Tonight, ABC will broadcast from the White House “the plan” for resolving the healthcare crisis. What crisis? I was totally unaware that people were dropping dead in their tracks in a plague-like manner on our city streets. But lets look at some of the facts.
The first point that is always made is that there are 46 million people in the United States that do not have health insurance. But do the facts actually support these numbers? From a February 2007 article at Renew America:
Number 1 — Roughly 20 percent of the uninsured in this country are not citizens. Ergo, 36 million Americans lack insurance. Immigrants without insurance are a serious problem. But that is an immigration issue, not a health insurance matter.
Number 2 — Only about half the uninsured Americans at any given time are without insurance 5 months later. In our mobile society, 84 percent of the uninsured are without coverage for less than 24 months. Or as Gratzer puts it: "The executive who leaves his corner office at Citigroup to look for greener pastures may soon join the ranks of the uninsured…If the gentleman lands a vice presidency at a rival bank, we would consider that a success story. Yet, statistically speaking, he became apart of the group of "uninsured Americans."
Number 3 — The uninsured are not a relatively homogeneous group — poor. The single mom with three children is not uninsured — she has Medicaid — as do her children and their neighbors.
Number 4 — Many Americans are uninsured by choice. Some of these are eligible for Medicaid, but choose not to sign up.
Number 5 (bottom line) — "A full 93 percent of Americans either are insured or could afford insurance."
So the remaining 7% is a crisis? No, not really, unless you are one of the 7% and are ill. And it is those people that need the help without the political grandstanding and rhetoric.
To cover those remaining 7% with insurance, President Obama via the Kennedy Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee is now wanting to create a government-run health insurance entity, a single-payer if you will, to compete with the existing health insurance companies to “keep the insurance companies honest.”
OK, so let me get this straight – Government is going to keep government honest while making sure everyone else is to. If you can say this five times and keep a straight face, then you should try your hand at acting or politics… As Wes Vernon stated:
Or more to point, how do we know that making the government both a "competitor" and the ultimate regulator is not a surefire way (if not a deliberate scheme) to put the government in the ultimate driver’s seat — running the entire health care system?
Some of Obama’s fellow liberals have openly said that’s what they intend. At least they’re honest. Others in his camp wink and tell the socialist ideologues to cool it — that they will get what they want. Just give them time to lull the booboise into thinking a government plan is not the Trojan horse to knock private sector insurers out of business so that we can have a "single-payer" system. They want to run America’s 1300 health insurance companies out of business. If you watched Glenn Beck on Fox News the other night, you saw clips of them saying exactly that.
"Single payer" sounds so nice and warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? How about "single-regulator?", "single dictator?", "single judge" as to whose life is worth saving?, or "single decider" — not as to whether health care will be rationed, but how to apply it without arousing the anger of the great unwashed until it’s a done deal?
So we have a big problem that rears its head before we can even enter the metaphoric room for a national conversation on the issue of health care reform: The president of the United States is not leveling with us. He is not a stupid man. He knows very well that when you create a government-entity to "compete" with private insurers, it takes no brain surgery to conclude that as long as government is both player and referee, the government is in a heads-I-win/tails-you-lose situation. End result: a government health care monopoly.
Costs and care are big sticking points with any government-run program. After all, look at the shining examples of Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and one wonders why we would let the government control anything as important as our health choices. In fact, given the track record of our own government and the track records of health care systems in Canada & Europe, why would anyone think that this would end up being anything but a disaster? Because Obama says so? Horseradish!
The cost, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would be $1 Trillion over the next decade and would cover approximately one-third of the so called 46-million. There are other estimates that estimate the costs at $1.5 Trillion, although the CBO warned that health care costs are extremely hard to accurately estimate. This is on top of the stimulus bill already passed earlier this year.
Do I need to reiterate the horror stories from patients in Canada, England, and other European countries with government-run healthcare systems? These are examples that we need to understand as to why government-run healthcare is not going to help alleviate “the crisis,” no matter what good intentions there are nor how much money is thrown at the “problem.”
But I also know that our current system is not perfect. There are horror stories here too, and they are being used as reasons for reforming healthcare in this country. And I know of some people reading this blog have been affected adversely by this system. So instead of scrapping the current system and burdening the taxpayer more with another bureaucracy to support, let’s try to make things a bit easier.
One of the plans that shows some promise calls for a credit or voucher system. The proposal is called the “Patient’s Choice Act,” and is summarized by The Wall Street Journal:
Four Republicans in Congress — Sens. Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) and Richard Burr (North Carolina) and Reps. Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Devin Nunes (California) — will today introduce a bill that moves away from federal centralization. Aptly called the Patients’ Choice Act, it provides a path to universal coverage by redirecting current subsidies for health insurance to individuals. It also provides a new safety net that guarantees access to insurance for those with pre-existing conditions.
The nexus of their plan is redirecting the $300 billion annual tax subsidy for employment-based health insurance to individuals in the form of refundable, advanceable tax credits. Families would get $5,700 a year and individuals $2,300 to buy insurance and invest in Health Savings Accounts.
Low-income Americans would get a supplemental debit card of up to $5,000 to help them purchase insurance and pay out-of-pocket costs. They would have an incentive to spend wisely since up to one-fourth of any unspent money in the accounts could be rolled over to the next year. The combination of the refundable tax credit and debit card gives lower-income Americans a way out of the Medicaid ghetto so they can have the dignity of private insurance.
Perhaps this is a better proposal, one that works with the current system without tearing it down. And it seems to be less of a burden to the taxpayer.
I would much rather help people who really need it than create another mind-numbing bloated bureaucracy with a matching voice menu spouting the line “Please stay on the line – Your call is important to us.” If some people have their way, there would only be one place to go, and that would be government. And that, my friends, that is an extremely scary thought.