Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More on How Matheson's Constituents Would Benefit From Health Care Reform

Political scientist challenges the Matheson/Blue Dog rhetoric on health care reform obstruction and the policies they oppose that would benefit rural communities (h/t Mike Lillis).

[...] Yale University political scientist Jacob Hacker makes a good case today why the policies on which the Blue Dog Democrats have hinged their opposition are the same provisions that would most help the lawmakers’ constituents.

Increasing rates to doctors and hospitals in rural areas, for example, would “fail to address excessive payments to hospitals and specialists that private insurers say they have lacked the leverage to bring down,” Hacker argues in The Washington Post.

Offering public plan rates at close to Medicare levels while giving doctors and hospitals the choice of accepting them — as the House legislation does — is a way to test the market. If providers accept the rates, as the CBO projects they will, the Blue Dogs will get what they want: lower costs. If not, the bill in the House contains provisions for adjusting the rates, including nearly $10 billion to raise rates in rural areas if an independent study determines that higher rates are needed.

Then there’s the issue of the government-backed health care plan to compete with private insurers. Many Blue Dogs have joined Republicans in arguing that the public option would have the unfair backing of the federal government, thereby threatening the private companies very existence. Yet, after decades competing only against each other, these companies have left more than 45 million Americans without any coverage at all. That trend, Hacker maintains, is indication enough that the public option is necessary as “a backup plan” for those who can’t afford private insurance.

A public health plan will be particularly vital for Americans in the rural areas that many Blue Dogs represent. These areas feature both limited insurance competition and shockingly large numbers of residents without adequate coverage. By providing a backup plan that competes with private insurers, the public plan will broaden coverage and encourage private plans to reduce their premiums.

Not that all the Blue Dogs are on the same page on the public plan issue. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) told CNN this morning that he supports the public plan, as long as it would slow the growth of health care spending, which threatens to topple the entire economy in just a few decades.
Matheson will be on Neal Cavuto's Fox News show today at 2:30pm (via Matheson's twitter feed) explaining the Blue Dog / GOP opposition to health care reform with a public option. I'll be live blogging. It will be biased. JMBell has video from Matheson's previous visits to Fox to perpetuate the GOP talking points on health care reform.

So proud, Jim. So proud.

UPDATE: More humorous hate mail from the Pro-Jim crowd. For the record, I'm Pro-Jim too. He's our best representative, and he normally casts reasoned votes I can support, especially when it comes to the environment and open-government issues. In fairness, I want to point that out. That said, he's not selling me on his opposition to health care reform, and all the data implies he's trampling on his constituents to tow the GOP line on this one. We shouldn't be afraid to criticize him when he falters, "D" or no "D." Bad positions can happen in either party, and Jim's position on this one is really bad.


  1. If Matheson is willing to undermine health care reform with a public option for those of us in UT-2 who aren't as fortunate enough as to have the health care Jim himself enjoys, he just as well switch parties. This is an issue that defines the Democratic Party, and Matheson is trying to drag it under the Fox News bus.

  2. In addition, Utah residents are generally younger, so they won't be subject to rationing as much as those from other, old states. Win-win for Utah!

  3. Ah, Craig. We can always rely on you to not read further into an issue than the Fox News anecdotes. :)