I am becoming increasingly concerned with my side – the progressive side – of the political spectrum. Ed Schultz of the MSNBC Ed Show and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com, for instance, are ranting and raving about the bills moving through Congress and are irrationally and destructively attacking President Obama and the Democrats for what appears to be the best reform to come down the pike since Medicare was passed.
They are focusing solely on the mandate that everyone obtain insurance. I share their concern about that but I am not ready to help the left destroy the Democrats’ majority and the chance of a second term for President Obama because of it. Furthermore, these progressives are ill-informed.
They are overlooking major changes that move this country toward fairness and a truly humane health care system for everyone. For instance, I posted a blog yesterday regarding the first move in a long time toward progressive taxation. Today, I will mention just one other very good thing in the Senate bill (and there are many) that has passed the cloture hurdle: expanding eligibility of Medicaid to 150% of poverty. Since 150% of poverty is $16,245 for an individual, this means that the the working poor will be covered by a single payer system – everyone making up to $7.81 per hour, working 40 hours per week, would be eligible for Medicaid.
Most people don’t know that Medicare now pays for 36.2% of hospital stays and Medicaid pays for 19.5%, which means that, excluding the VA and Indian Health Service, approximately 55.7% of hospital stays are reimbursed by a single payer system. The Senate bill would expand that coverage to the working poor.
We will get a health care reform bill. It won’t be what we – the progressives – have our heart set on. But it will be totally stupid to help the Republicans use it to undermine 2012 liberal candidates and the Obama Administration.