Following reports that President Obama was “actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform,” White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog that “those rumors are absolutely false.” “President Obama completely supports” the Democratic leadership’s efforts, Pfeiffer wrote.
A new report from Thomson Reuters has found that the U.S. health care system wastes up to $800 billion ever year. “The average U.S. hospital spends one-quarter of its budget on billing and administration, nearly twice the average in Canada,” the report notes.
Democrats are discussing ways to speed up key benefits in the health reform bill to 2010, “eager to give the party something to show taxpayers for their $900 billion investment in an election year.” ?We want to be able, within the cost framework and the implementation framework, to have as much start as early as possible, even though we know all of it can?t,? said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Congress and the Obama administration are getting ready to address the issue of banking institutions that are “too big to fail.” A measure that could be introduced this week “would make it easier for the government to seize control of troubled financial institutions, throw out management, wipe out the shareholders and change the terms of existing loans held by the institution.”
Sen. Russ Feingold said Sunday during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he is working with his colleagues to block any increase in U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan. “There will be resistance to [a troop increase] if necessary?We will do what we can to prevent this mistake,” the senator told host Bob Schieffer.
Abdullah Abdullah, the challenger to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, “is considering boycotting the upcoming runoff if his demands are not met to remove the leaders of Afghanistan’s election commission who he believes are biased against him.” An Abdullah pull-out “could create a new political crisis and throw the legitimacy of any new government into question.”
Twin car bombs “devastated three government buildings,” killed at least 160 people, and wounded at least 540 more on Sunday in Baghdad, marking the deadliest attacks in Iraq since 2007. The blows were “aimed at destroying faith in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ability to secure the country as the United States withdraws” ahead of January’s elections.
The Denver Post reports that simply by checking the ?female? box when buying health insurance ?is likely to cost extra ? perhaps up to 50 percent more than a man would pay for the same coverage.? Federal health reform legislation would ban gender-rating and require maternity coverage.
The American Energy Alliance, a corporate-funded front group for Big Oil, is running ads against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) because he has indicated support for clean energy legislation. Graham accused the AEA of lying. “People can say what they want to say,” Graham told McClatchy. “It’s a free country, but they can’t make stuff up.”
And finally: First Lady Michelle Obama went on The Jay Leno Show on Friday, where the host asked her about the President’s annoying habits. “He has no annoying habits, right Jay, none. He’s perfect,” Mrs. Obama said with a laugh. “But you know what, when he beats me in tennis that gets to be pretty annoying, and he beats me quite often.” Leno also asked her to name all the Brady Bunch children in under 10 seconds, which she did in eight.
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Via Raw Story, some news that really isn't such a big deal. Third-party administrators are already a cash cow for the insurance industry, but my guess is that this contract will have a lot of built-in cost controls:
A little-noticed tidbit in Saturday's Washington Post is sure to raise eyebrows among liberal supporters of a gorvernment-run healthcare plan: the plan is likely to be administered by a private insurance company, the very companies that progressive activists are trying to unseat.
The public-option debate is frustrating some Democrats, who have come to believe that a government-run plan is neither as radical as its conservative critics have portrayed, nor as important as its liberal supporters contend. Any public plan is likely to have a relatively narrow scope, as it would be offered only to people who don't have access to coverage through an employer.
The public option would effectively be just another insurance plan offered on the open market. It would likely be administered by a private insurance provider, charging premiums and copayments like any other policy. In an early estimate of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that fewer than 12 million people would buy insurance through the government plan.
The problem with insurance companies isn't the third-party administrators - they simply administer claims decisions on the basis of what the client pays for. (Although their administration fees are so often heavily padded, and the feds will have to watch them closely.) This is commonly done with so-called "self-insured" plans.
This is one of the reasons why it won't happen overnight. Someone's going to have to come up with the oversight structure.
Andrew Cuomo has made the first move, trying to get his potential rivals out of the race before it even begins:
Andrew Cuomo has secretly notified Rudy Giuliani that he will run for governor next year, The Post has learned.
The confidential message, conveyed through intermediaries, was delivered to Giuliani recently and is expected to play a central role in the former mayor's impending decision on whether to run as the Republican candidate for governor in 2010, sources with knowledge of the situation said.
The message confirms the widespread belief that state Attorney General Cuomo intends to challenge unelected Gov. Paterson in a Democratic primary if Paterson decides to run.
It was sent as a courtesy -- Giuliani says he's "friends" with Cuomo -- and as a warning that the former presidential candidate would face a brutal and, according to a dozen recent polls, losing battle against the highly popular attorney general.
Insiders said Cuomo, while convinced he would win, wants to avoid a costly and exhausting campaign against Giuliani, who polls show is popular in the suburbs and upstate but not in New York City.
Insiders predict Cuomo will wait until after the Jan. 15 campaign-contribution filing period to make his announcement, expecting to be so far ahead of Paterson in fund raising that the governor may be forced to drop out of the race.
Monday, October 26, 2009
There are no major economic reports today to drive the equity markets but a handful of earnings reports are likely to keep…
Monday punditry and beginning of the week wisdom. Oh, and the Yankees are in the World Series for the 40th time. Bring on the Phillies.
But the teabaggers have come and gone, as have the cries of "death panels" and the demonstrations by Medicare recipients demanding that the government stay out of health care. And reform is still on track. Right now it looks highly likely that Congress will, indeed, send a health care bill to the president’s desk. Then what?
Democrats and liberals can scoff and try to dismiss such views, but they should realize that adherents hold these attitudes so intensely that they will be determined to vote in 2010, and that in a midterm election in which turnout is inherently lower than in presidential years, the most-motivated voters carry a disproportionate advantage. The intensity that Democrats and liberals had in their opposition to Bush and Republicans in 2006 and 2008 has transferred to conservatives and Republicans.
Democrats would have to set up machine-gun nests to keep these people from voting, while the lethargy among Democratic voters is palpable.
The congressional race in upstate New York’s 23rd District continues to create fascinating divisions in the Republican Party, and the reporting over the weekend in the district highlighted two national Republican figures going different ways.
This is the fight in which the Republican nominee, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, faces not only a Democrat, Bill Owens, but also a third party Conservative candidate. As I reported in my column last week, many national Republicans have abandoned Scozzafava because they see her as too moderate, or even, God forbid, as a liberal. This gives Democrat Owens a chance to win in a district that, in its various configurations, has been Republican since 1871.
Some Democratic candidates running for local office around the country call the phenomenon the "Obama hangover." It is proving tougher to recruit volunteers and get people to vote.
"It's like the morning after the party," Michael McGann, a Democrat running for clerk of courts in the Philadelphia suburbs, said in an interview. "The party was wonderful and exciting. The day after it's like, 'Gee, I don't want to do that again for a while.' "
Dick Cheney has accused Barack Obama of "dithering" over Afghanistan. If the president were to quickly invade a country on the basis of half-baked intelligence, would that demonstrate his courage and decisiveness to Cheney? In fact, it's not a bad idea for Obama to take his time, examine all options and watch how the post-election landscape in Afghanistan evolves.
A poll of opinion polls shows Americans' attitudes are changing rapidly.
They are less and less thrilled about the country's direction and Congress, according to Tom Bevan, executive editor of national polling aggregator RealClearPolitics. He says independent voters are shifting away from the polices of the Obama administration and Democrats.
"Independents have flipped negative," warns Bevan. "That's not a good thing for any party."
Nonetheless, at the moment, outside of NY-23 there's only two parties to go to, at least in 2010.
Jack M. Balkin, Professor of Constitutional Law, Yale Law:
Barack Obama's Administration is the first Administration that both faces a
dominant and hostile new party press and has publicly recognized it as such.
It is seeking to change politicians' (and Presidents') relationships to a
media that has already changed for better or for worse. It is the first
Presidency to recognize and adapt to the rise of a powerful party/partisan
press, which, if the current decline of traditional newspapers continues, is
likely to be an increasingly dominant form of journalism in this century.
Whether the Obama Administration's current strategy will be successful, it
is clearly correct for it to identify and name the changed conditions under
which future Presidents will have to operate.
Don't miss our interview with Bruce Gellin, Director, National Vaccine Program Office, from Sunday.
But the pursuit of Snowe is pretty close to obsessive, which is not a good thing either for Democrats or for the prospects of health-care reform worthy of the name. First, Snowe's exaggerated prominence is both the result and symbol of Obama's quixotic and ultimately time--wasting pursuit of "bipartisanship." In case the White House hasn't noticed, Republicans in Congress are engaged in what amounts to a sitdown strike. They don't like anything about Obama or his policies; they have no interest in seeing him succeed. Despite the occasional protestation to the contrary, the GOP has no intention of helping him pass any legislation. Snowe may very well end up voting for whatever she and Democrats craft, but that won't make the outcome bipartisan any more than dancing shoes made Tom DeLay Fred Astaire....
Worse, the pursuit of Snowe isn't uniting Democrats; it is dividing them. Democrats who haven't been in the room with her as she bargains with the leadership bristle at her role, even as they personally like and admire her. She remains deeply skeptical of a publicly financed alternative to private insurance, in good part because of what she sees as the failure of Maine's version of the idea?and yet some form of a public option is favored not only by most Democrats in Congress but by most of the American people. If Obama and the Democrats really want such a plan, they may as well try to get tough. For inspiration, the president might consider a Longfellow aphorism. "In this world," the poet wrote, "a man must either be an anvil or a hammer."
Rick Ungar: Senator Evan Bayh - a wolf in sheep's clothing
They gave us a republic: A GOP stall on all Health and Human Services nominees has left the department without a surgeon general during a period of a global flu pandemic, prompting the HHS secretary to call for Senate action.
Consortiumblog: How a torture protest killed a career
HOLY CRAP: Even Jesus' assassins need to eat...Crumb?s Genesis...Conversion anxiety...For goodness sake...Wake Up, America...GOP & Rapture Cult...Cosmic narcissism...Latter Day Liar...Once a molesting priest, now a Moonie...Grandma gambit...Take action...Badass sign
Why is the word 'considers' in this headline? Bring them home. Meanwhile... Will this be the week? I smell a Rahm. Gingrich/Palin 2012! The trouble with triggers.[...]
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You see, President Obama really wanted to follow through on his campaign promise for a robust public option, he wanted to lobby individual members of Congress all these months on behalf of this goal, but you see, the administration now explains, Senator Reid never asked him to help. From TNR:
On Sunday, a senior administration official told TNR: We will be 100 percent behind whichever direction Reid decides to go. ... Reid hasn't asked for help. He is polling his caucus to make a decision on the opt out or the trigger. Whichever way he chooses, president Obama will help make the sale publicly and privately.So, once Harry Reid is done whipping his caucus, leaning on Senators, and cajoling his fellow members to vote for the plan he'd prefer - once all of that is done and Senator Reid has finally gotten the 60 votes he needs, only then will the President be happy to weigh in, publicly and privately, and help Senator Reid get the 60 votes he needs - the votes Senator Reid will already have at that point.
It doesn't get much clearer than that. Jarrett not only defended and reaffirmed President Obama's support for the public option, but said "we're going to keep pushing until they very last moment" for it.Yet today we find out that the White House isn't pushing at all, because they claim that Harry Reid hasn't asked them to, but they plan on pushing once Reid finally lines up the votes. Then why did Jarrett say on Friday that the White House was already pushing, if we now find out that they're not?
Monday's Headlines: U.S. Considers Reining In 'Too Big to Fail' Institutions Rainforest treaty 'fatally flawed' If you build a coverage mandate, will they come? One man puts a dent in tax evasions 'Iran is our friend,' says Turkish PM Recep Tayyip[...]
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