Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Public Health Option and Lessons from the San Francisco Experiment

Medical_symbol2 As I prepare to provide brief commentary on various legislative provisions for a CCH publication that will explain health care reform legislation once it is finalized, I could not help but take notice of this important op-ed. It is by a trio of labor and health economists that ran in the New York Times this weekend on the much discussed public option and its relations to employers being mandated through a pay or play system to provide health insurance for their employees.

Here's a taste:

TWO burning questions are at the center of America’s health care debate. First, should employers be required to pay for their employees’ health insurance? And second, should there be a “public option” that competes with private insurance?

Answers might be found in San Francisco, where ambitious health care legislation went into effect early last year. San Francisco and Massachusetts now offer the only near-universal health care programs in the United States . . . .

[W]e have seen how concern over employer costs can be a sticking point in the health care debate, even in the absence of persuasive evidence that increased costs would seriously harm businesses. San Francisco’s example should put some of those fears to rest. Many businesses there had to raise their health spending substantially to meet the new requirements, but so far the plan has not hurt jobs . . . .

So how have employers adjusted to the higher costs, if not by cutting jobs? More than 25 percent of restaurants, for example, have instituted a “surcharge” — about 4 percent of the bill for most establishments — to pay for the additional costs. Local service businesses can add this surcharge (or raise prices) without risking their competitive position, since their competitors will be required to take similar measures. Furthermore, some of the costs may be passed on to employees in the form of smaller pay raises, which could help ward off the possibility of job losses. Over the longer term, if more widespread coverage allows people to choose jobs based on their skills and not out of fear of losing health insurance from one specific employer, increased productivity will help pay for some of the costs of the mandate.

In case you think this is all a bunch of liberal, Democratic mishigosh, one of the authors of this op-ed happens to be non-other than William Dow, a senior economist who worked for President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.

In other words, increasing evidence is out there that health care reform with a public option and an employer pay or play mandate might be just what our system needs to rein in health care costs while at the same time providing health insurance to a much larger segment of American society.


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This article is FOR public-option healthcare bill, right? But the SF & MS results appear AGAINST the public-option. MS provision has caused many fiscal problems for their taxpayers. SF mandates only been in-force a few months, yet consequences already apparent. Author says so far no lost jobs. But that effect is certainly coming, and soon. Consider this: The surcharge passes cost increases the business cannot now afford on to its customers. Customers now have less money remaining, so each must now purchase less. Due to lower sales, the surcharging-business must either raise its surcharge again (further reducing sales), or layoff workers (lowering healthcare mandates payable).

You cannot simply charge everbody for something they should be doing for themselves. Natural result is more folks will simply do less and wait for their handouts, leaving an ever-declining group to pick up the tab. We should be teaching our neighbors to fish, not giving them our fish. All of us working, we win. Some working-some sitting, we lose.

Posted by: Jeffrey Baskins | Aug 24, 2009 1:12:28 PM

NO CO-OP'S! A Little History Lesson

Young People. America needs your help.

More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

Our last great economic catastrophe was called the Great Depression. Then as now it was caused by a reckless, and corrupt Republican administration and republican congress. FDR a Democrat, was then elected to save the nation and the American people from the unbridled GREED and profiteering, of the unregulated predatory self-interest of the banking industry and Wallstreet. Just like now.

FDR proposed a Government-run health insurance plan to go with Social Security. To assure all Americans high quality, easily accessible, affordable, National Healthcare security. Regardless of where you lived, worked, or your ability to pay. But the AMA riled against it. Using all manor of scare tactics, like Calling it SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!! :-0

So FDR established thousands of co-op's around the country in rural America. And all of them failed. The biggest of these co-op organizations would become the grandfather of the predatory monster that all of you know today as the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry. And the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry.

This former co-op would grow so powerful that it would corrupt every aspect of healthcare delivery in America. Even corrupting the Government of the United States.

This former co-op's name is BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD.

Do you see now why even the suggestion of co-op's is ridiculous. It makes me so ANGRY! Co-op's are not a substitute for a government-run public option.

They are trying to pull the wool over our eye's again. Senators, if you don't have the votes now, GET THEM! Or turn them over to us. WE WILL! DEAL WITH THEM. Why do you think we gave your party Control of the House, Control of the Senate, Control of the Whitehouse. The only option on the table that has any chance of fixing our healthcare crisis is a STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION.

An insurance mandate and subsidies without a strong government-run public option choice available on day one, would be worse than the healthcare catastrophe we have now. The insurance, and healthcare industry have been very successful at exploiting the good hearts of the American people. But Congress and the president must not let that happen this time. House Progressives and members of the Tri-caucus must continue to hold firm on their demand for a strong Government-run public option.

A healthcare reform bill with mandates and subsidies but without a STRONG government-run public option choice on day one, would be much worse than NO healthcare reform at all. So you must be strong and KILL IT! if you have too. And let the chips fall where they may. You can do insurance reform without mandates, subsidies, or taxpayer expense.

Actually, no tax payer funds should be use to subsidize any private for profit insurance plans. So, NO TAX PAYER SUBSIDIZES TO PRIVATE FOR PROFIT PLANS. Tax payer funds should only be used to subsidize the public plans. Healthcare reform should be 100% for the American people. Not another taxpayer bailout of the private for profit insurance industry, disguised as healthcare reform for the people.

God Bless You

Jacksmith — Working Class

Twitter search #welovetheNHS #NHS Check it out


Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (


Posted by: jacksmith | Aug 24, 2009 2:58:31 PM

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