Friday, June 19, 2009

The Root Of The Problem

I think I’ve figured out why Republicans and conservative Democrats are so at odds with progressives on the healthcare reform debate.

Progressives want to give everyone healthcare. The other side wants to give everyone health insurance.

Big difference, and it’s evident in the plans. Look at the GOP’s healthcare “plan”:
The four-page Republican health care outline lays out a plan that would allow states, associations and small businesses to pool together to offer health insurance. It would give tax credits to low and modest income Americans to help them buy health insurance. It would also let dependents under twenty-five stay on their parent's health insurance.

Here’s the plan that Tom Daschle, Howard Baker and Bob Dole have proposed:

Rather than a federal public option – a nonstarter for Republicans – the panel proposes financial and technical support for states that set up their own plans to compete with private insurers “on a level playing field.”

If after five years private plans aren’t meeting the need for affordable coverage, the president can use new fast-track procedures to set up a federal public plan.

Look, people: health insurance is not healthcare:

Over the last three years, according to research published in Health Affairs, out-of-pocket healthcare costs have increased 34% says WSJ.

Even having health insurance, it would seem doesn't appear to protect the average American against the rapidly escalating costs of health care and to prevent the health care system from taking a big bite out of household budgets.

So, everyone talking about making sure more Americans have health insurance: You’re focusing on the wrong thing.

I need you to show me how we can all get healthcare and if you think health insurance needs to be part of the mix, then let’s talk about why it’s necessary. But with healthcare costs going through the roof, even having health insurance doesn't guarantee that you can get the care you need. And again, Congress delivering 45 million uninsured on a silver platter to insurance companies will not solve the cost problem. It will simply make insurance companies richer.

And I have a special wag of the middle finger reserved for Sen. Lamar Alexander, who threw out the mother of all Hail Mary’s, fearmongering over a state income tax:

In an interview with The Tennessean on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander warned that a Democratic plan being considered in the Health, Education, Labor & Pension committee, on which he sits, would require a state like Tennessee to cough up a 10 percent income tax by 2015 to pay for it.

Geez, you can practically hear the refrain from “Psycho” playing in the background.

I called Senator Alexander’s office in D.C. to ask why he’d muddy the debate with fear tactics; the kid who answered the phone must have been hearing a lot from folks like me because he immediately explained that the Senator was merely giving a hypothetical. Oh, give me a break. This isn’t Alexander’s first rodeo, he knows how words like “state income tax” sound to voters. It’s another wingnut dog whistle, designed to rally the pack of rabid free-marketers across the state.

Let’s keep the debate fact-based, shall we, Senator Alexander?