It took a couple of days, but sure enough, the hospitals and doctors recovered their senses to see the Reid-proposed Medicare buy-in as, Oh My God, back-door socialism. In place of an enfeebled public option, now beaten to death in the back rooms of the Senate, the Dems are proposing to make the biggest single-payer medical enterprise in the United States even bigger. Never mind that the buy-in would cost more than most people could afford; it’s still a step down the slippery slope to socialized medicine. As the Washington Post writes Friday morning:
The 10 moderate and liberal Democratic senators who negotiated the tentative agreement regarded the buy-in as a compromise. They dropped the idea, central to the health-care bill adopted by the House, of a government-sponsored insurance system. Instead, the buy-in would provide a new public alternative to people within a 10-year age span.
Some critics characterize this approach as disingenuous. “This was in the context of an alternative to a public program, when [Medicare] is . . . perhaps the biggest public program in health care in the universe,” said Richard J. Pollack, executive vice president for advocacy and public policy for the American Hospital Association, which sent out an alert urging hospitals nationwide to complain to their members of Congress.
AARP, health insurance mogul and self proclaimed voice of the geezer, nixed the idea. From the same article:
“I just don’t see it being that popular,” said John Rother, executive vice president for policy and strategy for AARP, an enormous lobby for people 50 and older.
He and others said it remains unclear whether the program would be designed with the same health benefits, co-payments by patients, or access to private health plans and supplemental coverage as the rest of Medicare. Depending on such details, Rother said, “it’s not even Medicare, but that’s a brand name everyone likes.” Still, he said, AARP always has favored the creation of a buy-in, as long as it would not worsen the Medicare system’s already shaky finances.
Then came the kiss of death. Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi came out for the buy-in.