Reading various right-wing comments on the health care reform bill prompted me to write this rant (only slightly toned down from its original form):
It’s astonishing how uninformed people are about both this health care bill and the current grave state of our health care system.
First of all, the bill in its current form is very close to Republican proposals of years past. It is to the right of a proposal that President Nixon himself offered to Ted Kennedy (who foolishly turned it down). The rhetoric that this is a “socialist takeover” of health care is pure, uninformed idiocy of the worst kind. It’s incredible to me that so many of my fellow Americans are so averse to doing basic research and understanding what we have in front of us. Calling it “socialist” basically means that Republicans will call anything socialist in order to score points with the public.
The plan uses ONLY private insurance companies. There isn’t even a public option in this plan, at all. There are no hard price controls in the plan, though there are plenty of cost control ideas. It’s in every way one of the most conservative attempts to reform health care there could possibly be.
As for complaints about the mandate; let’s think this through. There are only two options: government health insurance, or private insurance with a mandate. If you don’t have a mandate, but you get rid of prohibitions on insurance companies preventing people from getting insurance who have preexisting conditions, then insurance rates will skyrocket for everyone, because people will have no incentive to buy insurance until they get sick. Just wait till you get sick, buy insurance then, and take your free ride! This makes no sense at all and would never work.
You can’t have it both ways: if you don’t want government health insurance (public option), but you want to get rid of discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions, then you have to have a mandate. There’s no logical alternative.
Most Republican ideas regarding health care reform are already in this bill. The bill boils down to: preventing arbitrary rescission, preventing discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions, creating insurance exchanges to give individuals group purchasing power, enabling some form of interstate competition, creating a mechanism for the development of alternative payment schemes for Medicare, mandating insurance companies spend, in most markets, 85% of their premiums on health care, subsidies for people who cannot afford insurance. It is a balanced, private sector approach.
We are ALREADY paying through the nose for health care (or our employers are). In the United States, we spend roughly twice what other countries spend as a proportion of GDP on health care, and yet we still have waiting times as long or even longer than many countries with government health care, and our health care outcomes are just middle of the road, or worse, on average. The price of health care is exploding at twice the rate of inflation; it has doubled in less than ten years. If we don’t do anything now we face financial ruin.
Wake up, America, and stop listening to right wing blowhards who haven’t even bothered to understand the basic issues. This is a good bill, it is a moderate bill, it is the minimum we need to get or country back on track.