Why Government Run Health Care is Important (article 2 of 3)

Forgive the Crab.  I am having trouble staying on one topic.  So please forgive the wanderings of the blog:

I admit, I am not an economist (though took my share of courses in college) or a health care professional (though my wife is a psychologist), or anything else that qualifies me to talk with authority on the subject of health care.  What I am, though, is a Liberal.  Despite the connotations derived by the Right, it doesn’t mean I am a Nazi or a Socialist.   In the most typical context for a majority of us in this country, it means personal freedom and the need for social injustices to be fixed.

Contrary to myth, it does not mean limiting Capitalism, creating social programs for all people, or taking from the rich and giving to the poor (or simply taking from everyone).  Understanding those truths and accepting them, may give Conservatives an understanding of why I (we) feel health care reform is important and why the Government solution is the right choice.

A friend of mine made the point – “health care is a right, not a privilege” and broken down into that simple phrase, sums up the biggest problem with health care today.  There are over 46 million people (and growing) that health care is, in fact, a privilege and one they are not granted a right. In our society, that’s a tragedy. It’s an embarrassment.  And, it’s very very sad.  In response back to my friend’s simple but accurate summation of the problem, I stated that I have *never* met anyone who either has been severely sick or without insurance that doesn’t believe the system is fine and aren’t supporting what the President is trying to accomplish.

That’s very telling.  Those who have actually lived through the costs and/or the lack of insurance see a problem.  The people that are opposed are those with health insurance or have never had a serious illness.  I know there are exceptions – there are 300 million Americans in this country and people can always provide a contrary view.  But, going on sampling – it’s still a strong indicator.

To deny what some of us have to others is selfish at it’s best and cruel at it’s worst.  Health care needs to be reformed in this Country to guarantee every single American is covered.    Those who will not even accept that point, should simply be ignored.  They can’t be rationalized with and they care not about the wellness of our society as a whole.   Unfortunately, in the debates I’ve had over the years, I’ve actually met several that have admitted as much.

To those who say, ‘yes – we have a problem, but Government is not the solution’ – then the question should be asked, what is your solution?  Very rarely will you get a succinct response when you ask them what is their alternative solution.

Here’s the secret – there isn’t one.  Government is the solution and that’s something they cannot accept or admit, particularly if it falls away from their ideology.  Health care and insurance, depending how you measure it, is the Country’s biggest industry.  To change that industry without Government intervention is impossible.  The Government must be involved.  Whether it’s through regulation or involvement, Government must play a role.

Regulation alone is not going to radically change health care/insurance.  The industry is simply too complex to cover everything required to bring costs in line and ensure everyone has coverage.  Too many loop holes exist to ensure policy changes work.  Further, lobbying on the Hill will weaken any policies that come up for a vote.

“Heath care is a right – not a privilege”.  If that is a truth, then the Government needs to do everything in their power to ensure that guarantee for everyone.  This is not one of a thousand other social programs that might be more of a privilege than a right.  The US Government is the richest and biggest company in the World.  To really affect change in the health care industry, money and competition must be prevalent.  Money will  put the Government on the same foothold has the Cignas, Aetnas, and Blue Crosses.  From there, the Government (as competition) can set rules to allow everyone to be covered – all 46 million Americans.  In addition, those who are being squeezed by increasing premiums and larger deductibles through private insurance will have an opportunity to be with a health care program that doesn’t increase premiums to meet profit goals, rather premiums will increase with inflation.

By allowing the Government to enter and covering 46 million Americans, they become the biggest health care company in the Country.  They will be able to facilitate setting prices, reducing costs through economies of scale, and be the biggest buyer of health care (which has many benefits – such as oversight, setting expected service levels, etc.).

Those opposed to Government getting involved in health care claim that it’s too expensive for the Government and the Government is not good at running anything.  Yes, Government run health care will be an additional burden, in the short-term, to the the tax payers.  But, are we a compassionate society that believes everyone should have health care or not?  I was brought up believing in helping others.  If it costs me another $500 of my income to pay into this new system and it says just one child’s life, then it’s worth it.  The truth is, the cost wouldn’t be that high and it would be less to those making less.  Again, how can you say that isn’t worth it?  In addition, after several years of a Government run health care program, cost savings will be seen throughout the economy (and thus a recoupment of initial outlays).  Cost savings will be  seen in slower rising premiums and smaller out of pocket costs.

Another argument, from those opposing the Government entering as player in health care, is that private industry can run things more efficiently than the Government.  Even if they were not the most efficient executor of health care, with the lack of profits, economies of scale, and resources available, they could still provide the same quality of service for less cost than the profit-making health industry giants.  VA and Medicade/Medicare are examples of cost savings through a Government run program.

Quite frankly, the solution is to have  a fully socialized health care program in this Country.  However, that will never occur as health care is too big a giant to kill and rebuild.  But, a Government run health care option will put the checks on the industry that are needed.

To those opposed – what is your solution?  How will you guarantee health care for 46 million Americans?

Mr. President, there has Never Been a Time Like Now to Pass Healthcare Reform (article 1 of 3)

If President Obama isn’t careful, he is going to let a golden opportunity to go by.  As cliche as the phrase is, being used by so many politicians to demagogue so many issues, it rings true with healthcare: “There has never been a better time or a more important time to act on healthcare.  Never will we see this opportunity again.”

The stars are aligned for major healthcare reform – torpedoes be damned!  Full speed ahead! That is what President Obama should be doing right now.  Why:

  • President Obama was elected with a clear mandate (another cliche) for change.  He won a majority of the electorate – 52%.  This was the highest total in 2o years.  People expect this President to bring change.  His historic election and the enthusiasm should carry him to be successful in his policies and have the trust of the American people.
  • The majority of the American people want reform.  59% are concerned about the health care in this Country per a Washington Post/ABC News poll in late June.  This has dropped, but it’s not because people don’t want reform, but because the President hasn’t been the staunch advocate to rally support he should be.  Regardless, people see a real issue with healthcare.
  • Costs are spiraling upwards and more and more people are getting caught short without healthcare.  The evidence is dramatic, apparent, and scary.  It’s not a hard case to make that something needs to be done.  The disagreement might be on what, but not that there isn’t a problem.
  • Political memories are short.  President Obama needs to put it on the line.  He’s got four years to work with.  If the plan works, he can reap the benefits and his naysayers will have less to attack.  If it fails, he can still prove his Presidency through all the other legislative agendas that are planned.  Yes, Congress has an election next year.  But the President has enough political capital to ram this through.  If he waits, that will go away and as mid-terms get closer, the opportunity will close.
  • It’s the right thing to do.  The difference between a good politician and great politician is guts.  It’s doing what you believe to be right and dealing with the consequences.  It’s Roosevelt and the New Deal.  It’s Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was Abraham Lincoln and slavery.  Obama wants to be a great President.  But words alone don’t make it so. Nor does trying to pacify everyone.  It’s the right thing to do. It’s what Democrats and Liberals stand for.
  • The numbers in both the House and the Senate for the Democrats are as high as you should ever expect to see.  A pseudo-filibuster proof majority in the Senate and a significant advantage in the House.  You don’t need bi-partisan support.  You can do it yourself.   No negotiating, no need to water down.  You can do what you want.

Regardless of what the media state or what is portrayed by the drug and insurance companies, people want change.  Couple that with a popular president, an overwhelming  majority in Congress, the moral high-ground, and in early in the Presidency – he’s got a recipe to go for doing what he wants with healthcare.

Compromise should not be an option.  The GOP has overplayed their hand.  Kudos to them.  They came out of the gate the right way- strong, on message and dedicated.  But like Obama, instead of holding some of their cards close to their vest – they played them all.  They have admitted they don’t want reform, that they won’t support any bills, and are going to slow down the progress of a bill.  This was their fatal error.  The President can regain control of the debate.  Those things – the public option, employee mandate, etc – are all back in play.  If the President truly wants to be a great one, he needs to pass the bill we need instead of the political bill the Congress wants.

The ire of the left was not anticipated by the Administration and the media.  The right-wing has so often been able to demagogue any issue they choose, they didn’t realize there is a new breed of liberals tired of compromise and willing to raise their voice.

If you support healthcare reform – raise your voice. Raise it to the politicians, raise it to the media, your friends, and your co-workers.  If reform doesn’t happen now, it’s not going to happen in any meaningful form for many years to come.

A compromise will be just as bad.  This is not like the civil rights movement, as some have equated where small incremental changes worked until all issues were addressed.  The outrage is not the same.  The ability for the GOP to sell a compromise as the end all of the healthcare debate will be strong. No.  The full reform needs to occur now.  Those who live in blue-dog democrat areas need to rally support, as the Liberal Crab does with Frank Krativol in his home district.   We need to let them know that unless they support a comprehensive solution, they aren’t helping solve the problem and they need to be replaced.

46 million uninsured Americans is too much.  Tripling of healthcare costs is too much.  If it doesn’t touch on you now, it will touch you or someone you love soon.  Whether it’s the family member with cancer, or the child that needs surgery to fix his heart, or you needing your drugs to take away your chronic pains.  It affects all of us and we need to make the chance now.  We let it slip away in 1992.  As the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Mexico, even Cuba have socialized medical programs that the people want – we continue to debate on false grounds of Nazism, Socialism, or selfishness.  Rather, the debate must be on what is the right solution.

This is the first of three articles regarding healthcare.