Thursday, March 29, 2012

If Health Care Reform Falls, Look in the Mirror

 

Karen Dolan 

Karen Dolan is a fellow at the independent Institute for Policy Studies and Director of the Cities for Peace and Cities for Progress projects there. She specializes in domestic economic inequality issues.

At times those sitting dispassionately at the sidelines see much more than we do, those who are immersed in a chaotic system, and are attempting to salvage what we use on a daily basis.

Hypothetically we all want the same, an improved health system with benefits for all,  but are fearful of the unknown even if the present system is untenable.

In her Huffington Post Blog,

“Supporters of Obama's health care reform are "keeping a stiff upper lip" reports The Hill as reaction to three tough days of oral argument and questioning on aspects of President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA)."

“The entire health reform effort seems to hang in balance, dangerously. It looks like a very real possibility that Americans who do and will need health care, and who do or will have health conditions -- i.e., pretty much everyone -- will again be excluded from coverage for pre-existing conditions and others priced out of coverage at alarming rates if the unusually conservative and ideological Supreme Court backs the GOP”

It didn't have to be this way. We had the power to make things different. In fact, we still have the power to make things different.

“As poorly as the administration calculated, strategized, composed and communicated their reforms, they did what Administrations do. They brought industry to the table, they excluded single payer advocates, they vastly overestimated their ability to bring the other side on board, they vastly underestimated the extreme ideology that opposed reform and they botched the messaging of all of it.”

“Candidate Barack Obama campaigned on universal coverage. He told would-be supporters that, if he were "starting from scratch," single-payer would be ideal. Indeed, he even understood that the only true reform, that would sufficiently control costs and actually achieve universal coverage, was a single payer, government-sponsored health care system. The evidence is overwhelming that only such a system can achieve those goals.”

Of course this smacks of downright socialism, yet we already have a large segment of the population using socialized funding for healthcare (seniors, disabled, children in poverty.

President Barack Obama however, not only quickly abandoned any thought of a fight for a true universal system, he set his left flank where he wanted to end up: the public option.(VIDEO Robert Reich).   In addition to current private plans, geographical regions would have another choice, a "public option" which would have the power of the federal government behind it to negotiate down premiums.

But progressives did fight for the public option. With some notable exceptions, almost exclusively. Instead of being the rallying grassroots campaign and reasonable solution desired by all progressives, universal, single-payer health care became the pariah of the organized progressives, scoffed at and scorned as unachievable.

The administration should have allowed it, encouraged it, engaged it, used it. Progressives should have fought like hell for it.

“So, while progressives, Democrats, Americans who want affordable health care for all of us go forward wringing our hands and "keeping a stiff upper lip," blaming the misinformed conservative ideologues in Congress, in the Supreme Court, in Tea Party get-ups, perhaps we should take a long look in the mirror.”

If we had ended up with a single-payer system, then of course the "individual mandate problem" is non-existent. Even if we had ended up with a "public option," we would not have had this the question before the Supreme Court this spring. Justice Kennedy himself suggested so in his comments that the Individual Mandate problem could be avoided by a tax funded single payer national health service.

“This is a fight for the most basic value a society can have. Will we care for our people or let them become sick, bankrupt, disabled and die unnecessarily because we failed to fight for an affordable quality health care system that covers everyone. Will we slash every other government program virtually out of existence to fund an ever-escalating for-profit insurance system? Isn't it time to fight for Medicare for all?”

(GML)  It’s time to cut our losses, and not travel down a doomed path guaranteed to fail miserably at building a system that will keep us healthy. Perhaps we should not call it ‘health insurance’.  That system has not functioned effectively for many years.”

 

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