June 22nd, 2017

Covering the Senate health insurance bill

First of all, let’s call it the right thing: it’s not a health care bill, it’s a health insurance bill.

Semantics aside, what’s in it? And does it matter? I doubt this will be the final version, but it’s a good indication of where the thing may be headed.

Trouble is, it’s a hard subject to talk about for the simple reason that we can’t trust the media to summarize it or report on it fairly, and that distrust been present for a long time. Here’s the memeorandum coverage for today, for what it’s worth; you can see for yourself how much is propaganda.

I’m not about to read the bill myself (I’m very busy today), although I may have to resort to that. It’s not a question of left or right, either, because the left tends to distort in one way (“this is going to kill us all!”) and the right in another (“It’s fabulous!” or “It’s another cruel lie of the GOP establishment cucks!”, depending on which part of the right is speaking).

I will wait for the analysis by someone in whom I feel a relative amount of trust, like Avik Roy. But I noticed that Roy has tweeted a preliminary reaction: “Finished reading the Senate HC bill. Put simply: If it passes, it’ll be the greatest policy achievement by a GOP Congress in my lifetime.” The responses on that page are as you might expect.

Roy also added, “The centerpiece of the @FREOPP plan (http://bit.ly/2sFwCDk )—means-tested, age-adjusted tax credits—is in the Senate bill. This is huge.”

I am tentative, but I have to say that I’ve found Roy to be the fairest and most intelligent analyst of health care insurance bills in the past, and I find his reaction very encouraging indeed.

8 Responses to “Covering the Senate health insurance bill”

  1. KLSmith Says:

    Read Peter Suderman over at “Reason”.

  2. Oldflyer Says:

    Well Neo, I hope that R. Paul, Cruz and the other Republican Senators who have already trashed it will read the same analysis and reconsider.

    Someone should reinforce in the minds of some of these Mavericks that the perfect is the enemy of the good. They are not going to ever get what they want–it isn’t in the cards, so there is a time to simply support the party, and move on. I am almost as sick of them as I am of the democrats.

    One thing the Republican Congressional and Senate Caucuses really need is an enforcer. I thought Trump might fill the void. I guess we will see pretty soon whether he will.

  3. J.J. Says:

    Here’s a quick summary of the bill comparing Obamacare with the two GOP versions.

    Here’s Avik Roy’s column in the NYTs.

    Most of this is much ado about trying to get more people covered by using government financial subsidies. More government money distorting the cost of health care, just as government student loans have distorted the cost of college. It does nothing to correct the real problem, which is runaway health care costs. That is the real problem, but few seem to recognize it. Maybe they recognize it but realize that it would require a revolution in the way health care is delivered and paid for. It’s just too hard to fix, so they ignore it.

  4. parker Says:


    Right on.

  5. Farr Says:

    The primary goal of the bill is to make the wealthy wealthier.

  6. Brian E Says:

    “Everyone knew Obamacare would need future tuning to get it right. That gave us mental permission to focus on the good parts we understood – the greater coverage – and hope the other details would get worked out later. President Obama nailed the Contrast Problem like the Master Persuader he is.

    That was then.

    Now, President Trump and the Republicans have the “going second” problem. The public will compare their proposed bill with Obamacare and conclude that the one metric they understand – the number of people covered – does not compare favorably with Obamacare. The contrast is fatal.”


    I think Scott Adams has put his finger on the fundamental problem with what the GOP is doing. The lens through which the GOP plan is being viewed is: does it cover more or fewer people than Obamacare?

    Does it reduce costs to the government? Doesn’t matter and the amount is relatively small (I think the House version saved $120 billion over 10 years).

    Does it lower premiums? Marginally.

    Does it reduce the number insured? You’ve already read the absurd charges from the left– killing Americans, blood on your hands, etc.

    It’s that headwind the GOP faces.

  7. Brian E Says:

    “The primary goal of the bill is to make the wealthy wealthier.” – Farr

    Where did you read that?

  8. J.J. Says:

    Hyperbolic claims from the progs are such blatant lies.

    Senator Patty Murray: (paraphrasing) “This mean bill will affect everyone in the USA.”

    Wrong! The people affected are the approximately 21 million people (9-10 million on Medicaid and 11 million on individual policies.) The people on Medicaid are essentially untouched until 2021 when the states will have to decide how federal block grants will be spent on Medicaid recipients. There is plenty of time for the 31 states and D.C. that accepted enhanced Medicaid to figure out how they will proceed after the feds quit paying all the bills and provide only block grants.

    The Senate version of the bill provides more help to low income purchasers of individual health policies because it isn’t just a straight tax credit, but, while more complex, provides higher levels of tax credits to older and poorer purchasers. In other words it is less “mean” than the House bill. Avik Roy says it would be ground breaking legislation if it can be passed.

    IMHO, the gang of four senators need to do their best to try to amend the bill, but need to get on board even if it doesn’t meet all their requirements. Any bill is better than nothing. Obamacare is collapsing. Many individual purchasers will have no where to turn even if they can afford insurance. The House and Senate bills provide them a path to getting insurance, albeit imperfect.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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