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Liberal Blog Buzz: Opt-ins and Op-eds


From NBC's Ali Weinberg
As First Read reported this morning, the so-called Gang of 10, of liberal and moderate Senate Democrats reached a compromise on a health-care plan. Liberal bloggers and left-leaning writers have been analyzing the publicized aspects of the proposal, and are offering plenty of questions of their own.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein comments on the agreement, which entails nonprofit plans run by the Office of Personnel Management and Medicare plans available for 55 to 64-year-olds. Klein: "[N]ational non-profits and direct competition between Medicare and insurers is more promising than the compromised public plans that succeeded the initial policy idea. In fact, it's like we split the strong public option into two parts."

More: "The national non-profits are not exactly like, but not that far from, the compromised public plan in the House version of the bill. They won't be publicly run, but with the OPM regulating them tightly and carefully choosing which offerings are accepted into the market, the impact might not be that different in practice... Meanwhile, the Medicare buy-in lets people in the broader insurance market see what national bargaining power can do for individual premiums."

But Klein also offers a caveat: "Now, will the deal hold when Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe get a look at it? Stay tuned for more on that..."

The New Republic health writer Jonathan Cohn notes that the agreement must also face the Congressional Budget Office for scoring. "And if the numbers look good, sources on Capitol Hill say, the group will probably agree on the proposal. But, as always, that's a big 'if.' And further modifications are entirely possible."

Cohn seems to share Klein's cautious optimism about the compromise, writing, "This may not be the sort of progress public option advocates wanted. But, again, this approach to the public option controversy actually has a lot to recommend it--if it's done right."

He poses 10 questions about the aspects of the proposal that have been publicized so far, including the participants in and form of Medicare (will 55-to-64-year-olds take from the same pool as the over-65 population?), the plan's administration (how to expand the OPM?) and the conditions of the proposed trigger mechanism.

Writing at ThinkProgress' Wonk Room, Igor Volsky makes a point also raised by Cohn: "[T]he [Medicare] buy-in could also extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by bringing in premium dollars from younger beneficiaries and reduce Medicare's spending for those individuals after they turned 65."

Volsky also cites a "CBO analysis of a similar Medicare buy-in for uninsured Americans between 62 and 64 -- that group would have to pay a premium plus an administrative fee of 5 percent -- "the annual premium for single coverage in 2011 would be about $7,600 (that figure includes the cost of Part D coverage)."

Balloon Juice's John Cole remarks on Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)'s defense of his amendment to the House health care bill that would expand current prohibitions on federal funding for abortion. In Stupak's New York Times op-ed, he writes "The language in our amendment is completely consistent with the Hyde Amendment, which in the 33 years since its passage has done nothing to inhibit private health insurers from offering abortion coverage."

Cole writes that Stupak "must be feeling some heat" if he is writing an editorial--espcially, perhaps, for a newspaper which probably has a wide pro-choice readership.

Sarah Palin's Washington Post op-ed on climate change, which First Read linked to this morning, also has the liberal blogosphere up in (cyber) arms. 

Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog calls Palin's article "absurd. She doesn't believe in climate change, which is no surprise. It is, after all, science-based. A couple years ago, I was in Alaska on vacation. Almost every Alaskan I met described changes in teh environment because of global warming. But, not Sarah."

DougJ at Balloon Juice writes that "my brain is broken" after quoting Palin's paragraph that recommends the President boycott the Copenhagen climate summit.