Friday, Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick held a town hall meeting in Sandpoint, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported, taking questions on a variety of topics, including health care reform.
Minnick is part of a bipartisan group that is meeting to restore a leaner, meaner reform bill that he thinks will pass.
He even predicted that his Idaho GOP counterparts could sign on.
Included in the bill is insurance reform, antitrust protection, insurance competition across state lines and malpractice reform.
“This doesn’t solve the problem of 30 million people being uninsured but it also doesn’t cost nearly what the current bill does,” Minnick said.
This would be hilarious if it wasn't so heartbreaking.
To start with, it's absurd to think that Minnick is part of any serious bipartisan health reform effort, unless he is simply talking about himself and House Republicans. It's hard to imagine Speaker Pelosi or the Democratic Caucus relying on Minnick to negotiate anything on their behalf, especially after spending the last six months trying to discredit her and other Democrats in appearance after appearance across the state.
Next, the four things Minnick mentioned as part of his "reform package"—insurance reform, antitrust protection, insurance competition across state lines and malpractice reform—are lifted virtually straight from the GOP proposal. It doesn't take a Pentagon economist to predict that Minnick's GOP counterparts would sign on to this idea; it's theirs! But the GOP proposal, in even the most generous terms, can hardly be called reform and, even by his own admission, Minnick's idea leaves tens of millions uninsured.
Perhaps Minnick should have joined the Republican Caucus at their issues conference where claims of reform were largely dismantled by President Obama in his Friday visit. Others, including the Congressional Budget Office, have looked at the proposal and come to the same conclusion. An easy to understand, point by point analysis of the GOP proposal can be read here which, in part, found this [emphasis added]:
The CBO found that the [Republican] bill would result in 3 million Americans gaining health insurance by 2019, leaving 52 million Americans uninsured, 17 percent of the population excluding unauthorized immigrants. By contrast, the Senate bill would reduce the number of uninsured by 31 million, leaving only 6 percent uninsured. The Republican bill neither expands Medicaid nor offers help to lower- or middle-income Americans who cannot afford health insurance, and thus fails to cover the uninsured. It also does less to reduce the deficit than either the House or Senate bill. The Republican bill would, according to the CBO, reduce the deficit by $68 billion over the 2010 to 2019 period. The Senate bill would reduce the federal deficit by $132 billion.
The CBO projected that the Republican bill would, by 2016, decrease premiums in the small group market by 7 to 10 percent and by 5 to 8 percent in the individual market. But these reductions would largely be the result of a decay in health benefits--the plans would have lower "actuarial value," which means fewer benefits and higher cost-sharing. And the mix of the insured would change, too: The market might become more accessible to people with lower medical risks, but only because it was becoming less accessible for people with higher medical risks.
Finally, it is highly unlikely that there is another soul in this country looking for "meaner" health care reform. The current health care system is already mean enough for millions. What Americans need is a health care system that works and Mr. Minnick, the only thing "meaner" about your "bipartisan" proposal is that it doesn't, actually, and leaves millions behind.