REPEAL ObamaCare NOW? AS IF…

Newly invigorated repugnicans led by Congressman John Boner (OH) and Senator Mitch McCankle (KY) rapaciously wax daily about “repealing” ObamaCare. The greed has them salivating. Will it happen? No!

One of the many people unable to get adequate mental care under the current private insurance system.

Facts simply stand in the way, but too many people I know still ignore the reality facing this nation — WE ARE NO LONGER WEALTHY ENOUGH TO PROFLIGATELY EMBRACE THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE AND LEAST EFFECTIVE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

Very Simple.

As many of you already know, Obama’s new health-care plan will allow your doctor to put down your grandmother like a rabid dog if she comes down with arthritis, bursitis, or just “a case of gastric distress.”

I’m kidding, of course. Granny’s life will actually be up to a Government-Appointed Panel of Socialist Veterinary Students. Your doctor will have nothing to do with it.

As many Americans have discovered, well reasoned health-care policy can only be reached through the careful application of shouting. Shouting masks the mind-control techniques favored by secular death-panel advocates everywhere. Tin-foil underpants are optional — but if they’re good enough for Glenn Beck, they’re good enough for me.

All jesting and jousting aside, health-care reform is a serious, serious issue.

And as such, it deserves serious debate.

Across the nation, the issue isn’t accorded that type of serious debate because discussing health care reform with the self-proclaimed “conservative” movement is like discussing international monetary policy with a troop of baboons, except the baboons throw less poo.

I want to have a real discussion on this issue.

Health Care Reform is too important not to talk about it, but if we’re going to have a serious national conversation, we need to at least agree on the facts.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one’s allowed their own set of facts.

Let’s nail down the FACTS about American health care, and then we can talk intelligently about how we can reform it, or if reform is even needed.

The Real Debate: is not whether we should have Universal healthcare — which really shouldn’t even be a debate — but whether it should be a more federated healthcare system, or more centrally controlled.

At the unspoken core of repugnican efforts to “derail” ObamaCare, the outcome will be very simple: primarily federal or individual state power centers for the reform program… but the ObamaCare reforms will still actually happen.

Speaker-Of-The-House-Elect John Boner’s main argument against reform, regurgitated daily in the news, is that the United States has the best health care in the world. Pshaw… I’d like to test THAT theory.

A few things to note:

  • Every other “First World” nation – every single one of them – has some form of “Universal Health Plan,” what is actually one form or another of government-mandated/sponsored/or provided HEALTH-CARE ACCESS program.
  • We are the only industrialized nation that does not ensure Health-Care Access to its Citizens (Judgement Call: To me, this makes us NOT the greatest nation on earth, amongst other reasons not pertinent to this discussion. It makes us a callous… negligent… and irresponsible nation.)

So let’s see how the U.S. privatized fee-for-service system compares to the the health care provision systems found around the world.

Costs

One of the greatest fears I have heard, over and over again is that government-run health care will cause costs to skyrocket. Let’s see how costs are doing today under our private health-care system.

Oye! THAT doesn’t look too good : (

According to the OECD data, we spend more per capita on health-care than any other nation on earth — by a large margin. But, as is the case with fiscal deficits, often this type of massive spending is rationalized by pointing out that our GDP is much higher as well, so the total cost as a percentage of our GDP is still low. Let’s see if that pans out here.

Urgh! Wait… that’s… that’s? Crap! It’s just the facts : )

Let’s check the OECD data again: Actually, looking at our costs as a percentage of the GDP makes things worse.

It’s an indisputable fact that the United States has the most expensive health-care system in the world.

But hey! Sometimes the most expensive is the best (I don’t think I own anything that is “the cheapest”). We’re worth it… I am… You probably are too. Let’s take a look at what we are buying with our money.

Effectiveness

We need a metric to measure whether our health-care system is demonstrably “better” than systems used in other countries. What does having the “best” health-care system in the world mean? Seems the only fair way to determine this was to measure the health of the entire nation. Even if we do have some of the most advanced life-saving techniques, that doesn’t matter if only a few can afford them (I know some of us don’t really care about “the others” in our society so long as they themselves are well situated, but that’s another discussion about personal dysfunction).

Thus, the fairest benchmark for a health-care system is to identify that system which provides the best end result: life expectancy.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, the United States ranks 50th in the world in life expectancy — a little above Albania. This isn’t just a case of not being number one. This is a case of almost dropping out of the top 50.

One argument I have heard for why our life expectancy is lower is that Americans have a poor diet and do not exercise enough. Or to restate it somewhat: “We’ll admit that were fat and lazy, just don’t criticize our health-care system.”

Well, perhaps we could find another metric to remove “lifestyle issues” from the equation. Oh, yes… here it is:

Oh, man… this is just not going well : (

According to the CIA, we rank 45th in the world in infant mortality. Infants do not eat poorly or fail to exercise. I’m not going to make a joke about this, because it is just too depressing. It goes without saying that the 44 countries that rank higher than us on this chart all have a national health-care provision plan.

Coverage

According to the 2006 census, the United States had about 50 million uninsured citizens (and it is certainly worse now), compared to zero for countries with single-payer systems like Japan, Canada and the UK. Those systems do a better job providing insurance to all of their citizens.

But, hey! Our private insurance system still provides full coverage for about 84% of our population, right?

Actually, no it doesn’t:

Again according to the census, an additional 27% of the United States population is enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid or other government-sponsored health-care programs. That means the private insurance health-care system actually only provides full coverage for 57.2% of the U.S. population. This number does not include harder to pin down statistics like the “under-insured” — people who have token health insurance plans that provide little to no real coverage.

These government programs are “socialized medicine.” Egads! The socialized medicine we’ve been told to fear has actually been an integral part of American health care for 45 years. If you dispute it works well, try taking Medicare away from seniors. And if you fear “rationing,” what else do you call it when there isn’t enough health care for everyone?

Conclusions

To sum up, let’s look at a quick chart to glimpse the performance of the United States health-care system versus the two single-payer systems to which we are most often compared:

Most of these numbers are from 2006, the last year that complete statistics were available, though newer figures are due out soon. Since that time, we have had an economic bubble burst and have teetered on the edge of a new great depression, stopping at “only” a Great Recession. You may accurately assume that the numbers have gotten worse.

These are the types of cold, hard facts that I look at when I am trying to decide what I think we should do about health care.

The facts are simple and quite clear:

  • We spend far more than any other country on health care;
  • we die earlier and have a higher infant mortality rate; and
  • we fail to provide coverage to 50 million Americans.
  • We also have had successful “socialized medicine” programs — Medicare and Medicaid — in place since 1965.

Sarah Palin invites America to bend over -- now cough

AND NOW… THE DISCUSSION

I know debate remains about how we pay for a national health plan, how it will function, whether it should be mandatory, etc. But in the run-up to passing “ObamaCare” those important issues were drowned out by Sarah Palin’s ridiculous “Death Panels” and screaming matches at town halls where — instead of making sound arguments — the strategy appeared to be “make sure no one else can be heard.”

Today, we hear Congressman John Boner ejaculate about REPEAL! REPEAL!

Get real John, and go tea bag your wife or maybe Sarah, instead of the nation.

In all honesty, I acknowledge that other countries have their own problems regarding health care, but to have a valid argument against ensuring health care access to all citizens, you will have to demonstrate that those problems are worse than our own to be correct that I am wrongand recall that the facts regarding costs and outcome trump your assumptions, preferences, biases, fairytales, and ideology. In the end, the only thing that matters is reality, period.

I know people are intrinsically afraid of a government panel deciding who gets health care, but it’s been shown again and again that insurance companies have a vested, monetary interest in denying you coverage as often as possible — so you are already at the mercy of some faceless panel that determines if you are allowed access to the treatment and care which may save your life or make it reasonably healthy.

I support the current health-care reform initiatives. I know not all of you do. If you can refrain from bombast and hyperbole and make arguments based on facts, I’d like to discuss the issue — if you have documented and reputable facts at your disposal, then by all means, feel free to toss in the bombast and hyperbole… but only if you have reality-based and proven facts.

—–

OBAMACARE ACTUALLY republican PLAN REFINED OVER THE DECADES!

ObamaCare Health Reform is not nearly as momentous as the passage of Medicare in 1965 and won’t fundamentally alter how Americans think about social safety nets, but the passage of Obama’s health care reform bill was the most significant and progressive action Congress has taken in decades, with enormous economic significance for our collective future.

Medicare directly changed the life of every senior in America, giving them health security and dramatically reducing their rates of poverty.

By contrast, most Americans won’t be affected by Obama’s health care legislation. Most of us will continue to receive health insurance through our employers. (Only a comparatively small minority will be required to buy insurance who don’t want it, or be subsidized in order to afford it. Only a relatively few companies will be required to provide it who don’t now.)

Medicare built on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal notion of government as insurer, with citizens making payments to their government, and the citizens’ government paying out benefits. That was the central idea of Social Security, and Medicare piggybacked on Social Security.

Obama’s legislation comes from an alternative idea based upon private insurers and employers, begun under the Eisenhower administration and developed under Nixon, then drafted in codified form by… wait for it… wait (oh, I love this!)… republicans through Newt Gingrich’s private health care economics consulting firm! Oh my! But, hey… conservatives… don’t let this fact stand in the way of a good, if senseless, battle.

The idea was then and the law is now of a market for health care based on private insurers and employers.

  • Eisenhower locked in the tax break for employee health benefits;
  • Nixon pushed prepaid, competing health plans, and urged a requirement that employers cover their employees.
  • Newt Gingrich codified the objectives and private-market mechanism in the years after leaving the House as Speaker.
  • Obama applies Nixon’s idea plus Gingrich’s business model and takes them a step further by requiring all Americans to carry health insurance… and providing subsidies to those individual citizens and small business owners who need it.

So don’t believe anyone who says Obama’s health care program marks a swing of the pendulum back toward the Great Society and the New DealObama’s health program is a very conservative piece of work, building on a republican rather than a New Deal foundation.

The New Deal foundation I prefer and for which I have advocated would have offered Medicare to all Americans or, at the very least, featured a public insurance option.

The significance of Obama’s health legislation is more political than substantive. For the first time since Ronald Reagan told America government is the problem, Obama’s health law reasserts that government can provide a major solution. In political terms, that’s a very big deal… and the very reason for republican and Tea Bagger hostility.

Most Americans continue to be suspicious of government — me too, but it’s the government of the “people” that we Americans keep blunderously installing. That distrust is deeply etched in our culture and traditions. Our system of government was devised by people who distrusted government and intentionally created checks and balances, three separate branches, and almost insuperable odds against getting big things done. That may have been sufficient in an eighteenth century reality, but it is a foolish and self-destructive approach to national success today.

The period extending from 1933 to 1965 — the New Deal and the Great Society — was a historical aberration from that long tradition, animated by the unique crises of the Great Depression and World War II, and the social cohesion that flowed from them for another full generation. Ronald Reagan merely picked up where Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover left off.

And, your current difficulties obtaining real wage increases, widely dispersed and increased wealth, advanced education for your families, health care for your child with a serious genetic disease or handicap of accident… your stagnant standard of living is the result of collectively choosing to revert back to the outdated path of the eighteenth century. Enjoying it? The Chinese are certainly enjoying our folly!

Reagan’s view of government as the problem is increasingly at odds with a nation whose system of health care relies on large for-profit entities designed to make money rather than improve health; whose economy is dependent on global capital and on global corporations and financial institutions with no particular loyalty to America; and much of whose fuel comes from unstable and dangerous areas of the world. Under these conditions, government is the only entity that can look out for our interests.

We will not return to the New Deal or the Great Society, but nor will we continue to wallow in the increasingly obsolete Reagan view that we don’t need a strong and competent government. ObamaCare actually confirms our hope that we can have both strength and competence in Washington. It is an audacious hope, but we have no choice. We are too poor nationally at this point.

Already, the GOP’s early calls to repeal the bill look problematic. The insurance reforms in the bill are widely popular (not just with those who will benefit and receive coverage finally, but it is popular with most insurance companies and providers — over 50 million additional paying clients!), and even its tax increases (a large share of which hit the very wealthy… apologies of sorts to my friends that this hits, but good thing is that you can and will afford it) are tied to benefits that would flow to middle- or lower-middle income Americans.

In addition, most republicans concede a great deal when they say they would “replace” the plan and not simply return to the pre-reform status quo. Their slogan makes clear that all future arguments about health care will be premised on a more active government role. The debate will never be the same again.


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