Monday, March 22, 2010

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Until yesterday, the federal government had no responsibility to make sure that health care was available and affordable for all Americans.  As of today, that has changed, most likely irrevocably.  I'd like to go on record saying that the health care bill passed by the House yesterday has no better chance of being repealed than Medicare has of being repealed, or Social Security, or Civil Rights.  It will be amended forever, but it will never be repealed.  So from today forward, the debate will be all about how to fulfill the government's responsibility to make sure that affordable health care is available for everyone, not about whether the government has that responsibility.  Whatever people think of the details of the actual bill that was passed yesterday, everyone should recognize that that is a monumental change.

Coincidentally, I hosted a meeting yesterday put on by the still-active members of a local Obama campaign organization, and California OneCare, which is supporting efforts that have been made for years to adopt single payer health care in California.  It was interesting that our guests took for granted the final historic debate on the health care bill before the House of Representatives, which was proceeding during our meeting.  To them, the federal plan represents only a first step that has raised awareness of the issue, but is going to solve only a few of the problems they hope to resolve.  They aim to take private insurance companies out of the picture entirely.  Private hospitals and doctors would still provide health care, but companies who have a financial interest is in denying care would no longer be responsible for paying for it.  By their calculations, under a properly-implemented single payer system, we will actually spend less on health care than we spend now, but everyone will be covered for everything.

So while the media will continue to devote lots of attention to the efforts of a vocal minority to roll back health care reform, it should soon become apparent how futile those efforts are.  Meanwhile, groups like California OneCare will be working quietly to build more momentum for even more comprehensive and more workable solutions to the provision of health care in this country.

(J. Colman photo)

5 comments:

  1. I think the GOP has misread the Massachusetts Senatorial election. It was about "change", not health care, and I think it is fair to say that yesterday's vote put 219 representatives in the "change" category. I though Stupak's speech in the closing moments was extraordinary for its earnest simplicity and its plainly felt weariness at the undignified manner in which the opposition had made its case. I am very hopeful for November. The message to take to the voters is: "You elected us for change, and we effected a change that has eluded us for three generations. What does the other guy have to offer?"

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  2. The combined unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security ($107 trillion, seven times the current GDP) and ObamaCare will forever hamstring our economic growth. No matter what happens, the Democrats own it. November will be very revealing.

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  3. On the one hand, the full implication of what VH is saying, we should promote economic growth by eliminating government-managed social and medical insurance for the elderly, which would basically kiss goodbye the economy of the state of Florida and bankrupt millions of families across the United States with responsibility for their elderly loved ones. On the other hand, if he is saying that both Social Security and Medicare are worthy programs that should have been properly funded from the get-go, I am in total agreement and BOTH parties are to blame. Speaking of unfunded liabilities that will haunt our children, do the Republican initiated prescription drug program and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan count, too?

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  4. "On the one hand, the full implication of what VH is saying, we should promote economic growth by eliminating government-managed social and medical insurance for the elderly, which would basically kiss goodbye the economy of the state of Florida and bankrupt millions of families across the United States with responsibility for their elderly loved ones."

    Wow. Really? In that case a country like Sweden (a welfare-state favorite of liberals) should be kissed goodbye since Sweden has personal retirement accounts (oh my!!); they reformed their old age program back in the 1990's when an economic crisis forced them to. Every time the discussion of reforming Social Security is breached in the U.S., we get liberal screeching about how Republicans want old people to die on the street. Funny how Dems forget that they were responsible for quashing S.S. reform when Bush offered to reform it. Who was obstructionist back then?

    "Speaking of unfunded liabilities that will haunt our children, do the Republican initiated prescription drug program and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan count, too?"

    Maybe you should ask the Democrats that voted for the war in Iraq and continued to fund it. Same goes for Afghanistan.

    "On the other hand, if he is saying that both Social Security and Medicare are worthy programs that should have been properly funded from the get-go, I am in total agreement and BOTH parties are to blame."

    You’re one of those pie-in-the-sky types that believes that politicians aren’t driven by their self-interest as they raid “social insurance” programs, huh? If we only had the right sort of idealist in charge, everything would be perfect. Dream on. Both Social Security and Medicare are on their way to collapse exactly because they are NOT worthy programs that were engineered by self interested politicians looking for votes: They take in less than they give out and they will always be used to fund other promises that can never be kept. Wake up, you’re being had.

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  5. "They aim to take private insurance companies out of the picture entirely. Private hospitals and doctors would still provide health care, but companies who have a financial interest is in denying care would no longer be responsible for paying for it. By their calculations, under a properly-implemented single payer system, we will actually spend less on health care than we spend now, but everyone will be covered for everything."

    I am a licensed physician in the state of california for 30 years. The most prolific denier of care (medical claims) is Medicare. It is un believably difficult to deal with them. Private insurance covers more and covers it better than the government. It's not even close. Having said that, I like some of the reforms. I have a daughter with cancer who is uninsurable. Pre-existing conditions should be covered, but be ready to pay far more for it. On the other hand, government health care will result in rationing and end of life care cuts. I have a mother who is being denied care by medicare right now. Careful for what we wish for.

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