When we talk about “healthcare reform”, we have to define exactly what we mean by using the term. If by “reform” we mean removing government-imposed obstacles in order to allow a more competitive free-market private-sector environment, well… then I’m all for it.
For example, allowing insurance companies to compete in all markets nationwide, without heed to state borders, strikes me as a good thing. Removing barriers to increased free-market competition is Basic Econ 101.
In today’s news (here
) it seems Obama has finally realized that his plan to turn our entire health insurance industry into a government-run adjunct to Medicare and the VA system – the “single-payer” system – is falling into ruins at his feet. He’s “open” to the alternative of “co-ops” that are independently operated, purportedly abandoning his dedication to the “single-payer” approach.
If by “co-ops” we’re talking about the insurance industry equivalent of what credit unions are to the banking industry, I have no problem with this idea. As a matter of fact, this plan already exists. For example, Sears doesn’t use outside vendors to provide health insurance to its employees. It self-insures, which is essentially a co-op operated for the benefit of Sears employees. Many large companies do exactly this.
On the other hand, if we’re talking about “co-ops” wherein the government would still step in and use taxpayer dollars to pay the premiums of “poor people”, especially if participation is mandated, then this is simply the “single-payer” program in stealth mode.
There are three repugnant aspects of the “single-payer” plan: government funding; loss of the individual’s autonomy on issues of his own health care; and any “mandate” that people participate at all if they choose to not do so. ANY program that moves forward must avoid all of these aspects.
If the current national debate moves from “single-payer” and “public option” – meaning “supplied by the government at taxpayer expense” – to “co-op”, it’s going to become extremely important to keep a very wary eye on just exactly what that means. If “co-ops” are nothing more than government-operated and –funded programs, then this is nothing more than another cynical manipulation of language, just as “taxes” have become “fees” and “contributions”.
Some important facts to be aware of: according to the most recent Gallup poll on the topic, in November of 2007 (here
), 83% of Americans rate the healthcare they receive as “excellent” or “good”, and 70% rate their healthcare coverage (insurance) as “excellent” or “good”. This is reinforced by other polls (here
), which also reveal another very fascinating bit of information: only 8.4 million of the “uninsured” are dissatisfied with their healthcare in any way
Wait a sec! I thought there were 40 million or so people who were being left out in the cold. What happened?
I guess our system is already set up to take care of the uninsured, through emergency rooms, charitable organizations, and other existing options.
There is no “crisis”. This whole issue has been manufactured out of thin air by nanny-staters to impose ever more control over everybody by Big Government.
UPDATE, 18 AUGUST
It looks like it’s a good thing I posted this essay when I did, because it’s already obsolete. Today, Obama flip-flopped on the idea of “co-ops”, reaffirming his support of the “single-payer” system. No surprise there; he was drawing too much heat from his own base.
Interestingly enough, the Democrat sponsors of this legislation in the Senate are saying that the “public option” has no chance of passing in that house.
What, oh what, is a boy supposed to do?
UPDATE, 25 AUGUST
Reported in this month's VFW Magazine, which I received yesterday:
"VA's backlog of claims and appeals was more than 905,000 as of July 18, according to VA statistics. That represents an increase of some 15% from last year.
"VA's baclog includes over 732,000 unprocessed claims -- of which about 20% had been pending beyond 180 days -- and approximately 173,000 appeals awaiting decisions."
VFW Magazine, Sep 2009, page 10.
I can hardly wait for the government to take over the REST of the healthcare system.