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Friday, June 19, 2009

A votre sante

by digby

Our pal Senator Lincoln finally got off the fence today and stopped equivocating about the public plan choice. She's definitely against it:

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., says she prefers private insurance cooperatives to a government-run provider that would compete with the private sector in reforming the nation’s health care system.

“We want to keep what works in the private industry and make it better,” Lincoln told Arkansas reporters in a conference call today. “There’s a lot of discussion about what else we might need that we can’t get from the private sector.”

Lincoln sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which will have a central role in determining how to pay for a health care overhaul intended to control skyrocketing costs and provide health coverage for 47 million uninsured Americans. More than 500,000 Arkansans have no health insurance, 66,000 of which are children, according to the senator.

“A co-op would be the back up for the private industry,” Lincoln said.

The senator left the door open to supporting a government-option, though she acknowledged she has reservations.

“One of our biggest concerns is that it doesn’t need to be a government plan that usurps that ability to compete in the marketplace, which I’m concerned that a totally government-run option would do,” she said.

Insurance companies have had the marketplace all to themselves for many years. And it has also been clear for many years that the ever increasing cost of health care is unsustainable, that our businesses can't compete because of it, that Americans are going bankrupt by the millions because of an illness even if they are insured, that care is being rationed in an arbitrary and cruel fashion and that insurance companies, particularly their CEOs, have been getting obscenely wealthy on the backs of their sick customers. They could have fixed this system, or at least behaved like decent corporate citizens at any time. They chose not to, squeezing every last penny out of their customers and giving as little as they could get away with in return.

Insurance companies have been instrumental in creating this crisis and are now complaining when the government has to take measures to keep the whole system from imploding and taking down the American economy with it. But this time we can either bailout the average working American by giving them a real option for a change rather than bailing out another failed industry with more taxpayer dollars.

The insurance companies are using the vast wealth they accumulated in the run up to this crisis to keep from having to pay the piper. They do not want to have to compete with an entity that will be charged with actually serving their patients over profit. It's not like they didn't see it coming. They could have fixed many of the problems themselves and chose not to because they figured it was cheaper and easier to buy off the political class instead. We'll see.

Senator Lincoln is running for reelection next year. One hopes for her sake that there are as many insurance company executives living in her state as there are Democrats because she's going to need every one of those fat cats to vote for her once her constituents figure out who she's actually working for.

If you haven't tossed in a couple of bucks to Blue America's Campaign For Health Care Choice, where we hope to help Senator Lincoln's voters understand why she thinks the health of insurance companies is more important than the health of human beings, you can do so here.

On a more hopeful front, the House released its plan to day and it's ... good! Here's Howie Klein's take on the House plan along with an update on the Campaign For Health Care Choice.

And just in case you were wondering what the ever more irrelevant Republicans have to add to the debate, here's a little video to get you up to speed:

There's one thing nobody can take away from the United States. We produce some of the very best politicians money can buy.