Monday, July 27, 2009

Health Care Reform

All right, I don't know anything about what's going on with the current health care issues. My vague understanding is that our current health care system is deplorable, a money-making racket that doesn't pay out to the consumer, and that the Democrats are working to reform it while the Republicans present a series of obstacles to resolution. Now I'm going to read a bunch of news articles and see if I can learn something more substantial than this.

This Buffalo News columnist suggests that Sen. Clinton's health care reform plan would have covered all Americans for "less money" (than what?). He suggests Obama's original plan would not have covered everyone, but that he changed it to a universal plan just prior to his election. He also says Obama is changing the issue from "health care reform" to "health insurance reform." I don't think these terms are equivalent, and I would not suggest Obama can't tell the difference between insurance and the care provider, so I think the inflection is the columnist's. Also, this seems to be a conservative columnist as the only people commenting on his article are libelous conservative conspiracy theorists.

To research: How much was Hillary's plan projected to cost?

In the Letters to the Editor of the Seattle Times, one writer hates the idea of the government covering everyone's health care costs, citing the failure of Medicare (which was mainly intended to cover people over 65), a government-run single-payer health care system (doctors/hospitals are paid by a single fund). Her evidence is anecdotal and second-hand, and she projects that any universal health care system will fail because Medicare did.

Another writer rejects the plan (which plan?) because it has too many pages and that it does not contain a sweeping, overnight solution.

A third writer points out the double-standard of certain politicians (not specified), in that they demand the health care reform cost of $1 trillion must be paid up-front and cannot be distributed over ten years, then insisting that this is an impossibility, while approving billions of dollars for the war in Iraq and the Wall Street bailout.

To research: Which politicians are these? What are their stances on health care reform, the Iraq war, and the Wall Street bailout? What makes Medicare so bad?

The Caucus, a political blog on the New York Times site, reports that the Senate Finance Committee is trying to draft a bill before "Senate leaves town" (what? why?) on August 8. It reiterates the $1 trillion/ten-year bill and mentions the possibility of taxing high-end health plans. I'm not sure what jurisdiction the Blue Dog Coalition (moderate and conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives) has over health care issues, but it seems that seven distinct fiscal conservatives in that group are purposely blocking the progress of this bill.

The Blue Dogs claim to wish to find a compromise between the liberal and conservative positions, but everything I've read about them (so far) illustrates them as a group formed within the Democratic party to counter and obstruct their own party. As of 2007 over a dozen of them have boycotted contributing party dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

To research: Why don't the Blue Dogs join the Republican party? Are they an "away team" dispatched to sow discord from within, a la The Grapes of Wrath? Why would progressive and liberal activists support a group that approved war funding and supported warrantless wiretapping?

Summary: I have a lot of homework to do. There's a lot of background information I need before I can approach the health care reform matter. In contrast, USA Today's article on obesity increasing health care costs seems surprisingly naive from a responsible news source. Yes, obese people with obesity-related health issues need more health care. But it doesn't start there: what made them obese? Lack of sufficient government programs to put a cap on misleading advertising for junk food and soft drinks, or promote nutrition and exercise in terms of education as well as facilities and resources. You can't announce "people buying things makes things expensive" and pretend that's the end of the story. Go back, go to the source, identify the problem and promote a solution.


Nicholas Lee said...

Blue Dogs are just Southern Democrats. The further south you go, the more conservative you get, regardless of your party.* It has to do with entitlement. Liberal Democrats are seen by Blue Dogs as not being "true Democrats." So the Blue Dogs have this idea they will "save" the party. Because of the tradition or some such B.S.

*Except for those of us who are stuck here despite being terribly liberal due to economic and personal factors. We just have to grin and bear it.

As for health care reform, the only real obstacles to it come from those who stand to lose from it. This means conservatives who receive money from insurance companies.

It seems to me a foregone conclusion that insurance companies are by nature corrupt. They stand to profit from the suffering of others and to lose from their aid. I can think of no more problematic relationship with the client. At least pharmaceutical companies technically have to provide medicine that has some beneficial effect.

I think the right stance on health care reform is pretty obvious. We need it, therefore we should do it.

Christian said...

I'm surprised I've gone so long into life and never heard of the Blue Dog Dems before. Or I have and blew them off, a terrible mistake considering the Protect America Act of 2007.

I've never understood how an insurance company, doing its job to its fullest capacity, could stay in business. The easiest and most profitable out is to deny claims, making it a scam. Maybe Obama's changing his focus currently, but both health care and health insurance need serious overhaul.