The Imminent Demise Of Health Care Reform

Just a few thoughts on the imminent demise of real action on health care…..

There should have been a real conversation in this country on several topics;

  1. Why should taxpayers who have coverage bear a burden for the uninsured?
  2. How can a government program help to spur the creation of a competitive marketplace in health care?
  3. Why do government run programs in the rest of the world outperform U.S. providers in health care outcomes while costing less of those nation’s GDP?
  4. Can we trust government committees with sensitive choices in regards to our family’s health care?
  5. Why do we trust big insurance bureaucrats with sensitive choices in regards to our family’s health care?
  6. How do the costs of action now relate to costs in the future?

All of these questions could have formed the foundation for a good conversation in living rooms and town halls around the country. The fact that instead we have spent two months trying to get people to realize that “death panels” are a myth is sobering; 30% or more still cling to the notion. Somewhere, Senator Grassley and Representative Boehner are laughing…hard. These two “gentleman” stood with straight faces and told their constituents that they would oppose any plan that included “death panels”. Strangely enough, the clause in HR 3200 that forms the basis of the myth (the clause that provides funding for people who choose the public option and want to receive counseling on end of life planning…funerals, DNR’s, living wills, etc…) is taken almost word for word from the 2004 Medicare law that George W. Bush and 45 GOP senators along with over 200 GOP members of the House (including Boehner and Grassley) point to as a major legislative accomplishment. That is right sports fans….Grassley and Boehner joined in criticism of a bill do to a clause that they voted on just five years earlier. You just have to love Washington!

Death panels and an impressive lineup of truly concerned citizens whipped to a frenzy by lies and sent off to drown out conversation at the town halls have formed the conversation…certainly not what the rational middle considers productive participatory democracy. The concerned and diligent young women who confronted Arlen Spector was, I believe, emblematic of the problem we face in this country. She cares about the country, is concerned about our future, and yet has no real idea of what she is concerned about. She doesn’t understand our history and relies on information that is designed specifically into scaring her into opposition….politics now on both sides has degenerated into the exploitation of our poor education. I am a big fan of the founding fathers; but they were, after all, slave owners who did not acknowledge that women were citizens. There are good reasons for the evolution of our government over the last 200 years. A women standing up to advocate in tearful rage that we should go back to the way the founding fathers intended is someone who has not in fact read the Constitution. The problem doesn’t end with poor education, but rather confusion. Senior citizens in town hall meetings who are attacking Democrats for (supposedly) trying to destroy Medicare and for (supposedly) trying to implement socialized health care are confused. Medicare IS socialized medicine…and so is the VA.

Any realistic attempt to get single payer or socialized medicine in this nation died last spring when the President said he would not support it. There are, perhaps, 3 senators to go along with the 85 House cosponsors who would vote for a single payer bill (incidentally the bill is HR 676). Nancy Pelosi could not bring it to a vote in the House, let alone see Harry Reid have a Senate version passed. The myth of mandated government health care has served to muddy the waters around the real legislation, and that suits the insurance lobby just fine.

HR 3200 (follow this link…http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.3200.IH:) and S391 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.391.IS:) are both designed to push the market away from the monopolistic model that is now operating towards a competitive marketplace. They use public plans in conjunction with the current operators in “exchanges” to create competition…competition of course being the factor that drives service level and cost savings. Neither of the plans mandate the use of the public options, although the insurance industry is pushing for the inclusion of a mandate that all buy insurance. Funny how they want no public option to compete with, and a law creating 40 million new customers…I guess they want some big government after all.

I think about the “evil” public option often….the farmer who does not have to take a job in town to get coverage…the husband and wife who can afford to take the risk and pursue the American Dream with the opening of their own business without the prohibitive cost of private insurance….the worker who loses his or her job and does not have to buy COBRA to cover the gap until they find new work….the couple who both work “full time” in retail and have seen their hours cut to 31 per week; just under their firm’s limit for insurance coverage. Sounds terrible doesn’t it? Of course the CBO projects that it will fix health care inflation at 8% over the next decade….say friends, what was your increase from last year to this and repeated over the last decade? I’ll bet it was more than 8%.

If you fall into the 20% of Americans who have decided over the last 2 months that Health Reform is difficult, dangerous, or too expensive; I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt as to your reasons.

The rational middle wants you to remember those reasons for the next ten years or so if real Health Reform is not passed this time around. Remember them and be sure to look at your books as well….