The Kiss of Death – Sen. Arlen Specter Calls for “Expensive” Public Option in Health “Insurance” Bill

p971504731by Randy Shannon

September 15, 2009

In his message posted below Sen. Arlen Specter states his support for the hotly debated public option. The public option was originally proposed as a large inexpensive Medicare- administered plan to allow access to good healthcare for the 46 million uninsured and the millions of under-insured. As the White House slowly moves to accomodate the powerful corporate health insurance lobby, opportunists like Specter are climbing aboard offering support with qualifiers that further water down the public option.

Now the public option will only cover a few million persons. And if Specter has his way it will have to cost no less than what the private insurance companies charge. This means it will be unaffordable and offer no competition to hold down the cost of private insurance. The current legislation being considered does not control the rising insurance premiums. It does call for restraining the outlays for Medicare, even though Medicare is the most affordable and most efficient administrator of healthcare outlays.

The bill makes it a crime for an individual not to buy junk insurance. It’s no wonder that Wall Street is already celebrating the victory of health insurance reform over healthcare reform by bidding up the stock prices of their favorite insurance companies and hospitals.

In a recent Pittsburgh Post Gazette article, Congressman Jason Altmire is quoted saying that he will probably vote for the health insurance bill after he voted against it in committee. Mr. Altmire is a former lobbyist for the Federation of American (for-profit) Hospitals and UPMC.  This is another sign that the bill will favor the large corporate entities such as UPMC and hurt the working people of the 4th Congressional District.

See Specter’s message on next page…

Dear Friends:

President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night was inspirational in reaching for humanitarian purposes to cover the uninsured and underinsured with adequate health insurance coverage and, at the same time, very pragmatic in outlining a legislative proposal which will restrain costs so that those who are now insured can continue to afford insurance. 

Click below to hear my take on the President’s Address

A key point in the President’s presentation was his insistence that there not be any addition to the deficit or to the national debt, and he outlined a number of ideas where savings can be obtained.  It is important in the public option that the President’s ideas be implemented to maintain a level playing field with private insurance plans. 

I was very perturbed, frankly, about the outburst by South Carolina Representative Joseph Wilson who did not show proper respect to either the President or the Office of the Presidency. Representative Wilson has already issued an apology. In my own view, that is insufficient. I believe that there has to be consideration by the House of Representatives as to disciplinary action; that is within their purview. But being in the Chamber and seeing the outburst, it was unseemly and that kind of conduct ought not to be tolerated. 

As we move ahead on the health care debate, my office and I remain open to your suggestions and your input. I had some raucous town meetings last month, and I believe it is very important in a democracy for people to be able to express themselves. During August I traveled the state in accordance with my customary policy to visit all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and heard a lot of concerns about unemployment, the economy, global warming and immigration. So if you have any ideas, drop me a line. In a representative democracy, the more I hear from Pennsylvania’s citizens the better job I can do in the United States Senate. 

Thank you,

Arlen Specter

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