Friday, March 19, 2010

MIDWEEK MUSINGS ON HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM

Better a health insurance reform bill which can be fixed than a health insurance system which cannot.

Those who think that Republican proposals can ensure coverage at reasonable prices by enabling competition across state lines are promoting a race to the bottom. Companies will issue policies from states with the weakest regulations, at perhaps lower costs but with certainly much less coverage, and still deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions or cancel it to those with post-coverage illness or injury. Tell me again: why do the Republican offer this suggestion at this late date? (I guess it goes along with their new-found commitment to fiscal responsibility after the Bush “surge.”)

I have noticed how well the free market works in restricting itself rather than expanding itself—not. I cannot figure out why even niche policies do not exist for those willing to pay extremely high premiums for their pre-existing conditions. Part of the answer cannot be economic but must be cultural.

My guess is that Republicans fear this reform bill because it will work, it will discredit the view that government cannot do anything right at reasonable cost, and it will reveal that Republicans make no sense and care about nobody but the rich.

If the bill passes, the Republicans may relentlessly try to undo it, but only as a campaign tactic. Even if they were to get control of both chambers of Congress in the fall elections, they would have to get a two-thirds majority in each to override a certain Presidential veto. Moreover, once the politicking is past, the public will not care (a) about past politicking on the subject and (b) for Republican reminders of what they want to forget. Finally, as the benefits start kicking in, not least with the ability of those denied coverage to get it, most people will realize that the Republicans were not acting for any interests by those of their corporate campaign contributors. All of which shows how tin-eared the Republicans are. But I am not going to advise them not to do what will likely prove damaging to them.

BTW, I attended a local Republican candidate’s confab cum fundraiser with doctors on the subject. The campaign refused to give me a copy of its AV tape. Why? One doctor objected to the Obama plan because it would limit doctors to an annual earned income of $175,000. Poor poopsies! Bruised egos and their sense of entitlement. Another complained that it did not cut costs but wasted resources on those whose terminal condition was a lengthy requiring expensive treatment to prolong life. Such doctors seem mindful of the price of everything and the value of nothing, ironically, including human life. “Death panels” everywhere, even on the right! Call for Sarah Palin! But I was impressed that others expressed a desire to provide medical services to the neediest no matter what. Some troops seem to have a better sense of public service than their leaders, actual or prospective.

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