Online controversy errupted this week after The Business Insider reported that a coalition of health insurers called “Get Health Reform Right” were offering freebies on Facebook in return for users sending a letter to Congress opposing the health overhaul bills. The offer automatically sent a message expressing “concern” after completing a survey, in order to receive virtual currency for various Facebook games.
Elsewhere, other news has The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn shuddering. The reason? “[O]n three separate occasions this week I heard two words I hadn’t heard before [about when a health reform bill will be finished]: ‘Valentine’s Day.’ For what it’s worth, I don’t think it will take that long, for reasons I’ll soon explain. But I thought I’d share that information anyway.” Health care and politics reporters may all shudder now…
Austin Frakt takes issue with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s claim that health insurers are consolidated, so they have little incentive to be more efficient. Frakt argues: “Though it is true that insurers with higher market power can charge higher premiums, they also obtain lower prices from providers. The optimal balance of power that results in the lowest premiums is not one in which insurers are weakest. In fact, insurers need a certain level of market power just to offset that of providers.”
The New York Times’ Room for Debate takes on a Medicare expansion to those ages 55-64. The editors recruited health policy power hitters from all sides of the spectrum, including Stuart Butler, Jonathan Oberlander and David Himmelstein.
But Bob Laszewski is declaring the buy-in deal “dead,” and thinks it spells trouble for the Democratic coalition: “So it is no longer the moderate Dems who are the swing votes. It is all of those liberals in the Senate and House who said they would not vote for a health bill that did not have a public option. True, the latest version in the Reid and Pelosi bill was nothing more than the neutered variety but at least the liberals had some political cover. Now they will have none.”
Time’s Amy Sullivan reports that the Catholic bishops conference is still promising to oppose health reform if the controversial Stupak amendment is dropped from the final legislation.
Finally, The Heritage Foundation has spent time lately objecting to the individual mandate, and posts a video today of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch speaking at their building on the issue: