My (almost) final thoughts on the Healthcare Bill

22 03 2010

As Ms. Pelosi said the Republicans did have an amount of input on this. However MOST all of what the republicans argued against was included in this bill. For the most part democrats turn a deft ear to the republican party. But after suffering the defeats they did last election the republicans know only too well that raising taxes and building new government institutions and further intruding into the lives of the people is far from what the people want. The republicans, it would seem, got their wakeup call. The joyous rancor of election night apparently is still ringing in the ears of the democrats. They even missed the writing on the wall with the loss of “Teddy’s” seat…

For the democrats healthcare became a must win at all costs, and those costs are high with the inclusion of a vast array of non health related things added to the bill in order to get the support of democrats that were fundamentally opposed to it. Airports. Rail systems. a world of tokens and handouts to literally buy votes. I note the President DID in fact sit down with the republicans… and tell them that it would be done his way. “I won.” There support would be appreciated. Their input not so much.

There is much in this bill that is good. Much that republicans and democrats would gladly stand together and support. But in the end, with a bill, you don’t get to pick and choose which parts to vote yes on and which part to vote no. It becomes an all or nothing proposition. This bill was bad. Too big. Too costly. It was literally crammed down the publics throat. Fact is most of its supporters have little clue what’s in it, for them it was just to win. To beat the other side… because they had won and they somehow deserved it. Many even came right out and said so. Republicans weren’t welcome at the table, for the game was theirs.

That 100% of the republicans voted ‘NO’ should come as no surprise. This bill goes fundamentally against what republicanism is and the party stands for. After losing so bad last election no republican would dare stand in opposition to the will of their electorate. That lesson was well learned. What surprises me is how easily so many democrats waffled from one side to the other until they could get a “deal” to support it. Still many democrats wouldn’t budge from their ideals. They should be commended. They know they will suffer the wrath of their party for a few months… at least until election time.

The MAIN problem with this healthcare bill is that it doesn’t address the reasons why the cost of both healthcare and insurance have gone up – liability. Liability is the number one concern of providers as its cost is a tremendous part of their business expense (often in some specialties more than they can pay for). It’s the largest part of the cost of medications. Another big part of the cost of healthcare has been the burden placed on Americans to bare the cost of R&D in new procedures and medicines because of government cost controlled healthcare in other countries (Canada, England, France, etc.) won’t pay for that research. Who’s gonna pay for it now though, now that that cost won’t be born by us? Nobody. And that will result in fewer cures and less new breakthroughs in medications. Jerry Lewis can’t telethon for them all.

This bill PLUS reducing Medicare by 500 Billion dollars may cause (according to the New England Journal of Medicine) 46% of doctors to retire early or seek other fields… which will reduce availability of healthcare & drive up the cost. Many of the doctors that plan to keep practicing say they will stop taking Medicare patients… what will the people depending on it do?

Sadly there were some fairly easy fixes to the problems with the healthcare & insurance system in America, but those fixes weren’t even addressed in this bill. Unless some real competition comes into the insurance industry and there is some tort reform to address the liability issues healthcare costs will continue to spiral upward, costing the US worker and taxpayer more and more and more.

There are people that CAN, and there are people who CAN’T. We DO need to help those that can’t, but that’s where the quandary is, How? Far too often with government programs we find ourselves literally locking people into a segment of society they can’t easily escape. We’ve seen Welfare, meant to help put food on poor peoples table and roofs over their heads, create almost a whole class of people unable to climb out of poverty, which became generational as their children lost interest in obtaining their needs on their own. That hand out wasn’t a hand up, but a hand holding people down. We locked our grandparents into a retirement system and made them believe there was even less of a reason to plan and save for their future, then we robbed that future away with minimum wage increases that drove up prices faster than the cost of living increases that never truly met the cost of living, but were supposed to control that sort of thing. Energy prices sent through the roof due to government regulation. A Bio-fuel program that skyrocketed the cost of food. The result: A Social Security system NO ONE can expect to live comfortably on. Social Security might not even exist for my children… at least as we know it now. The government itself broke it.

In fact MOST of the problems we face right now are government inspired or created. From the cost of energy to the cost of your car mandate after mandate and tax after tax applies layers of costs. The housing market collapse, the banking industry collapse, and even our employment problems resulting from loss of industry can be directly related back to improper regulations that overburdened the system. Wanna know why baseline (hourly/entry level) employment has fallen over the last three years? America just last summer finished a three stage rise in the minimum wage, increasing that minimum over 40%… and ALL wages are based of the minimum, like it or not. If your salary didn’t go up over the last three years by 40% you in effect got a cut in wages. And that raise in wages had to be paid for, either by raising the cost of goods and services, or eliminating jobs… but have you heard that mentioned anywhere? I doubt it. Meanwhile the poor stay poor, only the numbers change. A pipedream… A vote buying joke on the poor.

I think the one thing we can all agree on is that reform with the current system is vastly needed. That is pretty much universally understood. The differences arise with whether or not the bill meets those needs, who really gets helped, and how it is all paid for. Some will see big benefits. Others will lose some benefits they now have. Some think that pre-existing conditions will be covered, but don’t realize that they may well have to pay for that coverage… and nobody can tell you for sure right now what that cost is going to be.

Many, if not most, will continue to see their insurance premiums continue to rise, for the added costs to the insurance companies will have to come from somewhere. Some will have those costs controlled by a government fund. Some will get tax breaks to offset those higher premiums. But there are companies out there that are surviving by the skin of their teeth, and adding any costs to them will be their demise. For others it will become cost prohibitive to expand, or add new employees. Yet for some this will be a chance to add coverage for employees. Yes, a Godsend for some, for again, this bill isn’t all bad. Most of it is an unknown, and some of what we do know about requires hope and maybe a large amount of luck. On one hand its said to be deficit neutral… but with a cost of over a Trillion dollars what does that other hand say?. A trillion dollars that has to come from somewhere if its not going to add to the deficit.

My hope is that we haven’t created another government monster that won’t do what it intended yet traps many into some system they can’t escape from. We all know something had to be done, and many of us knew what it was that could and should be done. Sadly, little of that was addressed in this bill. Expectations are high, and I hope they pan out… but the governments record on these things isn’t all that great.

This bill could have been a bright shinning example of America taking care of its own. Instead it became a vehicle of political payoff and patronage and a game of one up man ship, and a that’s a shame. …

-Al

 

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23 03 2010
My (Almost) Final Thoughts on the Healthcare Bill Big Al’s …

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