Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Reform?

The health insurance reform debate has been framed by conservatives, not because their world view is correct but because they shout loud and long and unified and we leftist policy wonks want a reasonable debate. So they get to call Representative Frank a faggot and we get to argue how and why health insurance reform will reduce costs. They march up to the Capitol and shout "nigger" at black Representatives and we wonder why it isn't obvious that this path to reform is simply smarter government regulation. This isn't a take over of health providers by government fiat- this is a reining in (albeit modest) of some aspects of the runaway gravy train that has fed health insurance corporations. It's a no brainer, a modest first step to controlling costs and giving people a chance to have access to health care.What seems obvious to a policy wonk like me does not appear anything close to obvious to people who think Sarah Palin has a viable national candidacy. I read that President Obama is a socialist hell-bent on inflicting government programs upon us. Which I suppose might have been true had we seen Medicare coverage expanded. Or had we seen even a public option included in the package of reforms proposed for passage. Instead what we got was a bundle of tighter regulations on insurance companies while guaranteeing them a larger pool of healthy premium payers. Such is the grip of corporate America on our politicians that we cannot envision any reform anywhere that doesn't offer compensation to our corporate masters for the slightest moral inconvenience they may be asked to suffer. Never let it be said corporate America's bottom line should be reduced to fulfill a moral obligation.

That is, I guess, how I view health care reform. For me it is a moral obligation. The fact that the new mish mash of regulations will cover but 95%of Americans seems absurd; yet it is a huge leap forward. That the reforms are expected to cost less than forging ahead with our current non-system is a bonus. The costs of not having proper access to health care are far higher than the sort of numbers the Congressional Budget Office can crunch. The CBO says the reforms will reduce costs but we know free preventative care will encourage people to seek medical supervision before they need intervention which in the long run will reduce costs considerably. Consider too the health hazard posed by a lifestyle involving large quantities of inappropriate foods combined with not much exercise. And add to that the current expectation that emergency rooms will cover medical needs by passing on the costs to the insured... All these issues mean that not passing health insurance reform would be far more costly in the long run.

I am not an opponent of good government. Personally I'd like to see Medicare for all offered. It is obvious that elderly Americans love Medicare, in the same way Canadians enjoy their socialism in health care delivery. Elderly Americans have the option of buying private insurance, especially now that pre-existing conditions will no longer be a reason to be refused. Yet I doubt anyone will drop Medicare to go private.

When push came to shove our leaders, Republicans at the time, funnelled vast sums of money to bail out bankers and insurance companies. President Obama followed in the same vein, a puppet in the hands of his campaign contributors. Health insurance reform offers us a watered down package for the same reason, but even Dennis Kucinich got on board at the last moment because this is better than nothing.

Dennis Kucinich

Meanwhile we will have to soldier on with this abysmal economy and keep hoping for the best. Private insurance has been screwing us just as badly as private bankers have been screwing with our money. A little government regulation goes a long way in leveling the playing field for we the people. I look forward to seeing how Republicans propose to take back these reforms once enacted. This change could be an example of good government which we should all back. I hope it has time to grow and show what it can do for ordinary working Americans.

6 comments:

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lindsay said...

Thank you! You have summed up my thoughts exactly. I am bewildered by the right-wing assault on health care reform (and you have rightly described it as health *insurance* reform rather than health *care*), but I am more bewildered by the number of people willing to buy into their representations. And additionally bewildered by the willingness of moderate Republicans (if there are any left) to allow the crazies to define their party.

It is not the bill I wanted, but in the end I am glad it passed.

Check Please! said...

You are correct this bill came up far short on actual reform, focusing instead on buying votes from the targeted demographic. Politics as usual. We are a nation of sheeple.

Danette said...

Nother good one from Lawrence Lessig- here's the link in case you missed it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-lessig/the-moment_b_508558.html

Conchscooter said...

Public financing of elections! Now that would make things interesting! Training the sheeple to imagine that would be a trick!

The Annonymous said...

Public financing of elections may be the best practical answer. We absolutely need to get the "pay to play" influence out of our elected offices - and the appointed ones (e.g. R. Burris)... If we don't, all we'll get down here in the boiler room is platitudes and promises... while the lobbyists and politicians (both parties tarred with the same brush), feast on steak. Oh to have a dream....