Last night’s meeting provided a sharp contrast to the event held by Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/11/crowds-get-rough-and-rowd_n_256475.html . Ground rules were quickly laid out- no disruptions- and civility was maintained by the hundred plus people in the sweltering room.
Davis, a congresswoman from the 53rd district, presented a brief over view of the current House bill on health care.
• No proposed changes to VA or TRICARE coverage– programs that provide health care to military
• Preserve Medicare and close the “donut holes” (coverage gaps in the prescription program)
• No health care for illegal immigrants. She actually cited the page number in the document
• I believe she said that abortion coverage would NOT be required of insurance companies- I promise to get the facts
• Insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions; plans can’t drop subscribers when serious medical conditions occur
• Market competition incentives will be provided to keep prices in check by encouraging more insurance providers
• A Health Insurance Exchange will be created to compare plans, their premium costs and co-pays
• Government will NOT select a particular health plan for any individual- completely individual choice
• There will be some form of public option
• The anticipated cost is 1.4 Trillion Dollars
What does this mean? The House bill and Davis’ own efforts are focused on insurance reform. And here I thought we elected a new president and a whole pile of Democrats because we wanted health care reform. True health care reform- Universal Coverage/Single Payer is languishing in the House in the form of HR 676.
Davis addressed the cost issue by pointing out the long term savings associated with the bill’s emphasis on wellness, reduction of administrative duplication and sharing technology and information. Insurance companies will have a 15% cap on “administrative” costs, an extremely generous amount if it is indeed true that administration costs associated with Medicare are only 3%.
Comments and questions from the crowd were noteworthy and comprised the majority of the hour allotted.
• Single payer remains a goal and a live issue. A Vet stood up and said he loves his insurance (VA/government) and that the bill must include a strong public option. Another comment was that insurance companies should be eliminated completely from the health care issue. Davis responded that there weren’t the votes in Congress.
• Someone asked why there is such intense discussion about the costs associated with health care reform, yet there is little public discussion about the horrendous costs of sending people to war.
• Davis was asked what she is doing to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She said she supports the repeal and has been working behind the scenes with mid-level military representatives on implementation strategies. She did not mention a timeline.
• Questions about how much would an individual policy cost, or whether hearing aides would be covered in the public option were raised. Specific individual information could not be provided. (here’s a site that provides some details:
• One speaker informed the crowd that organic foods, nutritional supplements and farmer’s markets would be eliminated in the bill. Yes- there were some incoherent, ill-informed sentiments expressed.
It is disappointing that Davis is looking to the States already to make up for whatever ends up lacking in the federal bill. That’s how we end up with states with widely disparate services which create national social inequalities. And it is disappointing that so much effort and public monies are going to be expended to reform the insurance industry. W.C. Fields said “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of your time and annoys the hell out of the pig.”
I left the meeting room and entered the noisy throng in the streets. You would never guess from the signs carried by the very small group representing the party of no that what was expressed inside by our representative was pretty ho-hum. “Black National Socialism is No Utopia.” “Obama Health Care: Take 2 aspirin and drop dead.” And of course those posters of Obama as Joker http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/08/reading-into-the-obamaasjoker-poster-or-not.html
A woman who attended the meeting and was now sitting at a restaurant table commented that Davis was proposing something that “sounded a lot like communism.”
There seems to be a parallel universe and it is very, very weird.