First, Senate Democrats struck a deal on the public option that included a Medicare buy-in and a requirement that 90% of the money insurance companies received from premiums be spent on health care. The agreement was directly negotiated by three of the four Senate Democrats who said they would filibuster health care reform with a public option: Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, and Ben Nelson. Joe Lieberman had also been vocally supportive of the Medicare buy-in.
Next, Joe Lieberman stabs everyone in the back, and declares he is opposed to the compromise, and will filibuster it.
Shortly thereafter, Rahm Emanuel meets with Harry Reid, and tells him to cave to Lieberman.
Now, Senate Democrats have done just that. The Medicare-buy-in compromise is gone (hat-tip: Political Wire):
Senate Democrats emerged from a special caucus meeting Monday night determined to pass a health-care bill by Christmas -- but without the Medicare buy-in plan that liberals had sought as an alternative to a government insurance option.
It is likely that nothing will happen to Lieberman as a result of this.
But wait--it gets worse! The CBO has declared that if Congress passes a law stating that insurance companies must spend 90% of the money they receive on premiums on actual health care, then it is the same thing as nationalizing the entire industry. This means they would score a bill with a 90% medical loss ratio in the several trillion dollar range, thus killing the bill politically.
The Senate will not pass a public option. It will not pass a Medicare buy-in. It will not mandate a 90% medical loss ratio. Ugh. This deal keeps getting worse all the time.