Friday, December 18, 2009

Dylan Ratigan Reads Debbie Wasserman Schultz Riot Act Over Increase in Insurance Stock Prices

Keith Hennessey looked into his legislative crystal ball and found it foggy. He notes:
A friend astutely observed, “The proponents of this thing are simultaneously closer to final success – and to a complete collapse – than they have been for months.”
The potential for complete collapse comes largely from the increased opposition from the progressives who are outraged the absence of a public option to "compete" with private insurers have handed insurers a monopoly with a directive from the government that all must buy health insurance. The notion that a government run insurance program can compete fairly has been one of my arguments against the public option all along. Progressives, however,  seem to have been banking on the absence of fair competition to keep the reviled private insurers in their place. I guess lagging the poorly performing S&P 500 since 2007 is not enough of a punishment for insurers in the mind of progressives.

Hennessey notes the same intense hatred for insurers in the sudden outrage over the mandate from the progressives:
Some on the Left now oppose the individual mandate. (See both parts of Keith Olbermann’s commentary.) This surprised me before I understood the logic. Mandating coverage in which the government can “keep prices down” through fiat is a good thing, they argue, while mandates without “cost controls” is bad. This appears to hinge on an intense hatred for a private insurance industry. So now both ends of the policy spectrum oppose the individual mandate within the Reid bill, albeit for different reasons. It would be interesting to see how a vote to strike the mandate turned out in one of the post-cloture voting periods.

Advocates on the Left are correct that health insurers would be big financial winners in this bill. The government would be forcing everyone to buy their product, under penalty of punitive taxation for those who did not. Continued support (or at least non-opposition) from the insurers tells me they believe these guaranteed customers are worth the downsides of community rating and premium taxes.
Dylan Ratigan has noted the increase in stock prices spurred by the many new customers the insurers will gain if the health care reform is passed.  It is also plausible the prices are rising on the possibility the entire reform will collapse but Wasserman Schultz is not about to make that case in response.  Wasserman Schultz instead is left talking over the growing fury of Ratigan arguing "he could be his own guest."  Consider this clip a scene from the battlefield in the growing civil war on the left over health care.

ADDED: It will come as no surprise to Paul Krugman that the mandate issue would be the downfall of health care reform. Krugman looked into his crystal ball as far back as February 2008 and saw nothing but despair:

If Mr. Obama gets to the White House and tries to achieve universal coverage, he’ll find that it can’t be done without mandates — but if he tries to institute mandates, the enemies of reform will use his own words against him.

If you combine the economic analysis with these political realities, here’s what I think it says: If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance — nobody knows how big — that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen.

1 comment:

  1. Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows nothing. Robert Lowry will be taking her place for Florida's US Congressional District 20 in 2010. LowryforCongress (dotcom) is the web site. Be gone, Debbie, be gone!


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