Friday, December 11, 2009

Is the public option dead? Say it ain't so...

It seems as if the US Congress has been debating healthcare reform for an eternity. Remember last summer when President Obama was hopeful that Congress would get 'er done before the August break? Ha! We'll be lucky if they finish before the Christmas break.

The latest wrangling in the Senate sounds like a good idea, but in the long run, it's probably not. The latest Congressional shell game to avoid a "robust" public option and still make it look as if they are reforming the healthcare non-system is to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55 and all younger folks who are not covered by insurance to buy into the federal system.

A little disclosure here, I am over 55 and buying into Medicare is attractive to me, but in the long term, this move benefits insurance companies more than anyone else. People use more health insurance as they age. By pushing the Baby Boomers-- who are getting older and fatter everyday-- off on the government, insurance companies are left with the "cream of the crop"-- younger, healthier Americans who are less likely to make a claim.

Shifting the cost to care for the people most likely to make a claim to the government will surely break the Medicare bank-- already scheduled to go bankrupt in 2012 (or 2017 depending upon how you crunch the numbers but in any case that's not too far away).

In a recent blog post, former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich says that this latest development will give insurance companies even more control over the current non-system, will do nothing to curb obscene profits, and will do nothing to control costs. It also guarantees that healthcare reform will be revisited in the coming years.

Again, this debate proves that we have the best Congress money can buy.

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