Thursday, December 15, 2005

MCDERMOTT ON HEALTHCARE

The very left-wing Congressman from Washington State's seventh congressional district blogs via Huffington Post on the "healthcare crisis," with a special emphasis on the impacts of recent actions by automakers:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-jim-mcdermott/us-auto-industry-wants-_b_12292.html

If you can get by the rhetoric and the messenger, the message has merit.

Two claims in particular stand out:

"Companies like General Motors and Ford cite the cost of providing health care coverage as a major factor in their current financial crises. So, quietly, behind the scenes here on Capitol Hill, the domestic auto industry has begun talking to lawmakers about a bailout. They are looking for tens of billions of dollars next year..."

Well, its been done before, which almost certainly means it will be done again.

McDermott goes on to claim that US auto industry representatives have expressed strong support for Universal Healthcare - in Canada:

"I ask permission to enter into the record a letter that sets the record straight- and gives us a chance to finally confront America’s health care crisis. The letter was sent separately to the Canadian government by Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Daimler Chrysler and the union representing auto workers in late 2002. The so-called big three U.S. car companies put their full support behind publicly funded health care -- in Canada..."

Excerpts from the letter follow, ending with:

"“In addition to reinforcing the quality and accessibility of health care for Canadians, these measures would also help to ensure the long-run success of Canada’s auto industry.”"

During Slick Willie's first term, "Hillarycare" - an enormous, complicated plan to provide universal health care - crashed and burned. Even among Democrats, support was surprisingly thin. In the intervening decade, while other safety-net programs have been reformed with an eye toward limitation, programs providing medically related benefits have either been maintained or increased on State and Federal levels, most recently epitomized by the medicare prescription drug benefit championed by the "conservative" GWB...

Today, the government on one level or another is contributing to or fully providing for the healthcare of the elderly, the disabled, and many of the very poor.

And, of course, their own employees... And Congress...

Meanwhile, millions of workers have lost their insurance due to layoffs or "do or die" renegotiations of contracts - including those employed by major airlines and most recently Ford, GM, and their suppliers.

At the same time, Wal-Mart, the Nations largest private employer, has seen its compensation packages come under fire by activists who note that thousands of Wal-Mart employees make so little their dependents are eligible for govenment-sponsored healthcare.

Today, the best healthcare in the world is available here in the US - if you are filthy rich, a member of Congress, or one of a rapidly shrinking group of people covered by sweetheart union contracts in industries that are collapsing under the weight of those commitments.

If you are very poor, disabled, or over 65 the government will subsidize your care to a minimal but adequate level.

If you are in the middle, you are screwed. Most public sector employees and millions in the private sector can only afford the barest of coverage due to the rapidly escalating contribution requirements. Millions more have no employer-sponsored insurance at all.

The middle is growing.

True conservatism leavens a core belief in "least government best government" with a hard-nosed practicality. The practical costs - political, social, and financial - of the current non-system are escalating beyond any reasonable expectation of self-correction by market forces.

This is a time bomb. If the always disorganized Democratic party could get its act together, Republicans could find themselves facing the issue from hell on this - especially if GM and Ford really do ask for huge bailouts.

If the bailouts aren't forthcoming and the industry collapses, much of the economy could go with it.

If they do get them, but ordinary people continue to lose out, all the ugly charges which have been hurled at "the party of the rich" will be hurled again with renewed ferocity.

Republicans need to bite the bullet and take this issue away from the Democrats. While they still control Congress, and perhaps to insure future control, they need to craft and pass a "basic" universal healthcare package with strong private sector involvement.

It's going to happen eventually. If it happens during a period of Democratic control, two things are certain:

The plan will be neither basic nor private...

Comments:
Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.
 
Of course, none of this addresses the underlying causes of the skyrocketing costs of health care: LAWYERS.
The legal industry has forced the Insurance industry to raise coverage rates for the medical profession to extreme levels, with the ripple effect that treatment and health insurance rates go up commensurately. The only real winners here are the lawyers (all the lawyers: The ones for the patients, the practitioners, the insurance companies, and even the government).
Of course, since 70% of Senators are lawyers, and Lawyers are one of the primary contributors to political campaigns, nothing substantial will be done about this.
So we treat the symptopms, instead of the disease...
 
Most of the middle class can afford the routine cost of immunizations, x-rays, minor medical & surgical procedures. HSA's are good for this type of thing. What is needed is catastrophic medical insurance for the really big, unexpected medical procedures that can bankrupt a family. The unions & legislatures should rethink their stand on this & quit trying to cover everybody with first dollar coverage. Instead they grandstand & make examples of the really unfortunate who are caught without a safety net & then blame the government for not providing enough.
 
I am mindful of a bumper sticker I saw once which said, "if you think health care is expensive now, what till it is free". Yes Canada has universal healthcare, but don't dare have a heart attack or need a major operation or you will be in trouble. It's called rationing. People from Canada are coming here to get major surgery done.

I would rather have medical tax free savings accounts to encourage competition and consumer thriftyness
 
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