Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This Week in Health: Health Care Hypocrisy (Time to Call Your Favorite Blue Dogs)

(Cross-posted at Blue Commonwealth).

Congress is at “work” on the budget for FY beginning in October. At least some members in Congress are at work trying to bring Americans the health care insurance they want and deserve. Some have dug their ideological heels in. Meanwhile, as do many economists, President Barack Obama sees health care reform as critical to our economy, and as essential to the budget this year. With health care costs skyrocketing along with the ranks of the uninsured, we have no choice.

Yet, on cue, the whiners and obstructionists are out in force, trying to prevent anything from being done. Ourfuture.org today presented a number of quotes from Whiners, Inc. You know the guys who have health insurance but don’t want you to. You’ll want to take a look at the absurdity of many of them.

You’ll want to take a look at the absurdity of many of them. As OurFuture.org notes:

Whiner-in-chief Sen. Judd Gregg R-NH copmplained “that would be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through….You’re talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You’re talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them into the Chicago River.”


But, really. it’s not a laughing matter. I think we should ask the Repubs --and the Blue Dogs too--what’s wrong with Americans having the a choice of selecting the same plan Congress has? We pay for theirs, but they wont return the favor. If they won’t get off their duffs and give Americans universal health care insurance (including a public option), I think we should try to figure out how to take their insurance away (and maybe their pensions too--since they don’t care if we have those either). I’ll write more on pension reform tomorrow. The votes are there in the House. But in the Senate, as we all know, obstructionists have made new meaning of the 60 votes to end cloture. That leaves the reconciliation process as perhaps the only avenue. And as I have written before, any protest by Republicans about using reconciliation never includes an honest reflection on the times they used it themselves.

The Republicans (and some Dems) are the folks who want to hand you a small check and send you out on your own to buy health insurance in the “marketplace,” where many a family pays between $1600 and 2,000 or more a month. They voucher program they propose won't come close to doing what it needs to. But if everyone were in the system and risk was spread out among the entire population, premiums could be a lot less. But a voucher system is unsustainable because:

• Currently, the uninsured can cost the system more than the insured, especially when they use the ER for routine health issues.
• The already sick won’t be able to buy insurance at an affordable price.
• Those with pre-existing conditions would still have problems getting coverage.
• Over-zealous insurance claim denial (which sometimes amounts to fraud against those who have paid for coverage (would continue). This guarantees that the sick, and even the dying, must spend their time fighting with insurance to get the coverage they paid for.
• The GOP proposals offer no group-negotiated price.
• Negotiating for group pricing for either services or medication in Republican plan.
• The GOP and Blue Dog versions strip away a nationalized option.
• The Republicans don’t want to stop over-subsidizing Medicare “Advantage” plans; and neither the Blue Dogs nor the Republicans want there to be a public option (such as buying into the plan Congress has, or into Medicare.
• Worse, for those under 55, Republicans want to end admittance to Medicare (when they are 65) and put everyone into on-your-ownership

When you hear Republicans using mythic talking points, such as, “We can’t afford Cadillac coverage,” you know you are being snowed. Only the elite and execs have “Cadillac or concierge medical care. And they don’t want us to intrude into their hospital luxury suites. Yes, there is such a thing. We just don’t get to use them. It’s not that I am asking that we can, mind you. But the availability of such a two-tiered system renders the suite-sters unfit to lecture us about health care costs. No worry, their employers pick up the tab, but these same coddled elites don't want our employers to supply coverage.

Meanwhile Blue Dogs still threaten to undo everything. I’m too miffed with Evan Bayh to even get started on “that one.” The Nay-saying Republicans won’t ante up and give the American people what they want. And the whole thing threatens to make this an ugly week. That's where you come in. You can keep things from going south on health care. It’s really time to head to Washington. But until you do, please:

• Call Sen. Mark Warner: (202) 224-2023

• Or write: http://warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact

I am not sure we should label Jim Webb a “Blue Dog.” Surely, he’s more of a populist than most in Congress. But for good measure, please call or write him too.

• Call Sen. Jim Webb: (202) 224-4024

• Or write: http://webb.senate.gov/contact/