"Deficit Neutral" Health Care Reform

Absurdity upon Absurdity

Michael Collins

The health care debate and general political climate compound absurdity upon absurdity.

First we're told that our health care is only worth the time and
effort if the remedy has no negative impact on the budget.  No deficits
allowed.  The deficit risk defines your chances for health and
longevity.

At the same time, we see that Wall Street failures and the overseas
war effort are not held to the same standard on deficits spending.

The federal government has committed $23 trillion dollars
to prop up Wall Street's failed financial institutions.  That's a
fantasy figure and clearly deficit-friendly since it's twice the 2008
Gross Domestic Product of the United States.

On Tuesday of this week a smaller amount was offered up for the 2010
expenditures on the Iraq war and the expanded efforts in Afghanistan. 
The $128 billion was approved without a Congressional Budget Office analysis (note the absence of a link for "CBO Cost Estimates").  Since we're already over budget for 2010, this is also in the deficit column.

It's all right to run huge deficits to bailout Wall Street crooks
and to wage deadly wars but it's not all right to even think about a
deficit when it comes to preserving the health and lives of citizens.

The second absurdity concerns priorities.  A rational approach to
national policy would place citizen health care well above both Wall
Street welfare and endless wars on any list of priorities.  But that
wouldn't do much good with the current legislative approach.

A political victory amounts to a loss for the public.  Why?

The current legislation delays help for the uninsured for years.  It
limits the "public option" to those without health insurance.  It does
little or nothing to contain rising health care costs for in the near
term.  And it ignores prescription medication -- a major factor in
out-of-control costs.

If you are insured now, you will get the pre-existing conditions
exclusion lifted from future policies and some other benefits like
moving your plan from one employer to another, etc.  If you're self
employed or a small business owner paying insurance directly to the
tune of $1,200 to $1,400 a month per employee, there are no built-in
cost control measures.  If you're among the 54% of U.S. employees
working for an employer that pays your health costs (self funded health
insurance), using the Blue Crosses of the world to simply administer
the plan, the savings you have now are, for the most part, what you
will have after the "reforms" on the table.

Why?  Because there are no cost controls for the underlying service, health care, and profit-driven insurance fees.

The cost saving elements of the bill from electronic records etc. are not going to appear in the next two years, if ever.

Current polling shows that 65% of citizens support "the government offering everyone a government health insurance plan like Medicare."  The 10% to 40%
that private insurers take out of the system for overhead and profits
compares to less than 5% administrative costs for Medicare.  By
shifting health care costs away from employers to the government as
single payer (in line with the rest of the industrialized world), U.S.
businesses and workers could compete more effectively at home and
abroad.   After ten years, we might actually get some new jobs and
higher incomes.

Unfortunately, the wisdom and logic of the people are not heeded by
Congress and the administration.  Government funded single payer health
care is an approach forbidden in the current debate.  A watered down
version is the "public option" which President Obama said would be
available to only the uninsured and, even then, on a limited basis.
 Congress is even talking about the states having public options at
their discretion.  It's all about getting a bill passed.

Meaningful reform and immediate relief are not on the agenda.

Those in charge think that we're so stupid we won't notice that our
health care is either the same or worse should the proposed legislation
be made law.  Clearly, they think that there's no urgency to address
the availability and affordability of health care.  A political victory
trumps a clear and present set of requirements for the good health of
citizens.

It's time that the administration and Congress start behaving like adults and tell the truth.

As of now, the truth is that endless war and endless bailouts are
the national priorities.  The other key truth, soon to become painfully
evident, is that the current health care reform legislation will do
little in the near term to relieve the immediate problems of cost
availability and affordability.  It is faith-based reform that inspires
little faith other than among the latest bailout beneficiaries,
insurance companies that stand to acquire tens of millions of new
customers.

Why isn't the health of citizen the number one priority?

Why aren't we getting the truth

END

See:  House and Senate single payer bills

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