Senator Charles Schumer / National Healthcare
Schumer emerged earlier this year as a vocal proponent of the public option and offered a model for the plan that he positioned as a compromise itself. Under Schumer's proposal, which closely resembles what the House and the HELP Committee are considering, the public option would receive no federal funding, be financed entirely by premiums and have to abide by the same insurance regulations as private firms.
Here is Senator Charles Schumer's exact words:
" In 94 percent of the markets, according to the Justice Department, health insurance is highly concentrated. So without a public option, you're going to have no competition. And the public is going to be forced -- you know, they don't like the insurance companies simply raising prices and raising prices and cutting back on coverage and cutting back on coverage. I am not saying that the public option should be the only option. There are some who do say that, particularly in my party. But we shouldn't say there should be no public option. We should have this insurance exchange and let both sides compete. And let's see which one does better. Each one claims to have advantages. I think both will exist in the market. A public option may be better for some. A private insurance company may be better for others."
And again, in a press conference following the initial statement :
"There will be a public option in the final bill, some form of it. And hopefully Chuck Grassley and I and others can come to an agreement on how that should work. We want it to be a fair, level playing field, but you need something the big boys honest. And the only thing that really is out there is a public option. We don't trust the private insurance companies left to their own devices and neither do the American people. Seventy percent of the American people support a public option."
The public option is a leader to the inception of National and a chance for the United States to make a perfect veronica to the problem of smart government vs. large government. In a discussion of a similiar system, someone I know pointed out that the post-war national healthcare system Britain installed was there to help people pay for massive debts incurred after the war - and that was a welcome relief.
Charles Schumer is following a coherent strategy. He is pushing forward for the creation of one regulatory body from the patchwork of regulators currently overseeing the billion (with a "B") dollar effort to reform the banking system.
"It does not make sense for up to four different federal regulatory bodies to retain oversight over the safety and soundness of banks and bank holding companies in the United States. Retaining multiple regulatory entities preserves the regulatory arbitrage that allows institutions to pick the oversight scheme that benefits them the most, often at the expense of consumers and the health of the system overall"
This is a coherent strategy to smart government. Inclusion of 'the public option' on the upcoming national heatlhcare reform would present a very similiar set of structures. A General Accounting Office (GAO) that could see Healthcare Expenses in a given city, note which expenses are being incurred , communicate to the FDA and the EPA, who would not only have drug effectiveness gauging realtime but also the net cost of things like rising ozone levels or some sort of other public health issue. The Europeans dump products on our markets when they're banned in Europe because the feedback mechanisms here are so slow - this would change forever with an executed public option. And not only that but have healthcare forms, diagnostic, and CPT codes that actually autofill from healthcare records maintained online?
The alternate strategy that will be proposed is to 'champion free enterprise' in a horribly broken market. Insurance companies in America pay for procedures that no one needed, overbilled care, and the like. The corporate use of private information to send unsolicited mail, telemarket, to in essence profile the american people - will apply to their eventual sequencing of Americans to preclude healthcare in favor of corporate profit. Genetic predisposition to heart trouble? Pay for it with your premium.
I have a small company - and I looked into some options for providing healthcare. One of my employees had a cerebellar edema. The insurance companies profiled her right off the charts. The premium was so high that we chose not to opt for it. This 'free market' option that will be 'championed' by Schumers opponents stands for more of the same - a broken system, with massive over and underbilling of procedures, more Americans falling out of coverage - and especially in the case of one of my employees - lack of preventative care that only means Emergency Room expenses and people landing in the hospital under financial duress.
Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Should the public option be included in the final package - Americans will have a choice to be a part of a larger group - it sounds like a small improvement but to a small business its a huge advantage. Schumer's proposal is innocuous at first glance - but you really have something going here. Watch the Senator from New York.