Nothing New Under the Sun

Can you please help me?

I am not understanding President Obama’s health care reforms.  His main reasons for instituting reforms are to provide all Americans with health care at affordable prices and to stop the waste and abuse in our current system that he firmly believes will be the downfall of our entire economy.  I have no clue how his proposals will overcome those obstacles.

Here is what I am absorbing.  Every American will have access to health care, regardless of their employment status and pre-existing medical conditions.  All well and good.  Wait: how are these benefits going to be paid for?  Small business owners will be subject to around an 8% cost to cover these plans.  How will this responsibility not affect our economy?  And supposedly, even if a small business has one or two employees who get very sick and thus, drive up the overall costs for the other employees, the costs to insure them will not rise.  This is a fairy tale.

Any new plan must go to the heart of the matter, i.e. reining in costs.  This will not be possible unless tort reform, or medical malpractice insurance, is similarly confronted and reformed.  To date, President Obama has not dealt with this issue:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/06/15/obama-consider-malpractice-reform-bid-win-doctor-backing-health-care-plan/

How can doctors, hospitals and other health care deliverers bring down the high cost of excessive and wasteful testing when no one has their backs in our incredibly litigious society?  Unless caps are put in place to limit the malpractice awards, the cost of “covering your ass”  medicine will continue to burgeon.  Furthermore, the cost of handling the paperwork by health care providers to the various insurance companies  is economically crippling in and of itself.  Some economists have estimated that the filing and processing of claims can eat up between 10% and 20% of  a medical facility’s budget.  Surely a single payer system would alleviate these unnecessary costs.  Do you have any other answers for me?

I am coming to the conclusion that capitalism and health care do not play well together.  The government, understandably hesitant about moving to a single payer system, thinks that by maintaining “competition” the market will right itself.  Hogwash.  Independent private insurance companies have been calling the shots and bilking the American people for decades.  With some profit estimates upwards of 30%, do not tell me that the insurance companies are not motivated primarily by their ever-increasing bottom lines.  Moreover, there is no other major industry, besides the health care industry, that is regulated by and subject to the whims and profit motives  of another capitalistic sector of the economy.  Like it or not, for-profit regulation of our medical sector will not afford the reforms we need.  Capitalistic profit motives have no place in a truly accessible, non-discriminatory health care system whose main goal is not to bust our economy.

It is not just the Republicans in Congress who are bucking President Obama’s plan; there are many progressive Democrats objecting as well.  I tend to agree with them.  What good is a replacement health care policy that has no caps on costs, no restrictions on soaring  premiums and places the burden of meeting these costs on private businesses?  It is taking from Peter to pay Paul.  To me, it sounds just like the “system” we already have.

Peter Orzag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, has called these GOP and Democrat health care dissenters “spoilers” of a sort:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/19/orszag-republicans-trying_n_239888.html

Orzag just may be wrong.  With President Obama’s popularity ratings dipping below 60% for the first time since he took office coupled with the historical fact that new legislation has the highest chance of enactment if proposed during a new President’s first year in office, I do understand the urgency to get health care reform done.  But fellas, is a new half-assed plan better than the half-assed plan we already have?  If passed, will this “new” program not crumble beneath our feet because it does not address the true reform we need?  Will this economic devastation bring down our entire economy?  And if that happens, will we finally get the single-payer, universal insurance we so desperately need?

I heard an interesting story on the radio the other day.  An historian was recalling the early days of NASA.  He told of the effort to send a live animal, specifically a pig, in to space to make sure it would be safe for human space travel.  So they designed this cradle, placed the pig on its back and harnessed it in.  Almost immediately, the pig was dead.  One of the observing scientists recalled that, since he grew up on a farm, didn’t everyone know that if you placed a pig on his back he would almost instantaneously die due to suffocation by his belly fat?  Thus, NASA continued their research using monkeys.  The point of this story is that this “new” health care proposal seems to be more of the same, i.e. “belly fat” that will surely kill an already crippled system.

Please feel free to tell me what I am not getting.  Am I missing the big picture or perhaps even the small details?  I need all the explanations you can come up with.  So far, this health care reform bill seems like nothing new under the sun, purely belly fat, that might be the final nail in the coffin of not only true universal health care, but also our economic health.

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One Response to “Nothing New Under the Sun”

  1. paontheweb Says:

    It seems like you do understand. Common sense has to rule or we will destroy the very fabric of our nation. Socialism and the like have been tried all around the world by well meaning people. It just doesn’t work. I believe both liberals and conservatives want everyone to be healthy and pain free. I know I never met a mean Republican that wanted people to suffer. How we get there is the issue.

    I’m also a small business owner and these taxes etc. will definitely hurt my business. I doubt I will need to lay off but I surely won’t be able to hire new folks.

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