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Do The Right Thing: Healthcare Reform Must Pass March 16, 2010

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Politics.
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As Congress readies itself to vote on healthcare reform this week, it’s time to reiterate why this country needs reform — and yes, even the abandoned public option — NOW. And we can’t wait for the Republicans to get on board because they simply never will: They like the money they get from the insurance and pharmaceutical lobby too much.

Why now, why this? The current system, the status quo, does not work.

1. It doesn’t work, either for the 12-50 million “collateral damage” Americans the conservatives seem to believe are disposable — or for the 280 million people who already pay a fortune in personal insurance, or co-pays and deductibles, or out-of-pocket treatment, or COBRA. Americans are increasingly underinsured, trapped in their jobs because they have a “pre-existing condition”, or arbitrarily dumped or denied when they require expensive life-saving treatments. If you argue that our system works, you’d better hope that you don’t find yourself out of a job or in the all-too-common position that you require the mercy of an insurance board looking for reasons to deny coverage so it can save a few bucks.

2. If the argument that covers human compassion/basic morality/haves vs. have-nots/social responsibility doesn’t mean anything to conservatives, then yes, let’s talk economics. If the 45 million or so uninsured are suddenly insured and able to obtain regular medical treatment, how many jobs do you think such a massive shift might generate in the middle class? And… isn’t competition supposed to be a good thing in the free market? Doesn’t the classic argument follow the idea that competition keeps prices down, quality high, and innovation moving forward? And there’s the argument of economic value. The United States already pays by far the most money per capita in the industrial world for medicine, yet tens of millions are uninsured and we have the highest medical mortality rate in the first world. The return on investment in our current system is abysmal.

3. When profits and care are forced to compete, the consumer loses to the shareholder. For example, Anthem (Blue Cross) just had a $3 billion profit last quarter in California. But because of high unemployment, people are dropping expensive insurance plans, resulting in a smaller risk pool. Result: Anthem’s premiums are going up a minimum of 39%. Welcome to deflation everyone! Deflation is invariably linked to higher unemployment and lower wages, but it’s out of alignment for a company like Anthem which stockholders to please. It’s not a sustainable situation for Anthem, which will have to cut costs (i.e. deny healthcare services to its customers) to remain highly profitable.

The Right, which so recently entrusted our government into the hands of the inept, now suddenly is exhibiting an anti-governmental tick, resulting in an argument that all government (and its initiatives, such as healthcare) is evil, all taxation to pay for the common good (except for the military) is theft, and that all regulation (except that which protects Wall Street executives) is tyranny. Tea partiers don’t worry about loss of life or predatory healthcare corporations because they don’t care about practical effects, only ideological consistency.

But what these free market extremists don’t understand — or are paid by the corporate benefactors to ignore — is that we don’t need to give up individual liberties in order to allow the state to provide greater security in healthcare:

There is no reason why “the state should not assist individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”  — Friedrich von Hayek, Austrian economist whose work is often cited by the Right.

Do what needs to be done, Congress. The American people can’t afford to be cannibalized anymore by corporations pretending to provide them care. Pass healthcare reform!

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Comments»

1. noh8 - March 16, 2010

I completely agree.
Great post, but a little light on the jetsam!

2. Leslie Mladinich - March 16, 2010

I like how you delineated everything and used the opposition’s own arguments to buttress your case. I am proud to call you my colleague!

3. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - March 16, 2010

Thank you, noh8: I’ll try to include more jetsam next time, my apologies for being heavy-handed on the flotsam 🙂 I like your blog, by the way… thanks for commenting so I could discover yours!

@Leslie: What a fabulous compliment! Thank you!

4. Grrr…. plagiarism! « Bloggapalooza - March 19, 2010

[…] Esquer in Uncategorized. Tags: DMCA, plagiarism, plagiarist, plagiary trackback Since my last post on plagiarism, I’ve found two more incidents of outright theft — and I’m sure there’s more. […]

5. Mark Adair - March 23, 2010

Miss Esquer:

Please tell me what I can do if this scenario ever arises:

My daughter needs a kidney. I apply to the medical boards in my local area so she can have an emergency kidney transplant. After months of waiting, I get a visit from my local Health Care Rep from Congressman Bigbucks office.

This HC Rep says, “Gee, Congressman Bigbucks is so sorry that your daughter is sick. We would like to help you… but… according to our records, you bought a Honda a few years ago. Therefore, you and your daughter go to the end of the line.”

Me: “But my kid needs a kidney. What car should I have purchased.”

HCR: “If you had purchased a GM car from our Union Workers, we could have got that kidney for your kid within a week. Bought you bought a Honda. Therefore, no kidney for your kid.”

Me: “But… I couldn’t afford a GM car. They are $5,000 more than a Honda and they won’t last as long. If I could have afforded a GM, I would have bought one.”

HCR: “Well, we really do try and protect our American workers. But I can understand that maybe your finaces are a little tight and you couldn’t afford the extra $5,000 to buy a GM car. I tell you what. If you can give me $1,000 – in cash – I can make sure that your daughter will go to the front of the line for a new kidney.”

Me: “You want me to pay you $1,000 in cash to get my sick daughter a new kidney?”

HCR: “Yes.”

So tell me Ms. Esquer… what happens then?

You think this won’t happen if the Government gets control of our health care system?

Well, perhaps your right… Maybe it would be better to have the government control the health care system.

After all, I have never heard of a crooked Congressman before.

6. Lynn, of Bloggapalooza - March 23, 2010

@Mark: You have to know that scenario will not occur under this law. You need to understand that we still operate under an insurance model… the insurance companies have simply had restrictions placed on them so that they may not treat patients as capriciously as they do now. There are no boards, other than the ones that have been operated at insurance companies all along. The for-profit insurance companies are still in charge of your care… I suppose you find that comforting, although I don’t.

Your post dovetails nicely into today’s new blog post, which answers your question more completely: https://bloggapalooza.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/healthcare’s-integral-role-in-functioning-democracy/


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