The tell here about the fundamental un-seriousness of the Howard Dean/Kill-the-bill criticism is that Dean is now conflating provisions that allow for age-appropriate insurance premiums with denying people insurance on the basis of preexisting conditions. Take this snippet from his Hardball appearance earlier this week:
DEAN: We were promised, in exchange for putting a ton of money into the insurance companies, that people with pre-existing conditions could get insurance. But it turns out the insurance companies — in the fine print — can charge three hundred percent more for older folks than they can for younger folks. So that’s not really what happened.
I’m sorry, but this is an attack straight out of the Betsy McCaughey handbook. We can have a discussion of whether older richer sicker folks should really pay more for insurance than younger poorer healthier folks [I’m all for it, personally]. But let’s not use that debate to cloud what is the single most important reform in the bill, that sick people can’t be denied coverage. It also seems to me that people who want to kill this bill are in denial about what the most probable alternative scenario now is: It’s not sweeping, progressive legislation passed through reconciliation with 51 votes — it’s no bill at all and Speaker of the House Eric Cantor in 2010.