Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prognosis Negative

It's about time. Walker M.D. is on the case.

We've been having an arduous debate over health care reform. Now that reform has passed and been solidified by the Supreme Court, Scott Walker has weighed in with his opinion of what the results will be for Wisconsin.

Yes, with his well-known expertise in health care economics, Walker foresees trouble ahead for Wisconsin and America. Yes, Mr. Walker's medical and economics degrees sure do come in handy in this situation. Oh, wait...

[Even Tommy Thompson (outfitted with a Harley motorcycle and all) is running campaign ads promising to repeal health care reform.]

Um, yeah, so this isn't really well-reasoned analysis pursued in the interest of what's best for citizens and their health care. This is the Republican party marching-orders. Repealing "Obama" care is a central theme for Republicans in the next election cycle. Everyone running as a Republican will be running ads and writing op-eds talking about how bad "Obama" care is and how they will save their constituents by overturning it.

In all the smoke and mirrors, one thing every citizen should remember is this: Republicans are interested in power NOT policy. They want to be the ones in charge, able to use the government to reward cronies and steer taxpayer dollars toward their pet projects. These aren't well-intentioned individuals concerned with the economy, health care, clean water, etc. In fact, Republicans direct opposition to every initiative the Democrats have proposed - which attempt to benefit the poor, the middle-class, workers, the elderly, etc. - should make it very clear that the Republicans aren't concerned with the welfare of the majority of citizens.

I had to laugh at Walker's article's statement, "The best place to see the effects of the law is in our nation's laboratories, the states." Having written this, one would then assume Mr. Walker was going to talk about Massachusetts, which developed the nation's only universal health coverage system six years ago. Nope, instead he rambled on about his own recently passed budget and all its mythical savings.

And, of course Walker had to insert the idea of people "becoming dependent on the government and taxpayers." Because whenever the government taxes, regulates, or does anything, in the view of Republicans, it's merely a roundabout path toward an increase in lay-abouts dependent on the government. Yes, health care reform is simply a nefarious idea to increase costs, according to the Republicans. Democrats want a centralized country (Socialists!) where do-nothings get all the breaks and the hard workers pay for it. Or, at least, this is the red-baiting tactic Republicans are claiming and counting on. Most Republicans are unaware the government spending already accounts for nearly half of all health care costs (43.6 percent of all health care spending in the U.S. in 2009).

As Paul Krugman explains, "Well, if having the government regulate and subsidize health insurance is a “takeover,” that takeover happened long ago. Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs already pay for almost half of American health care, while private insurance pays for barely more than a third (the rest is mostly out-of-pocket expenses). And the great bulk of that private insurance is provided via employee plans, which are both subsidized with tax exemptions and tightly regulated."

Regarding the supposed cost increases Republicans are claiming due to health care reform, Jonathan Chait clarifies, "The Affordable Care Act spends a bunch of money to cover people who are too poor or sick to afford their own health care. To pay for that, it raises some taxes and cuts a bunch of spending from Medicare. The new revenue and the spending cuts outweigh the cost of the new spending, which is why the Congressional Budget Office projected it to reduce the deficit. Projections always have a margin for error attached, but the CBO’s two year update actually bumped up the savings projections a bit."

So, as usual, Republicans are living in an alternate (false) reality. The Affordable Care Act is actually predicted to decrease health care costs over time. Trying to control health care costs while covering more people is not a socialist plot, it is an attempt at a more cost-effective, moral and healthy society.

Government is us. And, it can do (and already does) many things very well for a majority of citizens. Don't let the Republicans try to convince you otherwise.

For Further Reading:
CBO Update Shows Lower Costs For Health Care Law
Uncertainty & The Welfare Economics Of Medical Care

No comments: