The Public Option Lives, It Lives! Rural Hospitals Anxious

By October 14, 2009Health Care

The Senate Finance Committee’s approval of the framework of a structure of a plan for health care reform legislation Tuesday is just a step, one step:

From TPM Live Wire, “Schumer To Reid: The Fate Of The Public Option May Be In Your Hands,” a quote of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “It’s very important to see if a public option is in the bill that Leader Reid puts together. He hasn’t yet made up his mind, but many of us who believe in the public option are urging him to do so, and so far we’re getting heard.”

From CBS News, “Snowe: Public Option the Breaking Point,” quoting Sen. Olympia Snowe’s  interview on the CBS “Early Show” today: “Because I prefer in utilizing the private sector as we do in this legislation that doesn’t include a public option. I think the government would have a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace against private insurers…But at the same time, I want to make sure the insurance industry performs and that’s why we eliminate and prohibit many egregious practices.”

And, outside the Beltway, from The Grand Forks Herald, “N.D. health system CEOs: ‘Public plan’ with Medicare rates threatens hospitals“:

If uninsured and/or underinsured individuals in North Dakota were covered by a public plan at Medicare rates, this would add a total of $16 million to MeritCare, Altru, Medcenter and Trinity’s revenues.

But if 10 percent of individuals who have private coverage switched to a public plan, this would result in a loss of $34 million in revenues to the big four hospitals. If 30 percent switched, this would result in $101 million in decreased revenues to the hospitals.

This gap will continue to grow as Washington cuts in Medicare payments uniformly throughout the nation.

In North Dakota, a million dollars is still real money.

Seconds ago on Fox News, Sen. Chuck Grassley warned that the public option still has broad support from the Democrats — “that’s where they want to go.” He is especially worried about its effects on rural hospitals.

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