Many People Have Wrong Expectations about the Health-Reform Bill
Except for people who have really been following the health-reform debate in detail, many people
have do not have a good idea of what it will really mean. Politico has a
of some common misconceptions a lot of people have about the bill Given all the screaming and yelling about it,
it is not surprising that even if a bill passes, it will not be what
many people expect. Here are some of the most common misconceptions.
- Everyone can choose the public option (No: only about 30 million will be allowed to).
- Everyone can use the new exchanges (No: only the self-employed and the poor can).
- The new choices take effect immediately (No: they start in 2013).
- There is a big fine if you don't have insurance (No: zero until 2014; $750 in 2017).
For the vast majority of people, who get insurance via their employer, nothing at all changes.
They cannot choose any of the new alternative forms of insurance and are stuck with whatever their
employer offers them, good or bad. President Obama sees this as a feature, not a bug, because it
provides the minimum possible disruption to the current system--and look how much opposition it
generated. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) never tires of
that if you don't like your car insurance company, you can get a new one but if you don't like the health
plan your company picked, well, tough luck--but nobody is listening (Wyden wants to force companies to offer
at least two plans).
Of course, some of this could change in the conference bill or
come 2015 or so, Congress could allow more people to use the exchanges once
they are operating, but any attempt to expand eligibility will meet fierce resistance from the
insurance companies and the Republicans. On the other hand, once the exchanges are operating and it
is clear to everyone that the world as we know if has not come to an end, it will be harder to
oppose expanding the pool of people allowed to use the exchanges.
If the public option is included in the final bill and passes, it is likely that the insurance
companies will quickly see its value. They will try very hard to annoy sick customers in hopes they
will voluntarily leave and use the public option. This will (1) get rid of expensive customers and
(2) burden the public plan with expensive people, making it impossible for it to offer low premiums.
How might the insurance companies annoy people they don't like? They could make them wait on hold
endlessly when they call for information and then give them a run-around when they finally get through,
be slow making payments, make "mistakes" all the time, and so on. Conversely, they could give excellent
service to young, healthy customers.
Palin's Book Out Today
Sarah Palin's book, Going Rogue, is out today. Early
say that it goes after the McCain campaign staff hammer and tongs, but leaves the father of her grandson,
Levi Johnston alone. Johnston has said she better leave him alone because he has seriously damaging material
on her. The book has an initial print run of 1.5 million copies and will be an instant best seller.
of it everywhere all week. The
have already started. This is part of Palin's problem: when you are the butt of jokes, it is hard to look
presidential. Mike Huckabee wrote a book too, but nobody jokes about it.
The book has three purposes. First, Palin, who is not rich, will make millions of dollars in royalties
from it, thus cashing in on her fame. Second, it presents her side of various stories (such at the infighting during the 2008
campaign). Third, it keeps her in the news and enhances her chances in the 2012 Republican primaries.
It is doubtful that she has even seriously thought about whether she is going to run for President then,
but the book keeps the door open.
A new Washington Post/ABC News
shows how polarizing Palin is. Among Republicans, 76% have a favorable view of her but among all Americans,
60% say she is not qualified to be President. The bottom line on numbers like these is that she could conceivably
win the Republican nomination, only to be squashed like a bug in the general election.
Unless the Republicans change their nomination process before 2012, Palin actually has a decent shot at
the nomination if she decides to run. The big thing she has going for her it the fact that most Republican
primaries are winner take all. In a five-way race against Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, and
Newt Gingrich, she could get 30% of the vote and 100% of the delegates in many states. Furthermore,
Republican primary voters are much more conservative than the party as a whole, which helps her a lot.
If Palin wins the
early races in Bible-belt Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, she may have enough momentum to carry
her through the first round of big states. At that point, the party may panic about her, but convincing
any of the others except Pawlenty to drop out will be tough. Huckabee came in second in 2008 and probably
thinks of himself as the heir apparent. Romney spent $40 million of his own money in 2008 and could
easily repeat that in 2012 and is the candidate the business wing of the GOP likes best, so he won't drop out.
Gingrich has been around for a long time (he engineered the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress) and if
he decides to run, he will regard himself as the only candidate with new ideas and is very unlikely to
allows guys like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to tell him what to do. But Palin may be more interested
in milking her fame for all its worth until the summer of 2011 and not run after all.
Another factor to consider is the possibility of a reverse Limbaugh play. In 2008, after it was
already clear that Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee, Rush Limbaugh strongly urged Republicans
to switch their party registration to Democratic to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to prolong the
primary process. It is not clear how many did, but little did he realize how much he was helping Obama.
By forcing Obama to hone his message and campaign team in the Spring, he had a well-disciplined organization
in the Fall. If Clinton had dropped out in April 2008, Obama would have been a far weaker candidate in
the general election. In 2012, we might see the reverse, with Daily Kos and other Democratic-oriented
groups urging Democrats to reregister as Republicans in order to vote for Palin in the primaries.
However, this is where the comparison ends. Palin could actually win the nomination and would be the weakest
possible candidate the Republicans could field in the general election.
Coakley Leading in Massachusetts Primary
The most recent
in the Dec. 8 Massachusetts Democratic primary to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy has state Attorney General
Martha Coakley at 44%, more than all of her competitors combined. But 20% of the voters are still
undecided. On the Republican side, state senator Scott Brown is leading his nearest competitor 45% to 7%,
but it hardly matters who wins since the Democrat is virtually certain of winning the general election in
January in very blue Massachusetts. So it looks like come January, there will be another woman in the Senate.
Hutchison Will Not Resign Before the Texas Primary
Rumors that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would resign from the Senate to spend all her time campaigning
for governor of Texas have turned out to be false. Hutchison has now
that she will stay in the Senate until after the March 2nd primary in order to oppose the health-care bill
and the climate-change bill.
(English translation: Rasmussen says Gov. Perry has an
at the moment. If she loses the primary, she may just
being a senator isn't such a bad job after all.)
Paterson Trails All Candidates in New Poll
Embattled Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) would
a primary with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D)
by 60 points and would be defeated by Rudy Guiliani and even by former representative Rick Lazio (R) if the
gubernatorial election were held today.
President Obama has already asked Paterson not to run.
What else is he waiting for? At this point the most likely scenario in New York is that Paterson does not
run to avoid the embarrassment of being crushed by Cuomo, and then Cuomo goes on to win his dad's old job
Beau Biden Leading Castle in Delaware
If Joe Biden's son, Beau (now Delaware Attorney General) were to run for the Senate, a new
shows he would beat Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) who is trying for a promotion at age 70.
Earlier polls put Castle way ahead. The younger Biden has not announced whether or not he is running, but
this poll will certainly push him in the direction of going after the Senate seat his father held for 30 years.
One of the things that is going to hurt Castle in blue Delaware is his vote against
the health-reform bill that passed the House. If Biden runs, he will hammer Castle on this.
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