The more I've been reading about the proposed Snowe trigger that the White House is in favor of for the public option, the more disgusted I become. It's nothing more than a sham, and it's a huge giveaway to private insurers. We all know that with a "trigger" on the public option, that it'll never get off the ground because private insurers will try all kinds of games to make sure the public option is killed, just like what they did with the trigger on Medicare Part D plans.
The trigger, if set off, would have allowed the government to offer their own drug prescription plan in any market that was dominated by fewer than two prescription plans. Private insurers and pharmaceutical companies made sure that trigger was never set off.
And the information about the Snowe trigger and what the White House considers to be affordable insurance for us is an utter crock of shit. Please read more below the jump for the full details on the Snowe "trigger" on the public option:
Under Ms. Snowe’s proposal, a new government corporation would offer health insurance in any states where affordable coverage was not readily and widely available from private insurers. The corporation would not be part of the Department of Health and Human Services, although federal officials would serve on its board.
The public insurance plan would be offered in any state where fewer than 95 percent of the residents had access to affordable coverage.
Congress would define “affordable” with a sliding scale based on income. Under a proposal being considered by the Finance Committee, Medicaid would be extended to anyone with income less than 133 percent of the poverty level ($29,327 for a family of four).
For people with incomes just above that level, insurance would be considered affordable if they could find a policy with premiums equal to no more than, say, 3 percent or 4 percent of their income. For people with incomes exceeding three times the poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four), insurance might be deemed unaffordable if the premiums were more than, say, 12.5 percent to 15 percent of their income.
It's bad that the corporation wouldn't be a part of the Department of Health and Human Services because we need administration to remain within the agency such as rule-making authority, benefit guideline setting, and audit authority to remain in full control by the government. If you outsource all of these administrative details to a "corporation," it leaves the administrative details in a place where we wouldn't have access to public information on the rules being proposed by the corporation, and allows undue influence from lobbyists to game the system.
Snowe's trigger requires private insurers to cover 95% of residents on a state market. If private insurers doesn't cover up to that percentage of the population in a state, then the "public corporation" kicks in with their insurance coverage. That's the trigger that the White House is in favor of according to officials within the White House that have called themselves "snowe-ites," as fans of the Senator.
And as for what the White House and Snowe considers to be affordable for middle-class families, it's an utter crock of shit. For instance, if a family of four on that $66,150 salary were unable to afford an annual insurance policy of $9922.5, premiums that cost $826.87 a month, at that 15% mark, then the insurance would be deemed unaffordable for them.
This is nothing more than a giveaway to private insurers where they get a guaranteed payment of $826.87 a month on the backs of American middle-class families! It's disgusting and shameless.
More to the point, if our metrics are "affordable and competitive", that means next to nothing, and all parties involved know it. All the insurance industry has to do in order to dodge the affordable trigger entirely is to offer up more of the current "junk" plans that are relatively inexpensive, but don't cover anything when you actually need them: plans with $20k, $50k deductables and the like. That's exactly what they're doing now, since they've priced more effective insurance entirely out of the hands of millions of people. As long as it's "affordable" -- and a plan that covers nothing can be pretty affordable, compared to plans that actually provide healthcare coverage when you need it -- and "competitive" -- within the industry itself, with no outside public pressures on containing costs -- they're home free. Making the plan state-by-state? Again, a way to carve out what counts as "competitive" on a per-state basis, and a way to avoid regulation across the country even as individual states continued to be sucked dry.
Here's what I want you guys to do today in addition to our research on these five members of Congress below:
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Rep. Betty McCollum
Rep. Stephen F. Lynch
Rep. Dan Lipinski
Rep. Bobby Scott
Let them know that the Snowe trigger and her plan is UNACCEPTABLE for you! You didn't work to elect a Democrat to the White House, volunteer for an overwhelming majority in the House and Senate, just so that a lone Republican in the Senate can write the most important health care legislation.
We need to keep up with our research on these five members, and I have more information on the five members of Congress that we did research on yesterday:
- Rep. Sander Levin has taken $35,500 from PACs representing private insurers and $20,500 from PACs representing health professionals and hospitals. He's also taken individual donations from lobbyists representing private insurers, pharmaceuticals, and medical-device makers.
- Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee hasn't taken any PAC contributions or individual donations from lobbyists, which is good.
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren has taken over $48,000 from PACs that represent pharmaceutical companies, which are opposed to a Medicare drug price negotiation. However, she's taken individual donations from lobbyists representing the worst insurers such as AHIP, Aetna, and Humana. One of these lobbyists is David R. Thomas, who was her former chief of staff, and he happily represents AHIP as one of their top lobbyists in D.C.
- Rep. Louise Slaughter hasn't taken any money from PACs, which is good for her. However, she has taken a few donations from lobbyists representing insurers, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals.
- Rep. Ed Pastor has taken PAC donations primarily from the aviation and defense industry, so no red flags there. And he's taken very few donations from lobbyists that represent the aviation and defense industry.
You can start with the accountability process by researching their FEC contributions, how much they have on OpenSecrets, who's hosted political fundraisers for them, and the individual donations from lobbyists on behalf of firms that represent the worst insurers: AHIP, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealth.
After doing research, we'll know who's taken the most money from special interests, and who should be rightly held accountable by us. That's what the accountability process is about, and it's democracy in action. This is one of the "stick" parts of our carrot and sticks program at FDL.
And here's how the stick part is going to be carried out after we choose the most compromised Democrat out of these 55 Democrats who "professes" support for the public option but won't take a firm stand for it in the final bill:
- A dedicated landing page collecting all of the crowd sourced information about their relationships with lobbyists and their voting history
- Educational live calls [no robocalls] into every Democratic household in the district letting them know the member won't take a stand to defend the public option
- Post cards to every Democratic home in the district, directing them to the website and letting them know the member's history with lobbying interests
- An automated call-in number for people who can't login to the website
If you want to see more stuff like this, then please help support our work (since we do literally work for you guys) by donating to our fund at Firedoglake! Your donations go to our living stipends, expenses, and travel costs, including awesome tools like these.
Now, let's keep holding our elected officials accountable for the public option as a required component of the FINAL bill!
Please RECOMMEND this diary to hold our elected officials accountable on the public option as the line in the sand!
Please vote on the five Democrats that we did research on yesterday: