Monday, December 07, 2009

Medicare Buy-In Gaining Traction in Public Option Negotiations?

From mcjoan here.

There's a new wrinkle in the public option negotiations that IS very encouraging. Ezra:

Sources who have been briefed on the negotiations say that Medicare buy-in is attracting the most interest. Expanding Medicaid is running into more problems, though there's some appeal because, unlike increasing subsidies, expanding Medicaid actually saves you money. There's also ongoing discussion about tightening regulations on insurers, but I don't know the precise menu of options being considered.

Sam Stein adds:

The proposal would lower the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 55, though an age limit of 60 has also been suggested. Crucial details -- such as the timing of the implementation of such a reform -- were not provided due to the sensitivity and ongoing nature of the deliberations. A high-ranking Democratic source off the Hill confirmed that such discussions are taking place.

Lowering the floor for Medicare is one of several ideas being discussed as a way to pacify progressives upset over the potential elimination of a public option for insurance coverage, one of the sources added. Senate Democrats held discussions this past weekend about replacing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's version of a public plan with one that would be non-profit-based. The alternative proposal would be offered in state exchanges, run by private insurers but monitored by the Office of Personnel Management.

That's actually pretty significant, given that about 10 percent of the population is aged 55-64, so something like 30 million people would be put into a public option. Many progressives have been arguing for years that Medicare expansion is the smartest, most efficient way to start expanding coverage. It would also provide real impetus for the Congress to deal with Medicare solvency in an honest way, not through the prism of "entitlement reform" meant to erode the program, and to put it on a solid funding track.

Would this be an acceptable substitute for a real public option? It doesn't reform the healthcare system by providing real competition to private insurers. But it would provide a model to grow on, bringing with it the possibility of eventually getting to Medicare for all, the model that many progressives have been advocating for years. Incremental? Yes, but whatever we're going to get out of this Congress will be just that. At any rate, it's good to see an actual progressive policy in the mix in these negotiations.

Big Tent Democrat wrote this tonight:

You know what? Ezra Klein had a good day today. On his blog and on Olbermann. Frank. On point. And good analysis. Keep it up Ezra. Imo of course.

(I watched Ezra Klein's interview on Olbermann earlier.) One commenter to BTD's post wrote this:

Remember how we used to joke about (none / 0) (#7)
by oculus on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:07:36 PM EST

another person inhabiting Josh Marshall's persona? Anyone think that may have happened to BTD after FL lost to AL? Complimenting Ezra. What the . . . .

See here too. And then there's this:

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