Thursday, January 13, 2011

A CREW "Cut" On Sessions And Saint Mikey

I have a bit of catching up to do concerning our PA-08 U.S. House rep, particularly since he’s one of the individuals cited in a complaint today by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), as the Bucks County Courier Times tells us here…

"Republicans have made strict adherence to the Constitution a hallmark of the new Congress," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said. "Now we will find out if that was just window dressing designed to appease the tea party movement or if they were sincere. Two Republican House members (Fitzpatrick and Pete Sessions) have blatantly violated not only House rules, but federal law and the Constitution. Will they be held accountable, or given a pass?"
That's a good question (and I got into some of this before here, by the way).

Also, Mikey The Beloved recently held another town hall on the health care law (another sop to those zany teabaggers, as noted here…and please, J.D. Mullane, remind us once more how important it is that Fitzpatrick is an Eagle Scout – hard to reconcile that with the flood of lies that engulfed last year’s congressional campaign against Patrick Murphy in those ridiculous full-page Courier Times ads, which quite probably were paid for at least in part by the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce)…

Fitzpatrick left no doubt where he stood. He wants to repeal the law to end what he called "job killing mandates" and replace it with a free market approach that gives small business the same advantages as large corporations, includes malpractice reform, and allows consumers to shop across state lines.

He also supports keeping the popular portions of the current law, such as keeping young adults on their parents' plans and allowing individuals with pre-existing conditions to maintain their insurance.

"There's nothing in the bill that dealt with cost containment," Fitzpatrick said. "There's nothing in the bill that dealt with keeping us healthy. + I want more free market principles that make our health care the best in the world."

Several in the crowd pushed Fitzpatrick on why he's so set on repeal without any replacement legislation.

One man said Republicans did nothing to fix the system when they had "massive power."

"Now something is done and you're saying we've got to repeal it."

(Doylestown Council President Det) Ansinn, who said his company saw its rates go down this year after a decade of increases, asked, "What's this urgency to repeal without developing an alternative?"

Fitzpatrick said the mandates that force everyone to purchase insurance, increased regulation on businesses and $500 billion in new taxes, make repeal necessary now.
Concerning that dreaded individual mandate (no word from Mikey of what he thinks of the individual mandate of “Romney-care” in MA, by the way), Ezra Klein tells us the following here…

But what's the alternative? No one wants an individual mandate. But the folks who spend all their time trying to solve the first problem (of older, poorer and sicker individuals unable to access care, except through emergency rooms) have concluded that you can't do it without an individual mandate. After all, why do people get priced out of insurance? The answer, aside from "they're poor," is that they're bad risks. They're older, or they're sicker, or they've been sicker at some point in the past, or they work at a dangerous job or a job associated with chronic injuries.

If reform simply forces insurance companies to sell to these people, then prices skyrocket for everyone, as the sicker or the older rush into the market, while the young and the healthy hang back. In that scenario, you've not solved the problem of pricing people out. You've arguably worsened it. If you want to solve the problem of pricing out but you don't want an individual mandate, you need to think of an alternative to it.

Moreover, it's simply not true…that the people paying the $750 individual mandate penalty get nothing in return. Far from it, in fact. For one thing, they get access to emergency care, as happens now. For another, they get the chance to come back into the system when they actually need insurance. Someone who puts off purchasing coverage and then tries to buy Aetna's plan the first time they collapse unexpectedly will not be sold a plan. Having chosen not to buy insurance when they didn't need care, they can't buy it now that they do need care. They become the priced out or, in some cases, locked out.

Under reform, these people get the chance to come back into the system when they need coverage. They can't be discriminated against. Indeed, you can argue that these folks, the ones willing to game the system, are the most advantaged of all the groups. It's why the individual mandate should be stronger, not weaker, than it is now.
And as far as health care reform supposedly being a “job killer,” I give you the following from here…

Since President Obama signed health care reform into law on March 23, 2010, the economy created 117,000 jobs per month, leading to a total of 935,000 new jobs in the private sector and economists estimate that the savings from health care reform could add even more. That’s because employers respond to rising costs by reducing benefits and lowering wages. But, since firms can’t significantly lower wages for employees at or near minimum wage or workers who are in fixed contracts, rising health care costs also lead to job losses. One study found that every 10% increase in health costs that are above GDP growth leads to 120,000 fewer jobs. Economists predict that reform will lower health care spending (CBO says that reform will reduce average premiums for employers with more than 50 employees by between 0 and 3%) and estimate that it has the potential of creating somewhere between 250,000 and 400,000 jobs — positions which will never be available if the measure is repealed.
Also, this tells us about the tax credit available to small businesses that will allow these firms to cover their employees for the first time. In addition, this tells us about how health care reform will lower the deficit (and repealing it would expand it), and this tells us that Fitzpatrick’s claim about “$500 billion in new taxes” could be tied to middle and lower-income people registering for the exchanges mandated by the law (can’t find any other sourcing for that remark).

I expect that Mikey is going to keep me busy for a little while with antics like this. What a shame that he can’t govern like an actual adult instead. But it is his right to do so, I admit.

Now that he’s officially sworn in. For real this time.

Update 1 1/14/11: And by the way, on the subject of health care reform, Mikey would do well to pay attention to this exchange.

Update 2 1/14/11: Also, leave it to Mikey’s PR machine to leap to his defense today (last two paragraphs here).

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