Sam Smith – On a number of occasions I have noted the lack of real numbers in the healthcare debate. This is somewhat corrected in what follows, bearing in mind that the enumerators have a vested interest in the bill’s passage. Nonetheless, much as the bill is one of the worst contrived social measures ever to come this close to passage, it also seems that the measure helps a large number of people if at extraordinary and corrupt cost.

I think the problem in part is that these days the politically active – liberals in this case – tend to pay too much attention to the game and not enough about what the game is about. You shouldn’t play games with people’s lives and health.

The arguments against the bill rightfully point out the insidious subsidies to the insurance industry and the costs, but fail to provide any substantial proof that there are not significant positive benefits buried in the slime. Absent that proof the balance is in the bill’s favor.

If this is true, then voting the bill down will hurt many people and deny many others needed progress. That doesn’t however, mean that progressives are without power to make their point.

The easiest way is to openly help make Harry Reid history. He’s headed for defeat anyway, and aggressive progressive assistance would wake up a few other Democrats.

The other way, even it seems a little wild, would be to start a drive to run Howard Dean for president in 2012. Dean, after all, is the guy who got the Democratic Party in good enough shape to elect Obama who then treated him like dirt. Obama is in far worse condition than the Democrats or the sycophantic media want to admit. The mere existence of a Draft Dean movement could shake things up substantially and positively. And that’s from a guy who doesn’t even agree with Dean on what to with the Senate health bill.

The point is that defeating legislation to make a point is not always the best strategy, especially if a lot people will blame you for their continued problems with health insurance. It may sometimes be better to live with the bad deal and get your political justice elsewhere.

Some stats

Families USA – 707,000 people in Virginia will gain coverage by 2019 under the Senate health reform bill. Based on Congressional Budget Office data, also shows that, without health reform, a Famlies USA report finds that 182,000 people in Virginia will lose health coverage by 2019. In 2007 and 2008, the average number of uninsured people in Virginia was 1,049,000, but that total will rise to 1,231,000 if the bill fails to pass.

Nationally, the number of uninsured will reach 54 million in 2019 in the absence of comprehensive health reform.

The Senate bill requires insurers to offer coverage to every person who applies, regardless of health status, age, or gender.

The Senate bill will help millions of middle-class families who simply cannot afford health coverage by creating a new health insurance marketplace where they will be able to purchase quality coverage, regardless of gender or health status. In addition, the bill will make premium subsidies available to families with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($88,200 in annual income for a family of four in 2009).

Currently, in 42 states, adults without dependent children are not eligible for Medicaid at all-even if they are penniless. The Senate bill will make all individuals who have incomes below 133 percent of poverty (about $29,330 for a family of four in 2009) eligible for Medicaid regardless of whether they have dependent children or not, substantially increasing the number of very low-income people with health coverage.

Progress Report – The Senate bill has a number of provisions to contain costs and “ensure that working class Americans will no longer go without basic health care coverage,” says American Progress Action Fund President John Podesta. It would lower insurance premiums by an average of 8.4 percent, provide subsidies for people who cannot afford insurance and “represents the largest single expansion of Medicaid since its inception.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill covers 31 million currently uninsured Americans, extending coverage to 98 percent of legal residents. And according to the CBO, the amount that subsidized individuals would pay for insurance coverage “would be roughly 56 percent to 59 percent lower on average than the non-group premiums charged under current law.”

Also, “the bill also ends insurer discrimination against women — who currently pay as much as 48% more for coverage than men — and gives them access preventive services with no cost sharing.”


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