September 30, 2009

David Gergen apparently thinks that 30% the insurance companies are taking to move our money around is just a "secondary issue" when it comes to what's in the bill making its way through the Senate right now. He then goes on to say it's not real reform and talks about how expensive Romney-care is in Massachusetts. I don't know how anyone could square those two statements. I don't think it's any big mystery why the public option is needed. To keep costs down. I'll refer back to Howard Dean on this one:

Dean: If you're not going to have a public option, then don't call it health reform. Strip all the money out of the bill and just do something we did here in Vermont about fifteen years ago, guaranteed issue and community rating. Require insurance companies to insure everybody. Stop them from kicking people off and don't let them charge huge amounts of money for sicker patients.

That's not health reform. It's insurance reform. You won't do much for the uninsured but you will make the health insurance market work better for the people it does work for. And you know, that's an incremental step and I wouldn't want to throw that out, but I'd strip the money out of the bill because this is going to be and expensive bill and if you're not going to get reform then you shouldn't bother with the expense.

Gergen thinks we should give the money to the insurance companies, and then come back and try to fix it later. Bad idea.

Transcript below the fold.

COOPER: David, you -- you heard Michael Moore talking about going out and competing -- or -- or going against Democrats in the next election. Do you think that's, A, viable? And, I mean, where else are Democrats going to go?

GERGEN: It may work.

But let me just say this, Anderson. Michael Moore is wonderfully provocative and great fun, but I'm mystified by his emphasis on the public option. For 75 years, the Democratic dream has been to create universal health care coverage, to make sure every American has health insurance. No Democrat has ever gotten there.

These Democrats are very likely to pass a bill with universal coverage under President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. It seems to me that's the dream. Now, the secondary issue is, who provides the coverage? Is it private health insurance companies or does the government provide the -- the -- the insurance? That's the public option question.

And the Democrats are having a hard time pushing that through, because, yes, the -- some of the polls show that 60 percent or so of Americans favor that. But, if you go state by state, you don't find that, Anderson.

And if you look at the Democrats who voted against the public option today in the Finance Committee -- there were five of them -- Chris Cillizza of "The Washington Post" has pointed out, those five Democrats all come from states that, on average, had less than 50 percent of their voters vote for Barack Obama in 2008. In other words, they're pretty red states.

The eight Democrats who voted for the public option came from states where Barack Obama got nearly 57 percent of the vote. Those are pretty Democratic states. So, they're -- they're voting their local states. A guy like Kent Conrad is very worried, in North Dakota, about a public option. COOPER: Candy, is the White House really willing to go to the mat for a public option? I mean, clearly, in the statement they made today, they basically said, yes, you know, the president thinks the public option is one of several ways to go about it and is a good way, but, you know, is interested in hearing other ways as well.

He seems to be totally willing to compromise.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. There is -- there is no way, if they send him a bill that includes forbidding insurance companies from not giving -- not covering preexisting conditions or refusing insurance for people without preexisting conditions, for government help for people who can't afford health insurance, thereby giving universal health insurance, if he had to give that up to get the public option, he's not going to do that.

I mean, he has said for some time now, well, this is what I think is good, but I'm willing to listen to what other people have to say. What the president wants, at the end of the day, at the end of this year, is a health reform bill that he can sign.

He knows he can get that without the public option. He knows that he can make a down payment, if it were, and -- and have that, and then maybe say, look, we will -- we will move onward. Maybe we will need the public option. Maybe we won't.

But he will get something, and he is not tied to this public option. And I will tell you that -- that they have said a couple of times at the White House, aides say that they're a little surprised that the public option got all -- that -- that it took center stage, because they were sort of looking at universal health care insurance, not necessarily the public option, as the do-or-die thing.

COOPER: But, David, you know, there are a lot of Democrats, Michael Moore probably among them, who would say, look, maybe this is insurance reform, but this isn't real health care reform.

GERGEN: Well, it's not real health care reform. And Republicans will tell you that.

It is -- and the -- and the president, very notably -- and I think it was in his joint session speech -- shifted the emphasis to health insurance reform. This does not -- I think what's really weak about the bill, it will provide universal coverage and it will change insurance rules, but what's weak about the bill, it really doesn't bring down costs. It doesn't do very much about preventive care, so that if you want to -- or incentives to lead a more healthy, more physically active, nutritious life.

It doesn't do very much in there. And it doesn't provide much on malpractice, frankly, for defensive medicine. So, it doesn't really change the way docs practice or hospitals practice. It's -- it's the same thing we didn't here in Massachusetts. We first did universal coverage, and now we're discovering the costs have gone up through the roof, and we're now trying to go to the next phase. And that -- that is truly true health care reform. That's going to be a new phase after this is over, I think.

COOPER: We are going to have to leave it there.

David Gergen, Candy Crowley, appreciate your time. Thanks.

GERGEN: Thank you.

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