• The new Senate deal

    My inbox is all aflutter with the claims of a deal being made in the Senate to get to 60 votes.  As all of you know, the public option has been a real stumbling block.  As readers of this blog know, I think the watered down public option that’s left isn’t worth much at all.  So it’s nice to see them trying to get something to replace it.

    First, the public option will now be a trigger:

    As has been widely reported, one of the trade-offs will be to extend a version of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to consumers in the exchanges. Insurance companies will have the option of creating nationally-based non-profit insurance plans that would offered on the exchanges in every state. However, according to the aide, if insurance companies don’t step up to the plate to offer such plans, that will trigger a national public option.

    My bet is we’ll see non-profits enter the exchange, which is better than nothing.

    Second, we have the Medicare buy-in:

    That buy-in option would initially be made available to some uninsured people aged 55-64 in 2011, three years before the exchanges open. For the period between 2011 and 2014, when the exchanges do open, the Medicare option will not be subsidized–people will have to pay in without federal premium assistance–and so will likely be quite expensive, the aide noted. However, after the exchanges launch, the Medicare option would be offered in the exchanges, where people could pay into it with their subsidies.

    As I said a few days ago, this will be attractive to many people approaching Medicare age.  Opposition to this should be interesting.  You watch, though.  The AMA and the hospitals won’t like this.

    Third:

    In addition to the new insurance options, the group has tentatively agreed to new, and strengthened, insurance regulations, which the aide could not divulge at this time.

    I hear they may have to do with requirements on how much money from premiums must go to actual care.  That’s a good thing.

    They tried to expand Medicaid to 150% of the poverty line, but didn’t get it.

    And that’s where we are.  They need to get to 60, so they need Senator Lieberman or one of the Republicans to buy in (without losing Senator Nelson).  This seems promising for them, though.  Let’s watch.

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