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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Grassley specifies objections to public health care option

By admin | 06.05.09 | 4:43 pm

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has emerged as the key Republican in the senate on health care reform because of his position as Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, published an op-ed today that enumerates his objections to including a government-run insurance option in broader health care reform efforts.  But nestled in the brief column are two glaring contradictions.

Of the “pitfalls” of a public health insurance option, Grassley writes:

A government-run option would have bureaucrats in Washington setting prices and determining which treatments are covered. It would cause 119 million Americans to shift from private coverage to the government plan, according to experts, and put America on the path toward an entirely government-run health care system. Doctors and hospitals already are paid less by Medicare and Medicaid, and they make up the difference by passing the cost onto their other patients.

If more people entered government plans, even more doctors would stop seeing Medicare, Medicaid and public plan patients. Employers would stop offering coverage because they could tell employees to get coverage from the government. Eventually, the government plan would overtake the market, and we’d have a Canadian-style system but without the ability that Canadians have to go to the United States for innovative treatments for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

Setting aside the canard that Canadians have worse health care than their southern neighbors, Grassley’s objections seem to stem from the fear that a public health insurance option would be so desirable that Americans would drop their private plans in droves if one became available.

If that’s true, then the second part of his argument, that a public health insurance system would lead to inadequate health care run by “bureaucrats in Washington,” doesn’t make much sense.  If a public option is inherently bad, why would so many people gravitate to it? (Don’t most people see their private insurance companies as giant, coldhearted bureaucracies anyway?)

But that’s not the only contradiction in Grassley’s piece.  Two paragraphs earlier, he writes, “We need stronger rules on insurers, such as requiring them to cover people and preventing higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.”  Wouldn’t that entail the federal government fixing prices and determining what medical conditions are covered?  The implementation of that proposal, like all other federal proposals, would require the work of much-maligned “bureaucrats in Washington.”

Though Grassley’s strong words seem to imply that he has made up his mind already, advocates of a public health insurance option might find at least one reason to remain optimistic: if a public plan could be crafted to avoid the sorts of pitfalls that Grassley considers inevitable (if, for instance, the public plan were administered by a quasi-non-governmental organization and required to reimburse providers at higher rates than Medicare and Medicaid), would he still have grounds to object?

Comments

  • aheff

    You are missing the point. The public plan would have such an unfair advantage (cost shift, tax-payer subsidized, unerpayment to docs and hospitals) that it will be (artificially) significantly less expensive than private sector. This is the trojam horse to single payer.

    • http://twitter.com/eean Ian Monroe

      I would be OK if the public option was self-funded for most people. The point isn't to provide health insurance subsidized from other sources to the general public (maybe some subsidies to help the uninsured, but obviously private health care isn't worrying about competition from them).

      The biggest advantage of switching to the public option is that if the “Washington bureaucrats” give you some bullshit you could call up your congressperson and complain. Having some democracy-provided oversight is much more effective then current situation. Capitalism doesn't work when no one can pick what health insurance they have (since their employers pick, or if they're self-employed once they have a problem its too late to switch).

  • http://twitter.com/eean Ian Monroe

    I would be OK if the public option was self-funded for most people. The point isn't to provide health insurance subsidized from other sources to the general public (maybe some subsidies to help the uninsured, but obviously private health care isn't worrying about competition from them).

    The biggest advantage of switching to the public option is that if the “Washington bureaucrats” give you some bullshit you could call up your congressperson and complain. Having some democracy-provided oversight is much more effective then current situation. Capitalism doesn't work when no one can pick what health insurance they have (since their employers pick, or if they're self-employed once they have a problem its too late to switch).

  • aheff

    You are missing the point. The public plan would have such an unfair advantage (cost shift, tax-payer subsidized, underpayment to docs and hospitals) that it will be (artificially) significantly less expensive than private sector. Again, its not that it is truly less expensive or better, but it has such an unfair advantage. Guess what? Small to mid size employers will dump their employees onto the public plan, and voila, from this public plan we now have single payer. And do we really want to government running health care??? We cant afford government run care right now-how in the world can we afford it for all?

  • http://twitter.com/eean Ian Monroe

    I would be OK if the public option was self-funded for most people. The point isn't to provide health insurance subsidized from other sources to the general public (maybe some subsidies to help the uninsured, but obviously private health care isn't worrying about competition from them).

    The biggest advantage of switching to the public option is that if the “Washington bureaucrats” give you some bullshit you could call up your congressperson and complain. Having some democracy-provided oversight is much more effective then current situation. Capitalism doesn't work when no one can pick what health insurance they have (since their employers pick, or if they're self-employed once they have a problem its too late to switch).

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