Last night, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid announced a compromise health care reform bill with just enough public option that looks like it will pass – Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are on board.
“I’ve got you this time, Brer Rabbit,” said Brer Fox, jumping up and shaking off the dust. “You’ve sassed me for the very last time. Now I wonder what I should do with you?”
Brer Rabbit’s eyes got very large. “Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”
Private insurance didn’t cave. They loooooove what the Senate is now proposing. Sure, Brer Reid and his fellow Senate foxes probably think they got the better of the private insurance lobby last night…
“The briar patch, eh?” said Brer Fox. “What a wonderful idea! You’ll be torn into little pieces!”
Stop for a moment and think about it. The compromise proposal appears to give an option to those 55 and older to pay a premium and buy-in to Medicare – theoretically, at no cost to taxpayers. Sure, it is a government option. Sure, it may grease the path to an eventual single payer system. But my god, look at what it will do for the private insurance companies: it will move the most expensive customers they have off their books. Those very customers who have so many of the expensive pre-existing conditions. Those customers who take expensive medicines to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and extend their lives. A virtual bonanza that will turn their premium amortization tables upside down.
“Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”
The Senate compromise proposal will likely carry a trigger – if the private insurance companies don’t hold premium costs down, there is a threat of a public option for everyone. No problem. Without the 55 plus-ers, insurance costs per policy will reduce dramatically (younger policy holders don’t cost nearly as much to insure), making the trigger an empty threat.
Grabbing up the tar-covered rabbit, Brer Fox swung him around and around and then flung him head over heels into the briar patch. Brer Rabbit let out such a scream as he fell that all of Brer Fox’s fur stood straight up. Brer Rabbit fell into the briar bushes with a crash and a mighty thump. Then there was silence.
Wait, you say, they will have fewer policyholders, won’t that increase the costs? That is not the way this briar patch is being grown. Both the House and the Senate bill will require everyone to buy insurance – private insurance – and provide taxpayer subsidies for those making up to 4 times the poverty level to do so. Instantly, the insurance companies will get 30 to 40 million new and cheaper customers paying full premium rates and will be singing the Song of the South.
Then Brer Fox heard someone calling his name. He turned around and looked up the hill. Brer Rabbit was sitting on a log combing the tar out of his fur with a wood chip and looking smug.
“I was bred and born in the briar patch, Brer Fox,” he called. “Born and bred in the briar patch.”
And Brer Rabbit skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Fox ground his teeth in rage and went home.