Page 16 Hits A Nerve

The temperatures have been rising in the month of July, as you can really tell that political battles in Washington, D.C. have fired up both sides by all of the electronic rebukes people are giving each other, and me, in recent weeks.

"Jamie Dupree Echoing Drudge and Heritage, Limbaugh falsely," wrote one aggravated listener yesterday about my work on details of the Democrats' health care bill.

"The Conservative biased mainstream media lives," said another this month.

"Cash that GOP check Jamie."

This is good stuff right now.  People are fired up and we've got some great stories to focus on.  So let's look again at the health care issue.

Last week, we went over Page 16 of the health care bill introduced by Democrats on July 14, which - to some people - seems to be a phase out of private insurance, forcing those plans into government run Health Exchanges.

That issue resurfaced after a conference call that President Obama did with more liberal bloggers this week, where he was asked about charges that Section 102 of the bill would phase out private insurance plans.

"You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about," the President said on the call.

As I said on the air yesterday, the fact that Obama had no idea about the furor on talk radio and on the internet over Page 16  doesn't surprise me, because both parties are guilty of talking only to themselves on major issues like health reform.

Democrats don't want to listen to talk radio because they don't like the message and Republicans don't want to listen to what the Dems are saying and complain about the dratted Liberal Media.

Where did this story come from?  It grew in part out of an editorial by Investors Business Daily - not exactly an operation that I would qualify as a left-wing or right-wing organ.

You can read their latest write-up from this week at  http://bit.ly/gSuzd  where they defend their original conclusion about Section 102.

Their argument that the bill phases out private health insurance coverage has been savaged by Democrats and by conservative watchdogs like Media Matters.

"In fact, the bill does no such thing," Media Matters concluded in a post that ripped a few guys with names like Hannity and Limbaugh.

But the folks at IBD haven't backed down, as they "asked for confirmation from the House Ways and Means Committee. Sources there agreed: The bill would indeed shut down the individual private health care insurance market."

That was hotly rejected by key Committee chair Rep. Henry Waxman, leaving us at the usual partisan impasse on these things.

One side is convinced that the bill will ruin the existing system, while the other side is convinced that it's the moanings of a bunch of political crapmeisters.

I will be interested to see if Democrats massage the Section 102 language in a final version of this bill.  If they don't, then we will be arguing about Page Sixteen for a long time to come.

IBD argued again yesterday that while private insurance companies will still exist, the plans they would be allowed in the exchanges would need the approval of the feds.

"The exchange will be a highly regulated clearinghouse of providers that meet the government's standards. Only those providers that follow Washington's stringent guidelines will be allowed to join this exclusive club," read the editorial.

"Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., complains in a letter that last week's editorial is "factually incorrect and highly misleading" yet admits three paragraphs later that outside the exchange, providers "can't continue to market" existing "policies to new customers.""

If you haven't read the health care bill yet - or Section 102 - take a few minutes to do it, because arguments like this one aren't going away anytime soon.

You can still download the bill at http://bit.ly/nSL2A - just right click on that and save it to your hard drive.

You might learn something.