Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jane Hamsher is Right

Forcing taxpayers to send trillions to private insurers for junk insurance is just plain wrong.

Anyone who thinks that mandating payments to insurance companies is healthcare reform should get a mandate to do a stint in reform school.

This non-partisan message is right, too:

If the current healthcare bill becomes law, it will be a healthcare disaster for the citizens of this country.

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  1. Actually, it doesn't affect 95% of those who currently have health insurance, because they have health insurance through their employer and the bill does no (zero) change to the current laws regarding employer-provided health insurance. The middle class largely has health insurance through their employers, so it will have almost no (zero) effect upon the middle class at all. The people it *will* affect are the working class -- those whose employers are too cheap to provide health insurance, but who cannot afford to buy health insurance themselves. For many of them, they will look at the numbers and decide that paying an additional 4% tax on their minimal income is cheaper than trying to find individual health insurance.

    In short, the bill is a tax on the working poor, not on the middle class.

  2. Hey, 'Tux,

    My greatest fear is that if the current bill becomes law, it will become an excuse for not legislating real reform for another 30 or 40 years. The bill retains many of the problems inherent within our badly broken system, and applying band-aids is no way to treat a gaping wound.

    We can--and must--do a better job of reforming the health care system than what legislators and insurance company lobbyists propose. The only health care reform I'll support is single payer that provides 100% total health care--medical, dental, hearing and vision--funded by a 10% tax on income (no floor, no ceiling, no loopholes for the rich).

  3. Phil, the system in the bill is basically a conglomeration of the Swiss and German systems. There's nothing *inherently* wrong with the basic health care financing architecture set up by the bill. It's not single-payer, but single-payer is not necessary in order to get the benefits we typically attribute to single-payer (reduction in paperwork and claims-processing expenses, reducing in overhead, etc.). Heavily regulating health insurers to limit their profits to a certain percentage, eliminating arbitrary denials of coverage and lifetime limits, preventing them from arbitrarily denying claims, and forcing them to use a common claims-processing center that enforces common claims policies across all insurers can get most of those benefits without single-payer.

    So I'm not arbitrary about single-payer the way you are, we can have universal health care without single-payer. Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria (amongst others) do it, after all. The question is whether we're going to regulate the health insurers sufficiently and give sufficient subsidies to the working class and lower middle class. to make this setup work. Right now I'm seeing no signs that this is going to happen. We'll have to see, I guess.

    - Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

  4. Regulation is key to the whole thing, isn't it, 'Tux? And how long will it be until health insurers' lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for politicians begin working to undermine the regulations? Can we reasonably expect that the insurance industry will be more moral and less corrupt than the banking industry? Not based on anything I've seen in my lifetime, we can't. Therefore, my support of single payer stands. The only way to get real reform is to kick the corporations to the curb.

  5. While I'm in general agreement with that, the problem is that in all the polls, the Swiss/German style multi-payer system polls higher than single-payer does. As in, 75% approval rating vs. 55% approval rating. And the chances of Democrats getting the spine to choose the less popular option are almost nil, jellyfish have more spine than the Democratic Congress.

    So it simply isn't going to happen unless the American people as a whole change their mind. The notion that health care should be a right rather than a privilege has overwhelming support from the American people -- as in, around 80% support in the polls I looked at. So the Republicans are pushing against the tide in their continual whining that health care should be a privilege rather than a right, there *will* be health care reform that has some measure of guarantee of universal health care. But unless more Americans support single-payer than support multi-payer -- and all the polls say this is not the case -- single-payer has as much chance of being passed as my cat has of solving quantum physics problems. It just ain't happen. So we have to look at the possible, rather than the perfect, and try to make it as good as possible rather than the ideal that we'd all like.

    - Badtux the Practical Penguin

  6. And there it is, neatly summed up in your last six words; everyone's ideals are different and it's nearly impossible to reach a consensus on anything.