A while back I fired off some grouchy missive to the Congresswoman's office about her position on health insurance reform. On the 16th, I received a reply from the Congresswoman's office. SHS says she digs the following big points of the reform passed in March:
- ending rescission and pre-existing condition exclusions
- extending kids' coverage on mom and dad's policy until age 26
- creating health insurance exchanges (more transparency and competition)
- reauthorizing of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
SHS criticizes the watering-down of the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans. The Senate excluded more plans and delayed implementation of the tax until 2018. SHS appears to say she wanted a stiffer tax sooner to reduce overutilization and help pay for the reforms. In other words (pay attention, Kristi), SHS wanted more taxes on rich people with Cadillac insurance plans.
SHS says she wanted a tougher Independent Medicare Advisory Board. Some observers say this board as enacted still has some teeth. SHS, however, indicates she wanted more and again cites a delay in implementation (this time until 2015). Again, SHS wanted more government clout in health care sooner.
SHS includes some niggly-porky bits in her rationalization for opposing the bill: absence of inflation indexing from the Medicare Hospital Insurance Tax, increasing Medicaid costs for South Dakota, the medical device tax that South Dakota employer 3M doesn't like, and the inclusion of student loan reform in the reconciliation bill (SHS still prefers the Rube Goldberg system of federal subsidy for private profiteers).
But on two big points, SHS comes out sounding like she wanted a tougher health insurance reform bill, with stronger government action, the kind of liberal position that I think health care needs. That's certainly not the narrative I was hearing last year or even in SHS's most recent ad. Was I just not paying attention? Could the SHS narrative on health care be more complex than I in my Kucinichian froth recognized? Or might SHS be getting ready to wage the fight I want her to fight?
Related: President Obama sends a surprise video to Netroots Nation and tells liberal bloggers to "keep making your voices heard; to keep holding me accountable; to keep up the fight." Yes sir, Mr. President! Now about passing single-payer and repealing the Patriot Act....