Your morning jolt: GOP undecided on whether co-ops are evil

So if the air has leaked from a government-run health insurance program to compete with private companies and bring costs down, what about these insurance cooperatives?

Clearly there’s no cohesive Republican game plan yet. On Monday, in a Fox News conversation with Sean Hannity, Ralph Reed dismissed insurance co-ops as a Trojan horse just as evil as its predecessor:

”The co-op they’re talking about will be heavily subsidized by the federal government and initial subsidy of $3 million — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg because they’re always wrong on their projections.

“Remember the public option, the government run plan masquerading as a co-op will be subsidized with our tax dollars and that will lead to substandard care across the board and be a major problem.”

But in conversations with Atlanta reporters on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss didn’t sound so sure. Here’s an excerpt posted by Denis O’Hayer on the Web site for WABE (90.1FM):

”I think the idea of a cooperative is intriguing and I think has possibilities. It’s obviously the structure of the co-op that would be important. We want to make sure it’s not a back door into a government plan.

“But, you know, we have a number of co-ops in agriculture. We have a number of co-ops in other industries today that work very well. And they’re owned by the people that participate in them.”

Chambliss was asked what Democrats and Republicans might have to give up to reach a compromise. Democrats would have to give up on the public option, which the Georgia senator said won’t have traction in the Senate.

But Republicans, he said, might have to give on the issue of employer-mandated health insurance. “Hopefully we can look at all of these issues and come to some reasonable, medium compromise,” Chambliss said.

On Tuesday, we told you of a Web site established with the object of persuading state Democratic Chairman Jane Kidd into the race for U.S. Senate, against Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson.

In an e-mail, her spokesman, Martin Matheny, said there’s nothing to it:

Absolutely not happening. The whole “draft Jane” thing was an independent idea, and when she was contacted by the organizer about it, she asked him not to pursue it. She’s not interested, not running, and totally focused on her work rebuilding the Democratic Party.

House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin told Columbia County officials Tuesday that a special session of the Legislature was needed to make more substantial cuts to cope with a $900 million shortfall in state revenue. At the same time, Harbin hinted that it probably won’t happen.

This from the Augusta Chronicle:

“We need to go in and end programs we don’t need, and the only way we can do that is with a legislative session,” Mr. Harbin said. Though enough support exists in the House to convene a special session, he said too many senators are resistant to the idea.

The city of Atlanta is scrambling to find a way to spend $30 million in grant money — or else send it back to Washington at the end of this year.

My AJC colleague D.L. Bennett says officials are toying with the idea of just sticking the cash in a credit union. Whether or not that works, Councilman C.T. Martin expressed the pressure that City Hall was under:

“People can read,” Martin said. “And they can understand. There’s an election coming up. At some point people are going to question the competence of the government.”

On that topic, InsiderAdvantage is reporting the results of a new poll this morning on the Atlanta mayoral race. According to IA, the poll:

….showed City Council Member Mary Norwood continuing to lead the race, with 30% saying they would vote for Norwood. But statistically tied with Norwood was City Council President Lisa Borders with 28%.
Lagging behind the two women were state Sen. Kasim Reed with 8% and attorney Jesse Spikes with 2%. The rest said they were undecided.

Cross tabs will be offered up later today. The MOE on the survey was 5 percentage points.

In a few minutes, the House Transportation Committee will hold a first meeting to approve Todd Long for his appointment to the position of director of planning at the state Department of Transportation. No fireworks are expected.

While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:

  • The tug-of-war over state School Superintendent Kathy Cox’s million-dollar winnings.
  • Another month at the state DOT, another stinging agency review. Or three.
  • State Ethics Commission head quits.
  • Young endorsement a coup for Kasim Reed ’s mayoral bid.
  • Crime in unincorporated Gwinnett on decline.
  • Veteran Gwinnett County commissioner won’t seek re-election.
  • Home Depot second-quarter profit beats expectations.
  • Some opinion:

  • Your Luckovich fix.
  • Cynthia Tucker on the return of the vast rightwing conspiracy.
  • Bob Barr expounds on booting the homeless from the Big Apple.
  • Chip Pearson wants to expand water storage options.
  • From elsewhere in Georgia

  • Macon Telegraph: Water rights, health care among topics at annual congressional luncheon.
  • And beyond:

  • WP: White House officials acknowledge surprise at intraparty rift over health insurance.
  • NYT: A conservative’s road to same-sex marriage advocacy.
  • Politico: Lobbyists sent 13 fake letters to Hill in opposition to climate bill.
  • For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

    26 comments Add your comment

    reservoirDAWG

    August 19th, 2009
    9:58 am

    ” At some point people are going to question the competence of the government.” Wow, I just shot coffee out of my nose.

    BigJake

    August 19th, 2009
    10:02 am

    Rep. Barney Frank labeled comments during his town hall meeting on health care reform as, “vile, contemptible nonsense”, which I think is quite appropriate, since I think the liberals attempts to have government-subsidized health care is vile, contemptible nonsense! It is socialism at its core, and has failed everywhere it has been tried. The founding fathers must be spinning in their graves. As we say down here, this isn’t what the govern meant!

    Get Real

    August 19th, 2009
    10:02 am

    If Republicans hate government so much, why do they want to be in charge of it?

    Glenn

    August 19th, 2009
    10:10 am

    Didn’t Blue Cross / Blue Shield start as a co-op ? Could a co-op really do anything to bring down costs? I think if a public option isn’t presented a plan involving insurance should just be entirely eliminated . There are co-ops in agriculture ? There are also big subsidies in agriculture . I bet he has no problem eating corn . Profit & greed will destroy anykind of real reform . Nothing but a dog & pony show .

    HDB

    August 19th, 2009
    10:19 am

    Having used a medical co-op in Minnesota, the quality of care is comparable to those of private insurance…but portability is questionable. BCBS can be used worldwide…whereas co-ops are restricted usage in a particular area. What IS needed is UNIVERSAL coverage with international flexibility…i.e., national coverage with BCBS international capability!!

    Sissy Saxby

    August 19th, 2009
    10:24 am

    If Obama is for it, Sissy Saxby will vote NO. Just keep the status quo, the insurance companies are doing a great job.

    reservoirDAWG

    August 19th, 2009
    10:38 am

    Hey Big Jake, how many times did Barney slobber when he said ” vile, contemptible, nonsense”?

    Hypocrites Stand Down

    August 19th, 2009
    10:40 am

    Big Jake Wrote: “It is socialism at its core, and has failed everywhere it has been tried.” My question is Where? I keep hearing people opposed to Universal or Public Option Health Care Reform, but they never say where it has been a failure, and cite any verifiable source for this statement. I have not seen any information that shows this to be true, but here is a vast amount out there that states the opposite. It works all over the world, in every industrialized nation that has it, and no two programs are the same. Why can’t we do it in the US? It is sad that we brag about being the Best country in the world, but can’t provide basic health care for our people and if they get sick, covered or not, face severe if not devastating consequences including bankruptcy. How does that count for “best” under any scenario?

    howard

    August 19th, 2009
    11:07 am

    The party of NO continues its obstructive politics by protecting big insurance interests at the expense of the public interests. The GOP has no real interest in bipartisanship as they fear that would help Obama succeed and why would they want that…after all, he’s a Democrat. Like Nixon before these wannabes, present day GOP leaders (sic) have lost their moral compass.

    Citizen of the World

    August 19th, 2009
    11:08 am

    “The air has leaked from a government-run health insurance program” only from the perspective of those who oppose any and all things government (the Republican base) and the bought-and-paid-for Blue Dems.

    For many other Americans and a strong contingent of Democratic legislators, anything less than a public option is a betrayal of the public trust that this will be health reform with some teeth in it.

    Why should we mandate that everyone must have insurance and then not provide them with a viable non-profit option? Why should I be forced to pay my premiums to a company that will only turn around and pay its CEO tens of millions of dollars a year in compensation? Why should I be forced to pay my premiums to a company that will only turn around and pay lobbyists to go to Washington and strong-arm my legislators into voting down any progressive reforms? Why should I be forced to pay my premiums to a company who will only turn around and find every way possible to deny my claim?

    If we do not have a public option, but insurance coverage is mandated, then there should be some strong government control over just how these premiums are spent to make sure policy holders are protected from wasteful, unscrupulous practices.

    So either way you look at it, then, the government is going to have to set some rules and boundaries on the runaway abuses of the insurance industry.

    Mitzymy

    August 19th, 2009
    11:14 am

    We really need health care reform, but we shouldn’t listen to Hannity, Rush, or Beck, if we want the truth. They are saying that the south is a breeding ground for their kind of rhetoric based on racist views, and will never agree to anything that Obama puts forth, good or bad. There are people who don’t even go to the doctor for serious things because they don’t have insurance. Just think of how many people died who could be alive today if they could afford to have health coverage. This country has been trying to reform health coverage for the past 40 years. That is a long time to have nothing cleared by now. Why are the repulicans fighting against it? Is it because that the insurance companies give most of them millions of dollars to keep them in office. Vote them out so that we can make progress in this country. We need to overhaul our insurance so that everyone will be covered.

    Mitzymy

    August 19th, 2009
    11:24 am

    The co-op that the republicans are trying to introduce into the new health care bill, is worthless. It will not bring down the cost of insurance, and cannot compete with the insurance companies. We will be right where we are today. Concerning the “end of life” consultations, my mother died and after she had her stroke, the doctor came to us with this decision on what we wanted to do. She could no longer talk, but I would have liked to know what she wanted before she came to that point. There is nothing wrong with talking to seniors about what they want done. Fortunately, years before she got sick, she had told me that she was ready to go, and that she had had a good life, but she was tired. She had sent us a copy of an insurance policy that paid entirely for her funeral, and had consulted with the funeral director on her arrangements.

    Audrey in Georgia

    August 19th, 2009
    11:58 am

    A public option and insurance cooperatives should be a part of the health care reform. We
    need to try to do everything possible to bring the cost of health insurance down now. Do
    both of them.

    boots

    August 19th, 2009
    12:08 pm

    With no ideas to offer, other than the failed strategies of the past, the GOP has one tactic: disrupt, distort and disinform.

    And, as long as ignorant people will rally around this black hole of negativism, they’ll keep shouting people down and playing on the fears of those who don’t know any better. Bless their hearts.

    mike

    August 19th, 2009
    12:23 pm

    Way to put words in people’s mouths Jim. Nobody you cite called the public-option “evil” as you claim.

    Now Harry Reid (the Senate Majority leader, not a pundit) did actually call those who oppose the public option “evil monger”. I notice that you neglect that. It’s not surprising as your views lean to the same partisan extremes as Tucker, Bookman and Luckovich.

    David S

    August 19th, 2009
    12:24 pm

    By what constitutional authority does the Federal Government have the right to intervene in healthcare AT ALL???????

    The fundamental problem with both the democrats and the republicans (Ron Paul excepted) is that they have no consitutional principles and no moral principles to make decisions from. Of course these co-ops are a bad idea, just like HMOs were a bad idea when CONGRESS created them in the 70s. The free market (if it were actually restored) would decide quite remarkably and wonderfully, just what best served the marketplace. Best of all, it would do it in such a myriad of ways that everyone would be best served by businesses.

    Nothing like the free market is being proposed by anyone. Instead, it is either the fascist way or the socialist way or the current fully screwed up way where the consumer is the victim and the friends of washington are the kings.

    mike

    August 19th, 2009
    12:25 pm

    “as long as ignorant people will rally around this black hole of negativism”

    Yes, people should be positive and debate the facts like you. Your hypocrisy is laughable.

    boots

    August 19th, 2009
    12:32 pm

    Nazis. . . Hitler. . . Socialists. . .Death Panel Grandma Killers. . . Libruls. . . It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Sounds like school yard name calling, not the language of a political party.

    One thing is for certain: healthcare costs are escalating at an unsustainable rate. The GOP should get together and come up with an alternative plan, not just criticize what the President has proposed.

    But, in the absence of a better plan, shut up with the name-calling! It makes you look silly.

    boots

    August 19th, 2009
    1:17 pm

    Many of the anti-healthcare reform ads seen on TV are sponsored by an organization headed by one of the founders of Columbia Healthcare/Hospital Company, a company that wa.s fined an unbelieveable $631 million dollars of Medicare/Medicaide fraud.

    It helps to know who’s opposing healthcare reform and spending millions of dollars to see that it doesn’t happen.

    oldtimer

    August 19th, 2009
    1:27 pm

    Whatever they call it, it is the first step to nationalized healthcare….We will have the same care as the Canadians who come south for care and the Brits who now ration certain procedures. There will be no more incentative to develope newer procedures or medicines.

    reservoirDAWG

    August 19th, 2009
    1:53 pm

    It is a good thing Obama will be a one term president.

    Josh

    August 19th, 2009
    1:59 pm

    People who think healthcare needs to be addressed and want help making an objective assessment of these proposals need to look an true independent groups. The GOP and the DNC shouldn’t be listened to even as a last resort. The GOP isn’t just spinning, they’re intentionally poisoning the entire process.

    Captain

    August 19th, 2009
    2:12 pm

    Let’s see where to begin? Socialized Medicine is a failure in Britain and CAnada, you would know that unless you’ve been living under a rock. It isn’t much better in France where hospitals are closing.

    Co-ops? No way. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were co-ops and we know how the Dems influenced and ultimately ruined them by forcing loans for political votes. By the way, has anyone found out when Franklin Raines will be testifying about his part in their demise and how it is he earned a $100 million bonus for bankrupting Fannie? Oh that’s right, Franklin was an adviser to Obama and an appointee of Clinton. No harm no foul? Co-ops are little more than Govt programs at a short arm length and like Fannie and Freddie, will be bailed out by the taxpayers and run by the Fed Govt. I say NO WAY.

    What about TORT REFORM? Why isn’t it on the table? Could it be that 97% fo contributions by Trial Attys in the last election went to Dems? Hmmmm, isn’t Obama an Atty? Isn’t Ms Obama an atty? Isn’t Dickie Durbin an atty? Isn’t Chrissy Dodd an atty? Isn’t Harry Reid an atty? Isn’t Chuckie Schumer an atty? Isn’t the haughty wind surfer John Kerry an atty? Isn’t Sen Depends Patrick Leahy an atty? Isn’t VP Biden an atty? Are you getting the picture here folks?

    As for TV ads being supported by Health Insurance companies, why is that such a sin? Unions are supporting the Obama and Dem initiative to socialize 1/6 of the economy. Trial Attys are working overtime to thwart Tort Reform. MoveOn.org is supporting the attempt to socialize medical care. For every 1 dollar fighing the cause there are 5 supporting it. Where is the indignation at SEIU pledging $10 million to the White HOuse to support socialized medicine? Where is the outrage at ACORN for Busing in protestors at Town Hall meetings?

    Why would anyone with an ounce of intelligence want the Federal Government running medial care? The same government that runs the Postal Service which loses on average $3 Billion per year, the same government that runs AmTrak which loses millions; the same Government that has bankrupt Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the same Government that has misplaced at least $1 billion in New Orleans; the same Federal Government that cannot reimburse Auto Dealers $4,500 for each clunker? Can anyone imagine how wonderful the customer service would be with a Federal employee on the other end of the phone? Think, the efficiency of Social Security, AmTrak, Cars for Clunkers with the same warm and fuzzy friendly service of the IRS!!!

    You think an HMO is bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. At least with the HMO you can sue, report them for investigation by state regulators. Tell me, who is going to do anything about inefficiency and poor service from a Government run medical system? Would that be the same people who help with the Social Security system, finding lost mail by the Postal Serv, locating the money sent to New Orleans, or the ones who are so helpful and friendly at the IRS? Those elected officials who ask you to “trust them” yet when the time comes for help they can’t help?

    It isn’t about the delivery of Health services to the people of this nation, oh politicans will tell you that and some may believe it, the truth is it is about control. Why else does the House Bill call for all of your personal financial information? Hmmmmmmm?

    glenn

    August 19th, 2009
    2:15 pm

    Oldtimer , how old are you ? As an investor of a couple of healthcare providers I don’t know if I like the idea of you being on one of our policies . Shouldn’t you be on medicaid ? Its nationalized and I’m sure they will take great care of you .

    Citizen of the World

    August 19th, 2009
    2:20 pm

    Oldtimer @1:27, judging by your moniker, you’re eligible for Medicare, which was also considered to be a “first step to socialized medicine” when it was enacted in the 60s. Considering that in the intervening years, we still haven’t been able to overcome the powerful insurance interests to achieve a public option or co-op, you’ll be long gone by the time we get sure-enough socialized medicine.

    It will come one day, though, or else it won’t even matter because the United States economy will have sunk under the weight of its own unsustainable health care costs on the one hand, and unhealthy population on the other.

    Jerry Douglas

    August 20th, 2009
    1:14 pm

    At least the argument against insurance coops gets to the heart of the opposition to ANY reform: protecting the profits of the insurance corporations. With the government sponsored OPTION, they have been able to hide behind such B.S. as “socialism”. Now we see the truth of the opposition. It is beginning to look like we’re going to stay with what we have, so let’s all chant “We’re Number 37″ (among the world’s nations in health care provision).