You've now heard it a hundred times. Various tea-party nuts, egged on by their Southern GOP senators, demanding to "just say no!" to Government-run health care. These people are so out of touch with the health care debate that it is hard to take them seriously, and I suspect that they are not being taken very seriously by anyone in Washington. Everyone in Washington knows that "government-run health care" was taken off the table at the outset by President Obama (to the chagrin of many on the left who wanted a single-payer system). This is the ultimate straw man.
All that is on the table now is a system to achieve universal *private* health insurance with an option of a not-for-profit government plan being made available (with subsidies) to those who cannot afford private health insurance. Republicans are trying to use this issue to fire up their rock-hard loony base, and are doing a good job of it, largely because it's not all that hard to dangle red meat in front of rabid dogs and get a reaction. Seriously, it's the equivalent of showing torture photos at the DNC (sadly, those photos don't get the same reaction from these Republicans).
But do they take it seriously in DC? No. The serious work is being done in committees now. In fact, the expectation that some bill will pass explains why there is so much spotlight on the committees. Rahm Emanuel will make sure that something goes through on a reconciliation vote (only 51 votes needed) at least, to claim a victory and deny the Republicans their "Waterloo" moment. In fact, the outlines of the plan are pretty well known, even if not well known to the public because of the Republican lies (and I use the word "lie" without reservation, since that's what's going on - and because the press is an easy target for lies because it lost the ability to call bullshit on anyone during Iran-Contra).
- An individual mandate where each person is required to obtain health insurance of one kind or another
- Subsidies for people earning less than about 300% of the poverty line
- An employer mandate for most businesses over a certain size to provide the insurance
- A generous exemption for small businesses from this requirement
- An option to avoid having to do business with private insurance companies whether in the form of some "insurance exchange" or a public option that is more or less the ability to buy into medicare
- Funding for the subsidies will come from some form of taxation on very high income groups or very expensive private insurance plans
- Reform of private insurance to require something like "guaranteed issue" - meaning you have to cover all applicants regardless of medical history and cannot rescind coverage for sick people based on technical defects later found in applications.
What Democrats need to do, since the foregoing is to complicated to explain to Teabaggers, but since Teabaggers get the handed mike too easily by CNN looking for a story, is the following:
- Call "bullshit" and "liar" every time someone uses the phrase "government-run health care" to describe this bill. Do so angrily and provocatively. Make McConnell and Kyl squirm. Call McCain a liar to his face and make him go redfaced. Tell him he has no honor if he keeps spreading lies. Take the gloves off.
- Make the moral case in stark terms that every child needs to be able to see a doctor, and that voting "no" on this plan is immoral. There is a great moral imperative behind providing health care to the uninsured. Talk about every family that has become uninsured and can't pay for needed health care. Talk about bankruptcy and the fear of losing your job. Say that we can put an end to this. that we need to. This is a moral issue.
- Stop talking so much about how to pay for the plan. Every time some interviewer asks for that, interrupt them and say "The important thing is to make sure everyone gets health insurance. The payment issue is a smokescreen raised by Republicans who are trying to avoid having to take a moral stand on this."
- Make sure the everyone knows this is about YOU versus YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY (funding the Republican party).