POLICY/HEALTH PLANS: SCHIP passes the Senate, but I think for now Medicare Advantage is safe…for now

A version of SCHIP that doesn’t touch Medicare passed the Senate last night. It has a veto proof majority. Of course it now has to be reconciled with the house bill that raises more taxes and cuts Medicare Advantage. So this will now go one of two ways. Either the bills will get reconciled along the lines of the Senate bill and probably get signed by Bush, or the emerging bill will have a hack at Medicare Advantage and get vetoed.

My guess is that it’ll be the latter. It’s just too tempting for the Democrats to provoke the veto and then campaign on the fact that Republicans hate children. (Some temporary extension for the current SCHIP will be worked out as it expires in the background).

Meanwhile despite all the rhetoric remember this:

The Congressional Budget Office says the Senate bill would cover 3.2 million uninsured children, including 2.7 million who are currently eligible but not enrolled. The House bill, it said, would cover 4.2 million children, including 3.8 million already eligible for benefits. In addition, both bills would provide money to prevent 800,000 children now on the program from losing coverage.

According to KFF there are 8 million uninsured children today. So we’re only talking about covering up to half of currently uninsured kids. Which makes all the rhetoric about socialized medicine a little overblown. Even though unlike some of the more timid moderate Democrats I’m happy to say that socializing the insurance side of health care —as in putting everyone in one pool — would be a very good idea.

Meanwhile, perhaps the recent pressure on managed care stocks is a little over done? (Far be it from THCB to recommend a buy on UNH, but it’s at $48 which is way below where it’s been for a while!)

UPDATE: AHIP isn’t taking any chances, Its headline in its propaganda this morning is (I shit you not) "House Votes to Push Millions of Seniors out of Medicare Advantage"  Click thru and you can see a video of my favorite lobbyist telling only a small number of lies in 44 seconds. Did you know that Medicare Advantage is a "safety net" for seniors? Neither did I….

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