already substantially paying their own freight be delighted because someone says that the plan will be “paid for with premiums?” After this plan finishes subsidizing all of the low income folks starting at 90% for folks at 2X poverty, are folks above any subsidy level really supposed to believe that their premiums won’t go up?

    The money has to come from somewhere. Little bits will come from cuts in reimbursements and so on, but the rest is likely to come from middle class pockets. Who really cares whether this is done by taxing us more to pay for the reinbursements or by inflating the premiums of those who are not being subsidized?

  14. mike mcEachran Says:

    @ the Word: Free speech is protected by law, but there are limitations on that. I don’t see a problem making a procedure (abortion) available on demand, but not requiring tax payers to subsidize it. I think that is more than fair. We can’t pretend to know for sure where the moral high ground is on this issue – the best we can say is ‘we don’t know’. IMO, it is imoral to take away choice, but it is equally imoral to legislate complicity.

  15. Nick Benjamin Says:

    I don’t believe for a second that more people are going to be insured for less money.

    If the public option saves money some of those savings can be put into expanded coverage.

    And the public option will save money. Up until two days ago all the opposition was based on the premise the public option would save too much money, therefore driving insurers out of business, and reducing competition in the long run.

    But since that particular line of argument didn’t work Lieberman made some crap up about the budget.

    After this plan finishes subsidizing all of the low income folks starting at 90% for folks at 2X poverty, are folks above any subsidy level really supposed to believe that their premiums won’t go up?

    There is no link between the premium you pay and the subsidy anyone else will receive. Subsidies are paid for by the federal government. Under the senate finance committee bill some of this money comes from taxes on premiums above $25,000 a year, but almost nobody pays that much. Under the other four none of the new taxes have anything to do with premiums.

    It’s mathematically possible that the feds would have to raise taxes more to cover the subsidies. But that only happens if the public option doesn’t work.

    Lieberman is making a very specific argument. Namely that with a public option the Feds will be on the hook for more money than with the co-ops. Mathematically that can only happen if he believes the public option will reduce prices less than the co-ops do. He’s got no expertise on the issue, and nobody who has expertise thinks co-ops would save more money than the public option.

    Thus Lieberman’s argument is batshit insane.

  16. mike mcEachran Says:

    Thanks for explaining that, Nick. To my eye, neither Leiberman nor anyone opposed to the public option has made a clear case to explain why they’re against it except for vague notions of “government take over”, which leaves me questioning their motivations. I do question insurance industry comtributions; and I do think Leiberman is prone to being swayed by dollars. I think they all are, and since the pols against the public option collect money from those who have a direct financial stake in the matter – they owe us a detailed explanation as to why the increased competition is NOT in our best interest. They owe us that, and so far, they are not delivering a cogent position that helps to mitigate their obvious conflict of interest. It has always bugged me that we don’t hold these pols more accountable for these kinds of conflicts. Speak up Leiberman, tell us again why more competition among insurance companies is bad for us?? Or is it just bad for you?

  17. the Word Says:

    Right back @mcEachran-
    First, abortion isn’t on demand. Second, even if it were (and were legal) a decision to have or not have one should be between a doctor and a patient who decides not some one not even remotely involved in the decision. (Otherwise, I think it smacks of a religious group interfering in a medical decision)

    And …Complicity??

    If you think that you have used sound reasoning to come to your conclusion, there are a few things I think I should have veto over. (I’m sure everyone could come up with their own list)

    1) The trillion or so dollars for the Iraq War.
    2) Money spent on the first Iraq war
    3) The money spent for torture and rendition
    4) Money spent on the death penalty
    5) Money sent to any church (whether for faith based programs or through allowing them to not pay taxes) Thus forcing the rest of us to subsidize them
    6) Any money sent to an organization engaged in long term systematic pedophilia and its coverup
    7) Money sent to school districts to detract from the teaching of science and to promote superstition
    8) Funding for the drug war
    9) Any aid to a country that treats it citizens like garbage
    ………..

    That will give you a start. Let me know when I can expect my refund check. Or do only some people have the right to choose what benefits to deny others?

  18. Victorena Minchew Says:

    I don’t understand how they can have a mandate without a public option. If you can’t afford insurance now, it will not be more “affordable” by being made mandatory.

    I can see this causing a lot of people to lose their health insurance…if it is cheaper for the employer to pay the tax (or fine, or penalty or whatever they want to call it) and not insure the employee…and if the employee can’t afford the insurance that was previously being paid by the employer…how does that help insure more people? Premiums will have to go up to enable the insurance companies to comply with all the new administrative requirements…I see “unintended consequences” of this legislation actually causing more people to be uninsured than ever!

  19. kranky kritter Says:

    Well, I’ll agree for one that’s it’s probably worth questioning Lieberman’s motives due to his connection to insurers. That’s a good point, He is after all from Connecticut.

    There is no link between the premium you pay and the subsidy anyone else will receive. Subsidies are paid for by the federal government.

    Riiiiight. I’m sure this is technically true. But the government is pretty much setting premium rates for those who are being subsidized, on a sliding scale, beginning at a 90% subsidy for those at or below the income level of 2 times the poverty rate. And then scaling back the subsidy rate as income rises. And paying for the subsidies using taxpayer dollars. And they are also going to tinker with reimbursement rates to providers via medicare.

    So number one, the subsidy is coming out of taxpayer pockets any way you slice it. Time is what will tell us whether taxes will have to be raised to cover costs. I’m from Massachusetts, so I had a front row seat for our state’s healthcare reform. Which is very similar to what’s going on with the fed plan, though the feds are less generous. As this planned rolled out, the absolutely least shocking aspect of it is that it cost way more than proponents promised it would, because proponents used best-case projections. Premiums had to be higher, it cost the state substantially more money when substantially more people enrolled than was predicted.

    If I had spare money to bet on it happening again with the fed plan, I’d lay it down in a fricken heartbeat. Where do we suppose all those extra Massachusetts subscribers came from? I’ll tell you…from among the ranks of the folks who lead lives not very well tracked by data-gathering. When the government says that they’ll cover like 93%, don’t you wonder about the other 7%? New faces are going to join the ranks of the data-tracked when this plan passes. Count on it.

    Number 2, who really thinks that all these alterations to the insurance market’s behavior due to the big influx of fed dollars and fed rules will have nothing but beneficial financial effects for those who WILL NOT receive federally subsidized care? When doctors get paid a fed-mandated lower reimbursement rate for a procedure covered by a medicare patient, where do you suppose they’ll make up the difference? Or do you expect doctors will just swallow the loss?

  20. blackoutyears Says:

    @Nick, it’s the threat of 40-41 additional no votes that makes this last minute. Stupak is one vote, so no one would pay attention to him unless he had the this threat to hold over them. Either he’s waited until now to unveil this alliance or it took this long. Either way, it’s last minute.

  21. Nick Benjamin Says:

    First off I’d like to point out that this is not what Lieberman is saying. He’s saying the plan WITHOUT a public option will cost the government more than a plan WITH it.

    He’s voting for the Exchanges, the individual mandate, and all the other stuff.

    Well, I’ll agree for one that’s it’s probably worth questioning Lieberman’s motives due to his connection to insurers. That’s a good point, He is after all from Connecticut.

    Especially since he’s done a 180 on the public option, did it right after the insurance companies did, and justifies it with their discredited talking points.

    There is no link between the premium you pay and the subsidy anyone else will receive. Subsidies are paid for by the federal government.

    Riiiiight. I’m sure this is technically true. But the government is pretty much setting premium rates for those who are being subsidized, on a sliding scale, beginning at a 90% subsidy for those at or below the income level of 2 times the poverty rate. And then scaling back the subsidy rate as income rises. And paying for the subsidies using taxpayer dollars. And they are also going to tinker with reimbursement rates to providers via medicare.

    They’re tinkering to reduces increases in provider payments. Which has nothing to do with the public option right now as Pelosi has taken Medicare reimbursement rates out of it.

    So number one, the subsidy is coming out of taxpayer pockets any way you slice it. Time is what will tell us whether taxes will have to be raised to cover costs. I’m from Massachusetts, so I had a front row seat for our state’s healthcare reform. Which is very similar to what’s going on with the fed plan, though the feds are less generous. As this planned rolled out, the absolutely least shocking aspect of it is that it cost way more than proponents promised it would, because proponents used best-case projections. Premiums had to be higher, it cost the state substantially more money when substantially more people enrolled than was predicted.

    If I had spare money to bet on it happening again with the fed plan, I’d lay it down in a fricken heartbeat. Where do we suppose all those extra Massachusetts subscribers came from? I’ll tell you…from among the ranks of the folks who lead lives not very well tracked by data-gathering. When the government says that they’ll cover like 93%, don’t you wonder about the other 7%? New faces are going to join the ranks of the data-tracked when this plan passes. Count on it.

    Massachusetts does not have a public option. Otherwise it’s quite similar to the DC plan.

    This thread is supposed to be about Lieberman’s statements on filibustering the public option.

    And apparently you support Lieberman because you hate the MA plan, and he wants national reform to be more like the MA plan.

    Number 2, who really thinks that all these alterations to the insurance market’s behavior due to the big influx of fed dollars and fed rules will have nothing but beneficial financial effects for those who WILL NOT receive federally subsidized care? When doctors get paid a fed-mandated lower reimbursement rate for a procedure covered by a medicare patient, where do you suppose they’ll make up the difference? Or do you expect doctors will just swallow the loss?

    Uhh…

    Mandatory Medicare payment cuts are actually already the Law. Clinton and Gingrich balanced the budget partly be saying if Medicare costs increased past a certain point payment rates would be cut.

    Doctors managed to delay implementation of the program every year for the past few years, so in January the total pay cut will be 21%. Obama doubts this pay cut will happen, but it’s in the budget. He actually tried to get rid of the mandatory cuts completely, but that would have added. $245 Billion to the deficit. That is dead in the Senate, but a House version will probably pass soon:
    http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/display/article/113619/1480603?verify=0

    The plan would replace those mandatory cuts with a nonpartisan board that would figure out fair payment rates, and only tolerate increases when they were justified.

  22. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @Nick, it’s the threat of 40-41 additional no votes that makes this last minute. Stupak is one vote, so no one would pay attention to him unless he had the this threat to hold over them. Either he’s waited until now to unveil this alliance or it took this long. Either way, it’s last minute.

    This is pretty much what he’s been saying since July:
    http://michiganmessenger.com/23823/in-health-care-debate-stupak-gives-mixed-signals-on-abortion-funding

    The only difference is back then he had 19 votes behind him. Apparently he’s got a few more votes now.

    It’s not his fault Pelosi made a tactical decision to ignore him. She’s the Speaker, she made the call, and she may have screwed up.

    OTOH, Lieberman’s opposition is totally out of the blue. Reid didn’t know Lieberman would threaten filibuster, and couldn’t easily predict that he would do so because Joe Lieberman has been consistently liberal on economic issues. If he wasn’t he probably wouldn’t win elections in CT.

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