If the GOP really believes in insurance reform, they believe in more government regulation

Since the Washington inside-the-Beltway talking heads are dominated by folks who see politics as a heavy-weight boxing match, some of the pundits were grumbling this morning that yesterday’s health care summit produced “no clear winners.” They’re wrong. Despite partisan bickering, rambling diatribes and cliched talking points, the summit was a win for American voters, who were able to witness leaders from the two parties airing essential philosophical differences. (I hope those of you who’ve complained that the health care debate was not on C-SPAN watched all seven hours.)

The biggest difference is this: Democrats do believe in government regulation, and Republicans don’t. (The Democrats’ bill, once again, is not a “government takeover.” The vast majority of Americans would still get their health care from private insurers.)

Here’s the contradiction with the Republican vision: If you really want insurance reform, you can only get it with government regulation. As the incomparable Ezra Klein puts it:

Competition only flourishes in an environment of effective information. When you make the regulation less dependable, you make the product less dependable, which means you remove necessary information from the system and make it harder for individuals to figure out how to make good decisions. If I hear a lot of horror stories about people buying insurance that unexpectedly abandons them when they get sick, I’ll be less likely to try and change mine if I’m dissatisfied with it, as I can’t be confident that my next carrier will treat me better.

The major step forward for competition is the exchanges, which have regulators making sure the insurance is good enough to deserve the name; which allow consumers to rate the plans; which force the plans to offer standardized information so they easy to compare; which provide a large numbers of plans to choose from; which makes it easier to shop for your insurance in one place; and so on. Yet Blackburn didn’t make mention of them. Competition is a good idea. But there’s precious little Republican enthusiasm for the policies that would actually promote it.

95 comments Add your comment

quod erat demonstrandum

February 26th, 2010
7:59 am

When the President said, we will not start over – he became the reigning champion of the Party of NO.

Keep up the good fight!

February 26th, 2010
8:21 am

Starting over would be a waste of time and unnecessary delay. The Republicants showed they were all talking points and no substance. That is not the way you negotiate in good faith and the Republicants have shown why even their own wingnuts are turning on them

Bob

February 26th, 2010
8:23 am

Are the regulators in the exchanges the same group that gets me such a good return on the thousands I am forced to invest in Social Security ?
Maybe they are the same ones that said the system worked after the near miss of the undie bomber. Did any catch all the sob stories yesterday ?
Obo said no theatre and scolded a repub for bringing in the bill, then we hear the idiot Louise Slaughter tell the sob story about a woman in her district that was so poor she used her sisters dentures? If we pass healthcare that woman will still be as poor, why do we need to hear these sob stories when we were supposed to hear a debate about the bill. Why don’t dems want to talk about the bill specifics ?

Keep up the good fight!

February 26th, 2010
8:25 am

CT, right on point. The regulation is “bad” chats are complete lunacy. Regulation is always needed, it just needs to be smart regulation and effectively enforced. Republicants cannot say they are for health care reform to start over and that they will support the required regulation, unless they agree to the public option. The public option alleviates a great deal of comprehensive regulation because it simply says the public will chose by their monetary votes who has the better idea…the private companies paying a few pennies of your premium dollar on claims and having a profit motive to deny claims or the public insurance with its demonstrated low overhead and efficiency.

Bubba

February 26th, 2010
8:26 am

Since liberals are always so concerned with how Europe view us, I thought this observation from Chris Ayers of the Time of London would interest you:

Obama, looking incongruously glamorous in a crisp white shirt and blue tie — like Jamie Foxx chairing a convention of Pittsburgh cement contractors — gave an Oscar-worthy performance as the Concerned Listener.

He listened with his chin raised and his eyes narrowed. His listened with his head resting quizzically in one hand. He listened while scribbling furiously in his notebook. Indeed, it was only when one of his own allies began to speak — the purple-suited Nancy Pelosi, famed for her left-wing politics and fondness for private jets — that Obama’s camera-talent abandoned him, and he allowed himself to be filmed with his middle finger creeping over his lips, as if urging Ms Pelosi to shut the hell up and take the next Gulfstream back to California.

Bob

February 26th, 2010
8:26 am

keepup, what point did Obo discuss, he would not discuss what certain goups are given special rights when McCain brought it up. All dems did was read letters from people that were having problems, no debate.

Granny Godzilla

February 26th, 2010
8:29 am

The key word is “IF”…..and I don’t think they do.

Granny Godzilla

February 26th, 2010
8:32 am

bob

are you referring to the moment when President Obama told Senator McCain
that he had a good point (on the florida medicare deal) and it took the good Senator a minute or so to process the response and dial down the waving arms and hysterical voice?

Bob

February 26th, 2010
8:32 am

Keepup, thats funny, “The public option alleviates a great deal of comprehensive regulation because it simply says the public will chose by their monetary votes who has the better idea”. Healthcare profits are about 3.4% on the dollar, half of that or more is from invesrment income. Cynthia, if profit was such a bad thing, could you tell us what a thousand dollar a month premium would be if that 1 or 2 percent was zero ?

Vinny

February 26th, 2010
8:38 am

Obama showed himself to be nothing but a condescending a@@.

Scott

February 26th, 2010
8:40 am

Bob….Thanks…There is an ounce of sanity on this blog today. How is it fair that one person that is part of a union that supports obama can get a healthcare plan cheaper than somebody that is not part of a union that support obama? Also, nobody has ever been able to explain why this whole entire reform needs to be put in place all at once. Why can’t it be done in stages. They claim there is $250B currently out there in waste. How about you actually FIND the waste and FIX that instead of creating a whole new system that will end up in MORE waste? Prove you can fix that and then let’s see where we can go. It seems that this course of action is easier to perform, would provide more immediate gains, and probably be of lesser cost to the taxpayer.

Keep up the good fight!

February 26th, 2010
8:42 am

Bob, nice spin! We are not talking healthcare profits, we are talking health insurance industry profits. But even 3% profits are higher than the returns in most industries. Now add back in the millions paid to CEOs and the summits and look at the % of premium to claims.

If there really are the thin margins you claim, they certainly would not have the money to pay 8 lobbyist for every legislator

Joel Edge

February 26th, 2010
8:43 am

The only winners in this little show was the media. Just by showing up the Republicans blew it. The Democrats haven’t advanced the case for this big chunk of government take over.
If you believe any of this spin from the Dems, you’re probably also waiting for all of those high tech jobs you were promised back in the 90’s.

Curios

February 26th, 2010
8:46 am

Cynthia,
Come on now. I have been on your blog for two days suggesting solutions that will truly rein in costs, like changing the structure of the law in terms of medical malpractise cases to reduce the outrageous defense costs associated with defending unsubstantiated claims. Yet, you have failed to acknowledge me and continue to spill drivel like “the only option is more government” when clearly there are other options.

But honestly, why should I expect anything less than this from someone who won’t open her eyes to the possibility that she may be wrong….

Bubba

February 26th, 2010
8:46 am

Cynthia: Republicans don’t believe in government regulation? Really? Name one Republican who doesn’t believe in government regulation. Just one.

Granny Godzilla

February 26th, 2010
8:46 am

Scott

It has to do with honoring existing contracts. We were forced to watch as knuckelheads on Wall St. got huge bonuses because of existing employment agreements. The contract of a union plumber or electrician or transit worker should also be honored.

Keep up the good fight!

February 26th, 2010
8:50 am

Scott, lets just ignore your unsupported claim of “unfairness” in unions since you dont give any evidence to support it.

Which parts do you want to delay? The ones that say no denial of coverage for preexisiting conditions? The ones that have been proposed for over 50 years? Or the double digit premium increases proposed right now by Wellpoint in 13 states? Maybe the lifetime caps? Or the actual insurance industry deathpanels? Or maybe the denial of claims to consult with your doctor about alternatives and options for those who are dying?

What you are saying is that you are for more regulation of insurance companies which is what is needed to cut waste.

Road Scholar

February 26th, 2010
8:57 am

Let’s take off all regulation of the Senate/house healthcare with one exception. They can only get prescriptions of drugs still in testing. Better yet, let’s suspend their healthcare until reforms are made and all have an option to purchase the same healthcare insurance they can purchase at their price.

I watched the bulk of the discussions and I feel they aren’t that far apart except on how to get the majority of Americans healthcare. As for starting over, BS. The present Senate bill is written in English. I have a red pen that can be used to edit the bill, if they can’t figure out how to run WORD.

I propose to lock Lamar Alexander and the majority whip (can’t remember his name) in a room to work out a compromise bill. Keep the leadership (Boehmer, McConnell, Reid and Pelosi) away. (As a matter of fact, fire Pelosi and Reid and replace them with more qualified leadership; Boehmer and McConnell also showed their true colors yesterday-worthless). )

Kamchak

February 26th, 2010
8:58 am

Name one Republican who doesn’t believe in government regulation. Just one.

The name Alan Greenspan immediately leaps to mind.

Bubba

February 26th, 2010
9:01 am

Kamchak, please back up that assertion. Show me where he said he opposed all government regulation. I’d be interested in reading that. Thanks.

Keep up the good fight!

February 26th, 2010
9:03 am

Curios, always nice to blame the lawyers with demands for tort reform. Just have the doctors take off the wrong leg or fail to follow proper protocol which leads to the death of your child and wonder why that doctor is allowed to continue to practice. The fact is that insurance premiums for medical mal have skyrocketed but the actual claim dollars paid by medical mal insurers have increased minutely. The real villians are the insurance companies that not the tort lawyers.

And where there has been “tort reform” the anticipated savings in medical costs has not occurred….so maybe it is not the cause? Consumers need to be protected from bad medicine just as we need to be protected from protects with lead that may harm our children.

Old Shoes

February 26th, 2010
9:05 am

Republicans got their collective arses handed to them by the MAN again……

Robert

February 26th, 2010
9:15 am

Spot on Ms. Tucker- (unfortunately) even the men and women who drive BMWs and wear suit need serious regulation- probably more so than the wonderful warehouse worker.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 26th, 2010
9:16 am

Sorry Old Shoes,

The Democrats just showed us why the Congress has a 10% approval rating. The President will not accept any suggestion from the Republicans in that meeting. The Democrats will push this down our throats and it will get real messy come this November.

At least with fresh idiots in Congress, it will take them a while to screw things up again.

Kamchak

February 26th, 2010
9:16 am

Show me where he said he opposed all government regulation.

Well…let us go back to your original assertion–

“Name one Republican who doesn’t believe in government regulation.”

Now you have changed the parameters to “all government regulation.”

Nice try.

ctucker

February 26th, 2010
9:16 am

Curios, Here’s one answer to you:
Let’s just get that out of the way. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, arguing against capping malpractice awards, just said doing so would cut only about 1/5 of 1% of health spending. The Congressional Budget Office said in October it could save 0.5% of spending. Either way, it’s not the sole reason the U.S. health care system is growing at an unsustainable rate. That said, it’s part of the reason, which is why most health care economists I talk to favor malpractice reform.

Read more: http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2010/02/25/malpractice-reform-%e2%80%93-not-the-1-driver-of-medical-inflation/#ixzz0geS8bzNb

ctucker

February 26th, 2010
9:18 am

And here’s another answer on tort reform:

From Time magazine, Here’s another answer, Curios:
When Barack Obama informed congressional Republicans last month that he would support a controversial parliamentary move to protect health-care reform from a filibuster in the Senate, they were furious. That meant the bill could pass with a simple majority of 51 votes, eliminating the need for any GOP support. Where, they demanded, was the bipartisanship the President had promised? So, right there in the Cabinet Room, the President put a proposal on the table, according to two people who were present. Obama said he was willing to curb malpractice awards, a move long sought by Republicans that is certain to bring strong opposition from the trial lawyers who fund the Democratic Party.

What, he wanted to know, did the Republicans have to offer in return?

Nothing, it turned out. Republicans were unprepared to make any concessions, if they had any to make.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1895706,00.html#ixzz0geSexzfS

Tall

February 26th, 2010
9:19 am

Ms. Tucker:

If you want to buy health insurance in a highly regulated marketplace, move to New York. In the early 1990’s, the state moved to “community rating”. What this did is to force all health insurance underwriters to offer the same contract with the same benefits at the same price. The result: Only one company now offers health insurance in New York State and it is expensive. There used to be numerous carriers offering custom tailored plans in a price sensitive market. I know, I used to sell them.

I know you don’t believe this, but the free market does work…..if you let it. If insurance underwriters think they can make money in a particular segment of the market, they will go after it. Recently, American Family Insurance opened for business in the State of Georgia because they think they can make money here. Cotton States has also become more aggressive in it’s efforts to attract new business. Add to that Amica Mutual.

One of the main reasons medical costs have become so high is that we have a third party payer system that shields the end consumer from the actual price of the service. We all – myself included – want the best healthcare we can get as long as someone else pays for it. Improved technologies cost more. So does increased regulation.

Old Shoes

February 26th, 2010
9:23 am

Grow some balls stop the charade and ram reconciliation down their throats, while your at it buy some land in Texas and clear some brush on your next vacation….

Bubba

February 26th, 2010
9:23 am

So now you’re saying Greenspan DOES believe in government regulation? Which is it?

RealityKing

February 26th, 2010
9:25 am

1.20.13 The day America resets Obama’s progressive overcharges

>>День Америка сбрасывает Обамы прогрессивной переплаты -Russian

Robert

February 26th, 2010
9:29 am

I thought yesterday was a little “silly” on its face- but on reflection silly as in watching 5 year old soccer- a bunch of kids packing around a little soccer ball. Oddly enough, it may go down as an important step in American gov’t history. We sit in our cubes, offices, or unfortunately den sofas, thinking the people in the corner offices and in DC are really smart and do smart things in our best interest. These people fight transperancy just as the steroid guys in sports- they don’t want to be exposed. We, the people, just witnessed how boring their job is and how little they really accomplish. This transperancy will force change which just may be what the Pres really wants but has not been able to accomplish- anyway a little glass half full thought

quod erat demonstrandum

February 26th, 2010
9:31 am

ctucker,

Every little step toward real reform will help the budget. So tort reform will only save .5 – 1% – it is a start. It all adds up.

When will the waste from Medicare and Medicaid be addressed ?To listen to the President, only after this fuster cluck is passed?

RealityKing

February 26th, 2010
9:32 am

1.20.11 The day America throws out the progressive congressional trash

quod erat demonstrandum

February 26th, 2010
9:34 am

RealityKing

День без Obama на телевидении хороший день

Kamchak

February 26th, 2010
9:34 am

So now you’re saying Greenspan DOES believe in government regulation?

Nope.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 26th, 2010
9:39 am

Kamchak,

It is all about the degree of regulation.

Bubba

February 26th, 2010
9:42 am

Kamchuk, this is hilarious. So show me where Greenspan said he doesn’t believe in government regulation.

Keep up the good fight!

February 26th, 2010
9:42 am

Quod, how about a reality check there. The Republicans have been the ones running around claiming that health reform would cut medicare/medicaid benefits and those around the country who receive it cry “dont cut my medicare”. And the provisions the Republicans cite are provisions that accomplish some savings in medicare. Has healthcare reformed addressed all the problems? Nope. Did the Reps in 8 years? No, in fact they expanded coverage while acknowledging that it was not “paid for” and would add to the deficit.

So there are attempts to address waste and maybe if the Repubs stop abusing the fillibuster and quit the abuses that stop the government from what it is suppose to do, they could move on and address the many other issues that need fixing. Quit playing politics and get to work!

Scott

February 26th, 2010
9:43 am

Keep up,
“Scott, lets just ignore your unsupported claim of “unfairness” in unions since you don’t give any evidence to support it. ”
Lack of evidence??? What are you talking about? There is plenty of things out that show that those who are part of some select unions, were given special exemptions from taxes. They negotiated it through the White House. Of course the WH denies having any part of the negotiations because they weren’t actually in the same room sitting around a table but were instead in adjacent rooms. What a joke..

Also, what I am saying is that these clowns are saying that there is an immediate $250B in savings that can be provided right off the bat through inefficiencies in the system. They never specify what these savings are or where they come from, but yet we want to totally revamp EVERYTHING to solve them. Why don’t they take a 6-Sigma approach to solving the problem rather than having a bunch of Congressmen with zero experience in the industry that sit behind a podium in Congress solve it for us? It just seems like a very risky investment to me.

Don’t you think that spending $1T dollars during a time like this when the economy is in shambles and we already knee deep in debt is rather excessive. And for what? All of those things you mention are not even going to be solved with the plan. As reported by the CBO, 23 Million will still be without healthcare. Look it up. Wasn’t that what the whole point of this legislation? To get EVERYBODY healthcare. It appears as though it is missing the objective, isn’t it? Doesn’t that indicate that it is a poorly written bill if it doesn’t even meet the stated objective?

Scott

February 26th, 2010
9:45 am

Granny Godzilla,

“It has to do with honoring existing contracts. We were forced to watch as knuckelheads on Wall St. got huge bonuses because of existing employment agreements. The contract of a union plumber or electrician or transit worker should also be honored.”

Since when did government tax exemptions get included in union CBAs? Using that same line of thinking, if the government increased tax rates for everybody, then if you are a member of certain unions, you should be exempted from the tax increase because they are part of a CBA, right? Your rationale made no sense whatsoever.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 26th, 2010
9:46 am

Keep up the good fight!,

And you wonder how those clowns – both sides – even got to the point of being Congressmen.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 26th, 2010
9:47 am

Since, Government and Unions are exempt to a lot of the reforms, it should be imperative that they be subject to any bill we get saddled with.

How about it Progressives – what say you?

ctucker

February 26th, 2010
9:49 am

quod erat demonstrandum, what are you talking about? What reforms are government and the unions exempt from? ARe you talking about the tax on Cadillac policies? Everyone is “exempt” until 2018, when the tax goes into effect.

ctucker

February 26th, 2010
9:50 am

Bubba, He didn’t have to say it. Greenspan fought regulation of Wall Street through his years as chairman of the fed. He’s an Ayn Rand acolyte.

Scott

February 26th, 2010
9:51 am

Keep up the good fight,
Why is it just the Reps that need to stop playing politics? The Dems had a SUPERMAJORITY and could have passed it without the Reps. They didn’t get it done. Perhaps you should look at them first. Maybe there is an actual reason that this didn’t pass. Maybe it is because they are listening to their constituents that do not want this garbage. Maybe, just maybe they realized that most Americans are more scared of the government than they are of the health insurance companies.

Also, were you this equally enraged when the Dems played politics throughout the entire Bush admin? Of course you weren’t.

Scott

February 26th, 2010
9:53 am

Here is a question for everybody………. If this pc of legislation is so great and is going to help everybody out and will make service that much better, how come the people that are putting it together have not come and said they would join? Nobody has ever been able to explain this one to me.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 26th, 2010
9:53 am

There are areas within healthcare reform where reasonable minds agree. Republicans urge passing only those areas. Democrats insist that, for every reasonable change they accept, that Republicans must accept an unreasonable one. Call it “government by extortion.”

I think the Republicans are acting responsibly by refusing to yield to any bad ideas. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.

I hope our genial hostess did not draft such a ludicrous title for today’s essay; surely there is no better example of a false choice. Responsible conservatives, which include many republicans, favor eliminating government barriers to free competition, which would be the best sort of insurance reform. Responsible conservatives, which include many republicans, favor abolition of the tort of “medical malpractice” as the surest way to reduce costs in the industry; the better alternative is competent administration of the licensing process.

Mr. Nobody

February 26th, 2010
9:55 am

Ram it through…Obama needs this political victory to show all of his clueless- ignorant supporters what “Daddy Obama” has done for them. If the Dems want health insurance for all of the uninsured then ALL registered democrats should pay for it out of pocket. I am truly in favor of relocating Obama and all of his supporters to the state of California…there they can do as they please, turn the state into Europe, pass their own legislation without any opposition …it would be a win-win!!! Then the let the rest of us live our normal lives without Liberals…

Keep up the good fight!

February 26th, 2010
9:56 am

Scott, again you claim these special deals but provide no evidence.

Yes, spending $1 trillion makes sense when it ultimately pays for itself and saves more than taking no action. And if the Repubs had a better plan other than talking points, strange that they have not proposed it.

The bill is not just to revamp the system to save on some inefficiencies, it is a combination of many proposals and ideas that were made over the past 50 years and have been bantered around for years. This is not just pulled out of the air. And the Repubs can only stomp and cry like a babies “No No No.” Its not a perfect bill and Obama and others will throw out some of the special deals which were made because the Repubs are marching lockstep together into NO and oblivion. But looks like the fixes to the bill will be made in reconciliation….

But of course the real issue here is Lets govern by Majority Vote…..this bill would be better if the Repubs would say we will permit the majority to decide. They can vote no if they want but the American people would be served.