Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Get Gov’t Away From Health Care and Leave My Medicare Alone!

Posted by Eric on June 11, 2009

517-43It’s almost certain that we are going to get some form of health care reform this year. The Obama budget triggers health care reform to automatically move to the reconciliation process if it doesn’t get passed by summer. So if the Republicans and centrist Democrats filibuster or squash health care reform, the budget reconciliation process allows legislation to get passed with only 50 votes (rather than the 60 necessary to end a filibuster).

Of course insurance companies, BigPharma, free marketers, and just about anyone with entrenched interest in the current broken health care system will mobilize to water down reform as much as they can. One of the first steps will be to try to turn public attitudes against “government intervention” into care. You know, stopping big government from interfering with the “doctor-patient relationship” and making sure that “hospitals aren’t being run like DMV.” Considering that the American health care system is very badly broken and knowing that popular president Barack Obama won a landslide election campaigning (in part) on fixing health care, you’d think the public would be in pretty fervent agreement with the president’s positions. Right?

Not exactly. According to Pew’s recent survey, public opinion about health care reform is decidedly mixed. While 86% of people told researchers they thought “the government needs to do more to make health care affordable and accessible,” 46% answered (see the table on the right) that they were “concerned that the government is becoming too involved in health care.” In other words, a significant number of people really have no clue what they think.

What’s pretty striking is, when broken down by age, the only segment of the population in which a majority fears the government is becoming too involved in health care is the over 65 crowd. This hit me as pretty weird since most of these old people are on Medicare and old people love their Medicare! Or so I thought. But maybe these folks have to deal with government-sponsored health care and know first hand of the evils that a governmental insurance plan holds. So I looked up the numbers and decided to bake up this delicious pie chart:

Medicare Satisfaction Chart

Medicare Satisfaction Chart

As you can see, old people really do like their Medicare. So where are their worries coming from? Are they scared this will somehow negatively impact their Medicare? Do they just not want others to have the wonderful services they do? Are they confused?

If anyone has any ideas, fill me in, because this doesn’t make any sense.

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3 Responses to “Get Gov’t Away From Health Care and Leave My Medicare Alone!”

  1. Packherd said

    No one ever said the Hometown Buffet crowd was inherently reasonable. And, if they’re Californians, they’re even more schizo.

    But here I’ll stick to what I know: Senate strategy.

    While it’s true that health care reform has been included in the budget reconciliation, that fact is probably meant more as a whipping tool than an actual vote strategy. That is, any reform that passes with 51-49 support in the Senate would be unacceptable and would probably not make it past the moderates in the House.

    Instead, the budget reconciliation reduces the threat of a filibuster. Not entirely, of course, since procedural motions can be filibustered, too. That is almost always what the Senate is voting on: cloture to end debate on the motion to bring the bill to the floor. But the fact that the final bill could be passed with less than 60 votes puts the Minority in a pickle.

    Or, at least it did.

    When Specter flipped, he altered the overall approach to floor strategy for the Democratic leadership. Previously, the Democrats enjoyed a ‘theoretical’ 59-41 advantage. (Theoretical, because it’s still uncertain when Franken will be finally seated and Kennedy and Byrd are unavailable for all but the most dire situations.) This meant that, all other factors being equal, the game was about finding one of 49 Republican Senators to step out of the way on a particular issue. Specter, Snowe, and Collins were, of course, going to be targets on every vote. The Republican leadership had the Sisyphean task of keeping those three in line, plus any other troublemakers such as McCain, Ensign, Lugar, Voinovich, or Bill Nelson.

    That situation is now reversed. The Democrats must keep themselves entirely united, or the given measure goes down in filibuster flames. Not only are there even more Senators to keep in line, they include such moderate malcontents as Ben Nelson, Jim Webb, Evan Bayh, Diane Feinstein, and Russ Feingold.

    Basically, Specter’s flip changed which list of Senators will be harassed by leadership, and he changed that list from Republicans to Democrats.

    I think Baucus is the key. If he’s happy, there will be enough moderates and liberals on either side of him to get to almost-cloture. Ben Nelson may be a lost cause but, thanks to budget reconciliation, that won’t matter.

    Obama 1 – Senate 0

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  3. It is quite disheartening to know that public has a mixed opinion about new healthcare reforms or that of Obamacare. There must be consensus before enacting the new reforms and the government should see that poor have a better access to quality healthcare.

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