There is a lot of misinformation and garbage talking points on health care reform being spread around by conservatives. But, despite all the sound and the noise, there doesn’t seem to be a single worthwhile argument against health care reform buried anywhere in there.
Republicans claim–falsely–that a public option would result in the “rationing” of health care. But what is rationing?
1. a fixed allowance.
2. an allotted amount.
By that definition, isn’t health care already rationed? Health care isn’t unlimited–first, whether or not you even have health insurance depends on where you work and how much money you have. And both of those influence the quality of coverage you can get.
Second, even if you have the means to get health insurance, the insurance companies can still deny you coverage for a variety of reasons–a pre-existing condition, for instance.
Third, even if you have health insurance, insurance companies can deny your claim for a particular medical treatment for a variety of reasons. So, even if you are covered you might not be able to get the treatment you need.
Health insurance companies make a profit by denying as much coverage as possible to as many people as possible; their entire business model is centered around rationing.
Conservatives also argue–falsely–that a public option would put “government bureaucrats” between citizens and their doctors in terms of making health care decisions.
Yet, bureaucrats are already between people and their doctors–instead of being government bureaucrats whose jobs are to serve the American people, it’s private health industry bureaucrats whose jobs are to try to deny you as much health care as they can. That is how they make money, after all.
Conservatives are also asking where the money for health care reform is going to come from, claiming a plan including a public option would cost somewhere between $1.5 and $2 trillion.
Of course, that crowd includes a fair number of newly-minted deficit hawks who didn’t seem to care very much when George Bush and the Republican Congress were spending huge amounts of money on utterly frivolous things.
Where were these guys when Bush was pushing his $1.6 trillion tax cut package through Congress? Why weren’t any of these conservatives complaining about the cost of the Iraq War, which will cost us nearly $3 trillion?
Of course health care reform will be expensive–it’s going to help insure tens of millions of Americans who are currently going without health care. The question isn’t simply how much it will cost, but whether or not the benefit is worth it. For instance, to an average middle-class family buying a house is incredibly expensive, but the benefit they receive from that purchase justifies the cost.
Plus, we already pay a significant portion of what health care reform would cost in other ways–our salaries are lower because our employers have to pay greater health care costs. We pay more in taxes to help support overburdened hospitals that have to treat a large number of uninsured Americans. We pay higher health insurance costs and premiums to a veritable monopoly with no competition and massively-high prices, which would be challenged and kept honest by a public health insurance option.
I wonder just how much of that $1.5-$2 trillion would come from costs that the American people already pay in some form or another?
On one hand, conservatives–falsely–claim that a public health care plan would be massively inefficient, resulting in long waits for treatment, reduced choice in doctors, limited treatment options, etc.
But on the other hand, they claim that the public option will drive the private insurance industry out of business. That’s right–they claim that public option will be terrible, but so many people will opt into it that the entire private health insurance industry will go bankrupt.
They also claim that private insurance will go out of business because it’s impossible for a private entity to compete with a government program. Except:
I immediately thought of the U.S. Postal Service. Here’s a government-run service that can deliver a paper document to any remote location you choose for 42 cents. They can also deliver packages quickly and at a very competitive rate. Impressive.
But even with this efficiency the “public option” for package delivery has a number of healthy competitors. There’s FedEx (started in 1971 as Federal Express), DHL (founded in 1969), UPS (founded in 1907) among others.
Somehow, despite the government-run program, these private delivery services have managed to survive by offering customers something they found worthy of their business.
Conservatives don’t want to admit it, but America is facing a health care crisis. Costs are rising because there’s nobody to compete with the insurance industry. Tens of millions of Americans go without health insurance for themselves and their families, relying on overburdened, understaffed hospitals to be their first–and last–resort in the event of injury or illness. The time for change has come, yet conservatives are content to simply drag their feet and say “No.”
UPDATE: And keep in mind that there is already a public option for health care–it’s just restricted to members of Congress. That’s right–every member of Congress currently receives taxpayer-funded, government-provided health insurance.
So any Senator or Representative who opposes a public health insurance option is a complete and utter hypocrite, unless they put their money where their mouth is and reject their free government health care in favor of buying private insurance out-of-pocket.
But I guess those are conservatives for you–they have no problem accepting free government handouts hand-over-fist when it benefits them and their families, but will fight tooth and nail to prevent those same benefits from being extended to regular, everyday Americans.