Thursday, September 30, 2010

Conflicting Views of the Healthcare Plan

     Recently a friend told me she didn't understand why so many people are opposed to President Obama's healthcare plan, especially since it was one of the major programs he championed during his highly successful campaign. I told her that the main reason is because it has been so rigorously badmouthed by the conservative right (along with every other program the President has presented). Joseph Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
     A major objection voiced by the party of “no” is that requiring everyone to have health insurance is unconstitutional – the government cannot force people to buy something they don't want.
     There is one major argument that says it can: all states require that drivers buy liability insurance to protect the innocent driver from incurring expenses which are not his fault. It's an easy step to apply the same logic to health insurance – through either higher medical fees, charity, Medicaid or other fund the public always pays the medical costs of the uninsured.
     As of September 20th attorneys general from 20 states have brought suit attempting to block implementation of the program on constitutional grounds. Undoubtedly this case will reach the Supreme Court, and given the Court's conservative makeup at this time, it is impossible to predict what will happen.
     Perhaps the biggest problem with understanding the program is that the administration has done a poor job of explaining just what is in it. According to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll, only 43% of those surveyed support the new legislation while 45% give it an unfavorable review.
     Yet when questioned as to individual items in the bill, the results were dramatically different. Observe the favorable/unfavorable answers when asked about the following provisions taking effect in the next year:
     Guaranteed issue for children – 72/19, tax credits for small business – 71/11, no cost sharing for preventive services in new plans – 70/11, no recission except for fraud – 68/15, gradually close Medicare “doughnut hole” - 64/14, high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions – 61/20, giving government the power to control the Medical Loss Ratio (the amount of dollars an insurer spends on medical care divided by the total premiums) – 57/21, eliminate caps on lifetime benefits – 56/26, allowing dependents to remain on parents' insurance until age 26 – 53/26, Federal reviews of health plan premium increases – 49/27, and limiting increases in Medicare provider payments – 43/34.
     The Limbaugh/Palin/Beck contingent screams “socialism” at the very thought of giving the government any control whatsoever of the health insurance industry. But to me, the only purpose of health insurance is to pay one's medical bills. Why should I care whether the organization issuing the check is an insurance company or the government?
     The healthcare plan we got is a compromise; the duplication of functions coupled with the cost of enforcing the law is unbelieveable.
     Someone once said that a camel is a horse put together by a committee. Imagine a camel with the hind legs of a giant frog and the wings of an eagle; that would not be as big a freak as what finally emerged from Congress. But it's probably the best we can get.

     A second problem brought on by our language is the impression that we are an entity separate from nature. Although we are different from any other natural entity by virtue of our use of language, we are as deeply imbedded otherwise as a mountain stream or a deer. Anything that exists, even a merest wisp of existence in far off space, is a part of nature.
     Summing Up – The Spirit Runs Through It.

     The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle.

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