Wednesday, September 16, 2009

R's Shoot Blanks on Key Health Care Components

Congressmen John Shadegg (R-Arizona) and Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) finally spoke up to offer a proposal for Republicans that was more fleshed out than "not what Obama wants," which has been the Republican plan so far. If you read their editorial, it sounds great because it's vague on key details and includes every marketing buzzword that their pollsters show sells well, such as "government takeover of health care." (If we had a dollar for every Republican who has mislabeled Obama's effort as such, we could give everybody $10,000 per year to pay for coverage).

The smartest political play someone can make to derail legislation is to cherry pick the most publicly supported components. For people like Shadegg and Hoekstra, this means having to say things like:

•Pre-existing Conditions. Americans agree that no one should go bankrupt because of a chronic disease or pre-existing conditions like multiple sclerosis or breast cancer.
Really? Precisely how long have Americans agreed? Because I recall Republicans having a President in office who wouldn't do anything real on the problem, or as stated by Shadegg and Hoekstra:

In 2006, the Republican Congress and President Bush passed legislation encouraging states to create "high-risk" pools where those with pre-existing conditions could receive coverage at roughly the same rates as healthy Americans. State-based high-risk pools spread the cost of care for those with chronic diseases among all insurers in the market. The additional cost of their care is subsidized by the government.

Unfortunately, some states have not created high-risk pools, and some need to be restructured to ensure timely access to care. Republicans have proposed fixing this problem by expanding and strengthening this safety net, and by creating reinsurance or risk-adjustment pools so that Americans with chronic medical conditions can get the care they need at an affordable cost.

I see. So the Republican Party's solution for handling pre-existing conditions is more of something that was so ineffective, almost nobody did it? How do you expand something that nobody even started? More encouragement? Come on, Rhode can do it! Keep trying! You're the little state that could!

This is the drivel you get when you are commanded by your party to never say the word "mandate." Sorry, but sometimes you have to tell people (or insurance companies specifically) to do or not do things; otherwise, they'll cook up ways to lose 18 billion in a year on credit default swaps. Any of you Republicans heard of AIG?

Also, can Republicans tell anybody how much will be needed to subsidize "high risk" insurance for everybody with chronic and/or pre-existing conditions? Where are you going to get that money?

By the way, did anybody notice the inconsistency in wanting to permit companies to sell insurance policies across state lines but ONLY having high-risk insurance pools available by state? If a bigger (also known as "national" market) would result in lower premiums, wouldn't we want a national high risk pool? Oh, wait! That would probably mean Obama would get credit for setting something up that none of our Republican Governors could get done, so that's a terrible idea.

While we're on the idea of national markets, I'm told there is this company called Walmart that uses bulk purchases and marketing power to negotiate insanely low rates for its customers. You may say, "Why would a company sell to Walmart for a low price?" Because with Walmart, the check is always good and the unit volume stays high and consistent. Also, in some areas, Walmart is the only game still in town. What an interesting philosophy.

If we apply what we learned from the Walmart example, what we need is one really huge company that can negotiate with private providers for all of our national health goods and services (pharmaceuticals, hospital stays, doctor's visits, diagnostic tests, etc.)? I heard of precisely such an enterprise. It's called USA, Incorporated. What it does is goes out and buys medical services for senior citizens who can always buy additional good and services on their own, if they so choose, or they can get insurance that makes those purchases for them.

This system works so swell that seemingly nobody in the Republican Party has called for this program to be dismantled. Nobody has said, "Oh my God! USA, Incorporated is a monopolist!" or "USA, Incorporated" is grossly inefficient. I wonder why.

Finally, where is the Republican prohibition against a cap on lifetime coverage? What good is coverage that runs out?

Nice try, Republican Party. Let me know when you have some real answers.


1 comment:

somaie said...

nice read. thanks