Today’s Health Care Debate Was Brought To You By The Letter E

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David Sessions at Politics Daily:

Grasping for a way to sell a part of health care reform they feel is little understood, House Democrats are considering expanding Medicare to cover everyone, accomplishing roughly the same thing as a public insurance option and within a framework the public already understands, The Hill reported Wednesday. The idea has slowly risen through the ranks, and was discussed at a caucus meeting last week. On Tuesday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a proposal that would vastly expand Medicare and tie provider reimbursement rates to those of existing Medicare rates.

The strategy could help liberal Democrats convince their centrist colleagues that the public option is palatable to the public. It also frames the health care debate in terms that are well-understood by an electorate that seems reluctant to embrace a major overhaul. A few House Democrats, however, dismissed the plan as an unnecessary gimmick, given that support for a flat-out government insurance option has been steadily rising since it was first attacked as a government takeover of health care.

Republicans also scoffed at the effort. “It didn’t matter what they called Crystal Pepsi; no one wanted to drink it,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). “No matter how the Democrats ‘rebrand’ their government takeover of health care, the American people oppose it.”

Atrios:

Medicare E

This is good news. The more to the left both of the bills can be pulled, the more chance there is of a good final outcome.

Digby:

Say hello to “Medicare Part E” — as in, “Medicare for Everyone.”

House Democrats are looking at re-branding the public health insurance option as Medicare, an established government healthcare program that is better known than the public option.

The strategy could benefit Democrats struggling to bridge the gap between liberals in their party, who want the public option, and centrists, who are worried it would drive private insurers out of business.

While much of the public is foggy on what a public option actually is, people understand Medicare. It also would place the new public option within the rubric of a familiar system rather than something new and unknown.

The idea has bubbled up among House Democrats and leaders in the past week, most prominently in a caucus meeting last Thursday.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) spoke out last week in favor of re-branding the public option as Medicare, startling many because he has loudly proclaimed his opposition to a public option.

Ernest Istook at the Heritage Foundation:

The latest ploy to promote Obamacare is to rename it after something popular. Giving it the title of “Medicare Part E” is the newest tactic.

The package might look different, but inside is the same old stuff: Government-run health care that is so expensive that it threatens our economy today and our future tomorrow.

Although popular, Medicare already is sinking under $38-trillion in unfunded future liabilities. Adding trillions in new spending will make Medicare sink even faster.

Adding Obamacare to Medicare threatens the program that seniors rely upon and lessens the chances of ever fixing Medicare’s financial problems.

Because Medicare lowballs its payments to health providers, it causes them to charge more to other patients to make up the difference. Already, according to the Milliman Group, non-Medicare families already pay an extra $1,800 a year in higher health bills. Shifting millions more people into Medicare would worsen this cost-shifting onto everyone else. It especially hurts health care in rural areas, where Medicare reimbursement rates are the lowest.

The effort to recast their government-run “public option” as part of Medicare shows the dilemma of Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill. Whether they call it Medicare Part E, Happy Health Care, or Santa Claus, a catchy name doesn’t change what they’re doing. Their plan would expand central planning and price controls. It would add tens of thousands of pages of regulations, rules, guidelines, and administrative decisions to the sea of red tape that already jacks up the costs of health care and insurance by creating enormous hidden costs on the system.

Giving their messy plan the name of “Medicare Part E” is only the latest tactic. Each day they try to put a fresh face on the plan, but under the mask it’s always the same old big government and big spending approach.

Weasel Zippers:

Do The Dems Really Think The American Public is This Stupid? Re-Branding Public Option as “Medicare for Everyone”…..

Apparently they do, with one “blue dog” (Mike Ross of Arkansas) saying he’s changing his stance and is now in favor of the public option solely because the Dem leadership is changing the name of it to Medicare (no, that is not a joke)….

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Filed under Entitlements, Health Care, Legislation Pending

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