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Schumer Regrets ACA Push; Progressives Should Demand More, Not Less

Senator John Thune chirps mindlessly over Senator Chuck Schumer's supposed regret over the push for the Affordable Care Act.

The only thing we Democrats have to regret about pushing for the Affordable Care Act in our best window of opportunity is that we committed the very sin that Rick Weiland and Elizabeth Warren and other progressives are clamoring to rectify: we gave in to big money and the Republican narrative. We didn't go far enough.

We didn't fight hard enough for a public option to increase competition and lower costs.

We didn't fight hard enough to rein in the power of private insurers, who are still coming between patients and their doctors and playing death panels.

We didn't fight hard enough to lead a conversation on the merits of a single-payer system, a solution that several industrialized countries have adopted without falling into the grip of Stalinism... and a solution that one candidate for South Dakota Democratic Party chair advocated in 2012.

Regrets about the ACA? Yeah, you bet. We regret that we compromised and adopted RomneyCare and didn't fight harder for a more comprehensive solution.


  1. Bill Fleming 2014.12.05

    At a minimum, there should have been a public option. Exactly as per Mr. Weiland's suggestion. My beefs about Obama's first congress are that they didn't address immigration reform, didn't bust the big banks' chops, didn't address climate change and alternative energy issues, and didn't do any big, bold infrastructure projects. Of course that's 20/20 hindsight. Who knew the next two iterations of Congress were going to be so totally impossible to work with?

  2. tara volesky 2014.12.05

    Comprehensive forgot to mention Mike Myers....the push up guy who fought big insurance and healthcare monopolies for years. Will be interesting to see if Mike gets invited to speak Dec 12-13 at the central committee in Chamberlain. He could really do a lot to help the party as an outsider. Or is this going to be exclusively for Democrats only?

  3. jerry 2014.12.05

    The first order of the day regarding healthcare would be to give John Thune and the rest of the zero's of his party, an enema. They are so full of it that up is down and, well you know the drill. The fact is health care costs are down. They are down to the point where they were when we first started to keep records on it. The stink that John Thune and company want to raise is more white noise, nothing more. That is why a strong enema delivered by a big ole ornery nurse will help them think the truth.

  4. jerry 2014.12.05

    As far as the public option goes, you must crawl before you can walk and then break into a run. This will happen, but first things first. Medicare was not such an easy sell either, remember Saint Ronnie bitching and moaning about it when the money was good for him. He became president and just gushed like a star gazing teen over it.

    The Democrats in the majority at the time of passing were not all Democrats. We should be grateful for what we have and then go to work to make it stronger. Why let a stinker like John Thune try to steal the thunder. Take a listen to this bozo head and tell me this is the best South Dakota can do, I don't think so.

  5. Steve Sibson 2014.12.05

    "We regret that we compromised and adopted RomneyCare and didn't fight harder for a more comprehensive solution."

    I agree that we adopted RomneyCare. Both political parties wanted it. And we already have public options...Medicaid, Medicare, and Indian Health. And it is public money that is subsidizing Obamacare for those who qualify.

    There is no way that the wealthy rulers will let the people take back the money without a bloody war. So forget about the "comprehensive solution".

  6. tara volesky 2014.12.05

    They need to go after the politicians that support insurance Ceo's over Medicare for all. That's the only solution that will work for the people at an affordable cost. But, both parties are bankrolled by big insurance. Just check out all of the other industrialized counties that are way ahead of the US in health care cost and care.

  7. Wayne B. 2014.12.05

    I'm perfectly fine with the idea of a public option competing with the private insurance companies... but I don't understand why private insurance companies shouldn't be allowed to compete nation-wide as well

  8. tara volesky 2014.12.05

    I agree Wayne, I think there is a party divide, where as the majority of Democrats support big and fewer insurance companies and the tea party along with most Republicans support a bigger pool of insurance companies. Unfortunately there is not much difference between the two parties when it comes to Insurance Companies controlling your health care. The Democrats would have been better off not caving to big insurance and just stuck with the public option.

  9. WayneF 2014.12.05

    Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid were not perfect at the outset. It took years of bi-partisan legislation to fine-tune them into programs that truly serve Americans. The Affordable Care Act also needs to be adapted.

    I like Jerry's idea about giving Thune and his ilk "a strong enema delivered by a big ole ornery nurse." Doubt that that will happen or, if it did, it would do much good. Thune's a tool. Watch Rounds do the same thing.

    I gave up on Noem long ago.

    So sad that this delegation is the best we can do.

  10. jerry 2014.12.05

    Personally, I look for the republicans, under the direction of big banks, wall street and the insurance lobby, to make changes to the ACA. First off would the the subsidy fix that would take the issue out of the Roberts Supreme Court. This idea is being pursued by a deal maker by the name of Trent Lott and I think even bozo's like Thune and NOem would be able to be bribed enough to make that occur. Regarding Rounds, we already know his way of the acceptance of dirty money so he would be a shoo in. The appropriate money changers want this to continue so this will be a behind the scenes push to make it happen before it reaches the court. Schumer is a Democrat by name, but he is Wall Street in all actions. He is signaling that he would work with republicans to make a deal.

  11. Jenny 2014.12.05

    I am still glad heathcare reform was the main focus. It was long overdue and it sure as hell wouldn't have passed with a GOP majority these last years of his presidency, and then it would have been another 20 years before it would have even been brought back to the table. So we learned from the GOP and did it our way on our terms and got 'er done, imperfections and all.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.05

    Wayne B, help me out: I've been skittish about private insurers racing to the bottom if allowed to sell across state lines, but Medicare seems to work fine as a national plan. Does the ACA provide minimum coverage requirements that would prevent a race to the bottom among private insurers? Would competition with Medicare E further prevent a race to the bottom in the quality of private coverage?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.05

    Jenny, I agree that focusing on health care was good. If we hadn't done that, if we had focused on a reform of similar magnitude, wouldn't the GOP have villainized that grand success as well and dug their heels in? If we wanted to do something big, and if we were only going to get one really big thing done, and if that one big action was going to have political consequences no matter what, what did we have to lose?

  14. jerry 2014.12.05

    One of the reasons we here in South Dakota do not see lesser premiums regarding the ACA is for one reason, the lack of in state competition. We still have 3 players in the Marketplace for 2015 and that means that they really do not compete as much as you would expect if there were more in the pot. Be that as it may, this report is very encouraging.

    As you can see, by having the plans involved controlled by individual states, make the marketplace very competitive. If you were to have this as a national marketplace like Medicare, then it would be Medicare and we could all sing those campfire songs without being homeless because of a lack of health insurance. Then there would be a race to the top with quality health insurance at affordable premiums in the $200.00 range. That would include the $104.00 each month that folks over 65 pay for their Part B Medicare. The under 65 crowd could afford premiums from $20.00 a month to $90.00 depending on income.

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.05

    Bill said, "My beefs about Obama's first congress are that they didn't address immigration reform, didn't bust the big banks' chops, didn't address climate change and alternative energy issues, and didn't do any big, bold infrastructure projects."

    Um, yes. Exactly.

  16. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.05

    And because Medicare Part E = Medicare for Everyone.

  17. Roger Cornelius 2014.12.05

    Today's job report included 320,000 gains putting 2014 on track with the least record set in 1999, it has taken President Obama 6 years to accomplish that feat.
    Sometimes we forget all that the president had on his plate when he took office and had the Democrats had control of both houses. Just a quick recap of the problems the president faced; a crashed economy, the auto industry on the verge of extinction, a promise to Americans to reform healthcare and a Republican opposition to everything the president wanted to accomplish. Where would immigration reform fit in the list of priorities for the first two years?
    Now that the Republicans have control of both houses, immigration reform will be slow, but I predict that now that the president has congress on the ropes, they will have to act.
    The president has tossed the immigration gauntlet down and the Republicans have picked it up. It makes me wonder if this was President Obama's intent all along, force the Republicans to act.

  18. Paul 2014.12.06

    Who did Democrats compromise with? No Republicans voted for it.

    You can blame the reason that there are only three insurers in SD on that fact that Obamacare is massive insurance regulation bill. Now smaller insurers (like the one I had, was happy with, and was told I could keep) will not be able to compete with the big companies. As more regulations descend upon the industry, even the big companies will drop out as prices skyrocket. Thanks Democrats!

  19. Owen 2014.12.06

    Well Paul I benefited big time from the ACA. I was able to get insurance that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to get due to a preexisting condition.
    Yes there are only 3 companies in the exchange and there are many plans within in company at different prices. It depends on what you can afford.
    The reason there are only 3 companies is because Sanford and Avery dominate the insurance business in this state. You're sprouting the crap Rounds did. Insurance companies were leaving this state long before the ACA.
    So yes thanks Democrats and thanks for nothing Republicans

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.06

    Paul, Democrats compromised from the start, taking single-payer and public option off the table before they were on and adopting the Heritage/Romney plan. The GOP would have voted for this plan if Bush had brought it. They chose to vote against even this compromise for political purposes. Thanks for nothing, Republicans!

    And remember, Paul: the ACA just saved SD over $9 million by getting rid of the need for our high risk pool.

  21. Tim 2014.12.06

    Ignorant of the facts, Paul makes a great point for us, it's this kind of ignorance we have to fight. Republicans have been pumping the electorate so full of BS for so long it will take a huge effort to prove to them they need to pull the wool blinders off so they can see.

  22. Tim 2014.12.06

    One more thing about the alleged lack of compromise, when a party comes out a couple days after the 08 election and states "Our sole purpose will be to make sure this is a one term president", just how much compromise was there going to be.

  23. Tim 2014.12.06

    Details Paul details, how quickly they forget.

  24. jerry 2014.12.06

    The governor that got "rid" of all of those insurance companies Paul, was Janklow. He dared to make them pay 80% of their take for paying claims. When those insurance companies threatened to leave, Janklow held the door open for them. That idea was a good one and is now the federal law throughout the land.

  25. leslie 2014.12.06

    paul-such a trite, misleading statement that no compromise with repubs occured when in fact "HUNDREDS of republican amendments were including in the committee mark-up process" of ACA.

  26. leslie 2014.12.06

    on july 1, 2013 RCJ editor rassmussen said the same thing paul, misleading the public. Zach Crago responded and again on October 16, 2012 RCJ columnist sanborn repeated the ridiculous, misleading, republican sound bite. we wonder how republicans win over and over?

  27. leslie 2014.12.06

    2012, i meant, sorry.

  28. Donald Pay 2014.12.06

    I disagree that progressives didn't push hard for the public option. We did, but much of the DC Democratic establishment, the Wall Street boys, Blue Dog Democrats and all of the Republicans were lined up against it.

    It would have been nice to get a nationwide public option or single payer system but the ACA does allow any state to institute their own system. (Hey, South Dakota, you just went partway with that with the initiative you passed this year. Now use the initiative to go all the way to a single payer or public option system.)

    Shumer seems to forget his own role in this. Shumer was a Senate leader. He actually crafted and pushed a public option amendment. If he didn't want to deal with health care, he didn't have to. If he wanted to deal with other issues, he could have.

    And I think most progressive agree that Democrats should have done more for the middle class. We were urging that. That doesn't mean they shouldn't have done the ACA. It means that DC Democrats and elected officials need to step up and do what's right, not what the political elite want you to do.

    At least more people are covered now, and the cost of health care coverage is stabilizing. Without a public option, you still have to watch the insurance companies and medical billing like a hawk, however. They will screw you every way they can. If you are getting screwed over, don't pay their bills and turn it over to the insurance commissioner.

  29. jerry 2014.12.06

    Be very careful about not paying the bills. Remember that the credit collection companies are mostly owned by the hospitals. If you go bankrupt, your medical bills may not be discharged as it is now the norm to disregard the rulings of the bankruptcy courts and still go after unpaid bills to the providers.

    The best practice is to go to the billing department of the provider and request the reasons for the discrepancies. Then contact your insurance provider with the same request. Maybe ask for a write down. If still not satisfied, then go to the division of insurance. At least they will know that you are not ignoring them.

  30. leslie 2014.12.07

    jerry- appreciate your prognostications.

    similarly, NYT reports the 27 republican AGs, plus their governors, are working with like-minded, secret energy firms and their lobbyists for 2015 truncation of EPA environmental regulation. the two year onslaught begins. omg. we lost a big one this election.

  31. JeniW 2014.12.07

    Paul, a question that I have asked several times, yet no one has answered:

    The healthcare and insurance issues did not suddenly appear when Obama became president. They had been issues for years, including those with pre-existing conditions not being able to purchase health insurance.

    What stopped the past presidents and the legislators who were/are in office before Obama took office from dealing with those issues?

    You can blame Obama all that you want to, but IMO, the blame falls on all the past presidents and legislators who failed to deal with those issues. If they had dealt with those issues constructively, we might not be where we are now.

  32. leslie 2014.12.07

    lemme put this another way:

    27 state Attorneys General are creating a super Republican national "law firm" AND at the same time bestowing their "special solicitude" granted states in federal courts to corporations for better standing to sue and less chance of dismissal, with unlimited dark money, mostly energy money for sponsors APetroleumI, Devon and Triad Energy, DEPA, Continental Oil, Okla. G&E, Conoco Phillips, Alpha Coal, AEP Coal); to also join in corporate litigation against EPA, BLM, immigration, ACA subsidy, and Dodd-Frank; and finally as demonstrated, purchasingmost of $16 million in TV ads for state races where repub AGs were threatened.

    ALEC-type pro-fossil fuel type legislation and confidential energy lobbying by and thru AG offices is NOW starring rising republican star, 46 year old 8 year state rep. and failed Lt. Gov. candidate Oklahoma's AG Scott Pruitt, newly anointed by 81 year old Va. coal proponent former AG A.P. Miller and, Geo. Mason (Koch Bros.) University. After a 5 year law practice he switched to owning a AAA ball club. This boy is on the fast track to easy money.

    Bow deeply Jackley and Daugaard!

    Repubs are pulling out all the plugs.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    JeniW, I'd contend it was the insurance companies' profit margins that stopped previous Presidents and Congresses from passing serious reform. The powers that be liked the status quo. They preferred not covering high-risk patients. The insurers would not support reform until they had to, and even then only when Democrats were willing to offer them a solution (the insurance mandate) that would preserve their profitability.

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