Insurers Play Ball With White House
NYT on major health care announcement today: “Doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies will join President Obama on Monday in announcing their commitment to a sharp reduction in the growth of national health spending, White House officials said Sunday. The officials said the plan could save $2,500 a year for a family of four in the fifth year and a total of $2 trillion for the nation over 10 years. That could make it less expensive for Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance coverage, a daunting challenge facing the Obama administration.”
LA Times on White House reaction: “On Sunday, administration officials were quick to hail the letter, calling it a ‘game changer’ that illustrated the momentum behind the president’s healthcare campaign,”
Time’s Karen Tumulty sees ulterioir motive from insurers: “Heading off a public plan is what is implicit in this gesture the health industry is making this morning.”
Joe Paduda is harsh: “This is pure PR, nothing but bald-faced political posturing by a bunch of scaredy-cats terrified that someone will finally hold them accountable.”
NYT’s Paul Krugman stresses positive: “I would strongly urge the Obama administration to hang tough in the bargaining ahead. In particular, [the insurance lobby] will surely try to use the good will created by its stance on cost control to kill an important part of health reform: giving Americans the choice of buying into a public insurance plan as an alternative to private insurers. The administration should not give in on this point. But let me not be too negative. The fact that the medical-industrial complex is trying to shape health care reform rather than block it is a tremendously good omen.”
The Treatment’s Jonathan Cohn makes the case for optimism: “Maybe some of them already oppose reform, but are using this as a way to buy good will. Fine, fine. It really doesn’t matter. The mere sight of these groups standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Obama will give reform additional political momentum, driving an even bigger wedge between health industry groups and their erstwhile allies in the conservative movement … The event will also give lawmakers in Congress political cover for proposing bolder changes to the payment and delivery systems–the kind that might make reform seem more affordable, at least in the eyes of the all-important Congressional Budget Office … Last but certainly not least, this appearance buys time. Every day that these groups are saying positive things about reform in public is day they’re not saying nasty things about reform in public.”
Marc Ambinder analyzes this means reform will happen soon: “This is big — and I’m not talking about the news. I’m talking about the dealmaking between unions, corporations, the health insurance companies and hospitals. And there all going to be at the White House tomorrow. What’s the bottom line political significance of all of this: it means that the White House is gonna get health care reform, this year.”
Change.org’s Tim Foley wants more details.
AP: “Senators are considering three different designs for a new government health-insurance plan that middle-income Americans could buy into for the first time … The three approaches being discussed are: Create a plan that resembles Medicare, administered by the Health and Human Services department[,] Adopt a Medicare-like plan, but pick an outside party to run it. That way government officials would not directly control the day-to-day operations [or] Leave it up to individual states to set up a public insurance plan for their residents.”
Climate Progress’ Joe Romm is learning to love the compromises in the House Dem clean energy & climate protection bill.
CQ reports while House energy cmte struggles to find consensus, so is the Ways & Means cmte: “committee Democrats are dividing into disparate groups, identified by their desire to tilt the proposal toward utilities, toward energy efficiency or toward consumers. There is general agreement on using most of the money raised from an auction of carbon-emission allowances to cushion consumers against price increases, but members are still debating how to slice the overall pie.”
TNR’s Brad Plumer reacts to Duke Energy quitting conservative front group National Assoc. of Manufacturers over climate bill: “…we’re not seeing businesses line up monolithically against mandatory curbs on greenhouse-gas emissions … though, it’s worth noting that [in 1994] you also saw a slew of business groups … initially back Bill Clinton’s [health care] goals … But as the months creeped on and details about Clinton’s plan emerged, most of those groups switched sides, and the reform-loving remnant found itself overwhelmed … So it’s much too early to say which side will win this fight.”
NYT plays up Chinese advancements in reducing emissions from coal plants but notes it’s unknown “how fast will it move toward power plants that capture their emissions and store them underground or under the seafloor?”
CQ reports full Senate takes up credit card reform today but: “It remains to be seen how much of the language from a bill (S 414) that Dodd narrowly pushed through his committee will make it into the final agreement.” (NYT plays up credit card industry woes as recession socks cardholders.)
Direct student lending looks probable as Sallie Mae switches sides reports W. Post.
West coast officials planning high-speed rail corridor from San Diego to Vancouver, Canada.
Terrance Heath contributed to the making of this Breakfast