You can see this as well at my blog:
Letter from Mr. Wayne Manson of Old Post Road (see his letter and my response below)
Mr. Manson’s Letter:
To the editor:
Just a couple of corrections to Sean O’Reilly’s letter, last week. I followed the congressional debate very closely and the way I see it, Congressman Lynch got this one right.
First, much to his credit Congressman Lynch did vote to strip away the anti-trust exemption that allows Health insurers to operate as monopolies, which is one major cause of high health care costs.
The Senate bill that is supported by Mr. O’Reilly restored the anti-trust exemption that reduces competition and increases costs.
Secondly, Lynch actually supported and voted for a basic public option in the House version of Health Care Reform bill. That limited public option would have allowed states to offer a no-frills low-cost health care plan to compete with big insurance companies thereby forcing prices down. Of course, again, the Senate bill that Mr. O’Reilly supports stripped out the public option.
And thirdly, the House bill placed the Health Care surcharge on couples making over $1,000,000 per year.
But the Senate bill supported by Mr. O’Reilly put a 40 percent tax on people with “expensive” health care plans.
On this point Mr. O’Reilly seems to miss the point. Because the Senate bill doesn’t rein in costs on health care, by 2018 when the bill is phased in thousands of families will have exceeded the threshold for so-called “Cadillac” plans. In fact, that is how the expansion in coverage is paid for. As an area daily newspaper recently reported many Massachusetts city and town employee health care plans are already at or near the surcharge tax threshold. As the rate of health care costs continue to increase between now and 2018, many, many more middle income families will be hit with that tax.
Lastly, I too thought it was a good idea that we can carry our kids on our health plans (if you have one) until age 26. Then I looked into it and found out that the new law also allows insurance companies to increase your insurance premium by 20 to 30 percent to pay for that privilege. After spending $1 trillion dollars, you call this reform?
Mr. O’Reilly is partly right. We do need to send a message to the incumbents on Sept. 14. And the message to Congressman Lynch should be “job well done.”
Old Post Road
To The Editor:
I appreciate and respect Mr. Manson’s response to my letter concerning Congressman Lynch and his vote on health insurance reform. I share his disappointment that the final bill did not include a public option and that the bill opted for the excise “Cadillac” tax as a source of revenue instead of the surcharge on families making more than 1 million dollars. However I fear that Mr. Manson is, in regard to the health insurance legislation, making the perfect the enemy of the good and giving Congressman Lynch too much credit for taking a principled stand when in reality the Congressman is engaged in the worst type of cynical politics.
Taking the second point first, Mr. Manson claims that the Congressman voted against the bill because it did not contain a public option. Mr. Manson and Rep. Lynch point to his Yes vote for the House bill, which contained the public option, as evidence that he is a supporter of this policy.
I offer an alternate rationale and evidence for the Congressman’s vote. Representative Lynch got scared after the election of Scott Brown and as a result withdrew his support for health insurance reform. The House vote took place before the Brown election. Leading up to the House vote health care activists across the 9th Congressional District lobbied Congressman Lynch relentlessly to support the public option with no success. This is why, as politico.com reported on September 8, 2009:
A longtime advocate of labor interests, Lynch wasn’t even invited to the state’s leading labor breakfast this weekend because of his skepticism towards the proposed public option component of health insurance legislation.
Notably, Reps. Michael Capuano, Ed Markey and state Attorney General Martha Coakley all loudly expressed support for the public option at these same events. Lynch’s hesitation – combined with his past record – means that he’ll face a tough challenge to win the nomination.
The activists who lobbied Mr. Lynch on the public option to no avail are absolutely flabbergasted that the Congressman is suddenly the only one of the 435 members of the House of Representatives who voted to kill the bill over the public option. I find it hard to believe that Congressman Lynch went from being one of the Massachusetts delegation’s most reluctant public option supporters to the most hardened advocate in the entire nation. A more plausible theory is that Mr. Lynch is, like so many politicians, trying to have it both ways.
I despaired along with Mr. Manson as the health care bill was ground down by the legislative process. While I watched this unfold I was reminded of two classic quotes from Otto von Bismarck: “Politics is the art of the possible” and “Laws are like sausages – it is best not to see them being made.” No bill is ever perfect and despite its flaws we must not lose site of the fact that every American will have access to decent affordable health care whether or not they lose their job. This is the most important domestic policy victory since Medicare and it almost did not happen because of Congressman Lynch.
There will be opportunities to improve this bill. In fact, legislation to remove the antitrust legislation has already been filed. It is important not to forget that Social Security initially denied access to minorities and women and Medicare did not provide prescription drug benefits.
Democrats face the probable loss of at least six Senate seats and twenty to thirty House seats in the upcoming November midterm elections. I’m unclear of when Mr. Manson believes there would have been be an opportunity to pass more progressive legislation that includes the public option and removal of the antitrust exemption. It took sixteen years after President Clinton’s failure on health insurance reform to get another opportunity to try reform again. We could not have afforded to wait sixteen more.
Mr. Manson argued that one of the bill’s most popular provisions, the ability to keep children on your plan until age 26, is a mirage because insurers can simply hike up your premiums to cover the additional costs. Recently released regulations concerning this provision by the IRS, Treasury and Health and Human Services Departments explicitly state that this practice is in violation of the new health care law:
(e) Examples. The rules of paragraph (d) of this section are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1. (i) Facts. A group health plan offers a choice of self-only or family health coverage. Dependent coverage is provided under family health coverage for children of participants who have not attained age 26. The plan imposes an additional premium surcharge for children who are older than age 18.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 1, the plan violates the requirement of paragraph (d) of this section because the plan varies the terms for dependent coverage of children based on age.
This statement from the federal agencies enforcing the new health insurance law states that your insurance plan can not increase your premiums once your child turns eighteen.
It is unconscionable that at a time when so many people are worried about losing their job and the health benefits employment provides, Congressman Lynch chose to cast a vote that he believes will save his job. During this Great Recession this is the only job I believe we should actively try and take away from somebody. That is why I hope Walpole Democrats and Independents will vote in the September 14th primary for Mac D’Alessandro over Congressman Lynch.