Politics Over People: The Republicans Playing Deadly Game on Health Care Reform

This is your modern day Republican party:

Conservative leaders will push delay any vote on health care reform until after the August recess to capitalize on what they say is a growing tide of opposition to reform measures, they said on a conference call with “tea party” participants today.

“I can almost guarantee you this thing won’t pass before August, and if we can hold it back until we go home for a month’s break in August,” members of Congress will hear from “outraged” constituents, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint said on the call, which was organized by the group Conservatives for Patients Rights.

“Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people,” DeMint predicted, adding that “this health care issue Is D-Day for freedom in America.”

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” he said.

Republicans delay health care reform meanwhile sick people die, children go without necessary treatment, and small businesses continue to crumble under the weight of rapidly growing health care costs. I wish this was hyperbole but sadly its a grim reality.

But I wish I could say that I’m surprised by the GOP’s usage of obscure political tricks to block health care reform. Despite popular support from the majority of Americans and their concession during last year’s election that health care reform was important, Conservatives are sticking to their bread and butter…not small government and free markets, no they don’t actually support those. I’m talking about shady tactics used to delay, hold, and filibuster any legislation looking to  address the need of the average American. (Instead of the special interests who pour millions dollars into Republican campaign coffers.)

Of course, a lot of people would will probably respond with some prepacked conservative talking point about how “socialized medicine” is horrible or the high costs of the democratic plan.  But that misses the point. Aside from the obvious facts those rhetorical musings  get wrong, democrats aren’t proposing a socialized health care reform and their plan is deficit neutral, the real focus of Republican’s demagoguery should be on the conservative alternative.

…oh wait… there isn’t one.

And therein lies the real problem with the Republican party’s strategy. It isn’t their policies or, and I emphasize, alleged support of  “conservative” principles. The problem is the fact that the Republican strategy on health care reform, like many other important issues, is to to avoid the issue altogether. In other words: 1) admit that the issue needs to be solved while emphasizing that it needs to be done “right” 2)  attack the proposals being offered by democrats 3) Demagogue, delay, and filibuster proposed bill in order to kill it 4) High five each other and pound their chests once the bill is killed and the issue has been tabled for future considerations, ie never.

That might be a good way of accomplishing short term political gains but its an even better way of sitting around and watching as American society crumbles.

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9 thoughts on “Politics Over People: The Republicans Playing Deadly Game on Health Care Reform

  1. 1. The majority of Americans might support some level of health care reform, but the majority do not support the current Democrat sponsored 1018 page bill. Over 80% of Americans polled say they are happy with their current health care.
    2. Page 16 of the bill renders private insurance illegal after the date of passage. You can keep your private coverage, temporarily, but the language in the current proposal all but guarantees you will be on the public “option.” within a few years. That is socialized medicine. Ask 10 Canadians and/or Brits how that’s working out for them (ask the Canadians how they like their HUGE taxes, while your at it. They have plenty of time to think about that while they wait for their turn to see a doctor.).
    3. There is a Republican sponsored healthcare reform bill that has been proposed, but the media, and democrat controlled congress choose to turn a blind eye to it.
    4.Both Republican and Democrat representatives have publicly called for more time to thoroughly read and consider this bill which would affect the 120 million insured Americans by all but forcing them to the public option, the 45 million uninsured people in this country (not, by the way, all Americans) and an entire industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans. Responsible Reps on both sides of the aisle want and need more time to fashion a fair and responsible bill.
    5. What’s the rush? I’ve never trusted a salesman who tried to rush me into a decision, have you?
    6. If we are responsible for providing Healthcare for every American, why are we not also responsible for providing food and shelter (two far more basic human needs?) When and where does personal responsibility start?
    7. The current National Debt is over $11 TRILLION. The current bill will add to that. How are we going to pay? The “rich” can only cover so much.
    8. The congress will not apply the bill to themselves. Hmmmm. What ever happened to leading by example?

    • 7. The current National Debt is over $11 TRILLION. The current bill will add to that. How are we going to pay? The “rich” can only cover so much.

      This is factually incorrect. The proposed House plan is deficit neutral. In other words IT DOESN’T ADD TO THE DEFICIT. This is why democrats have offered various proposals to fund the House bill from a capping itemized deductions, eliminating the tax break on employer insurance, or a minor surtax on the top income bracket.

      By the way…the strain on our budget is defense spending and expanding medicare costs caused by retiring baby boomers. In 2003 Republicans passed a medicare plan that directly prevented Medicare from using its market share to negotiate lower drug prices, one of the major expenses. Under the democratic plan this provision is repealed after a few years. With the cost controls Senate democrats are planning to add to the house bill, the best way to lower the deficit is through health care reform

      …and of course all of this ignores the economic benefit from health care from more productive workers, less strain on state revenues, and allowing businesses to be more competitive with foreign counter parts. But I could go on all day…

      8. The congress will not apply the bill to themselves. Hmmmm. What ever happened to leading by example?

      Actually the proposed Democrat plan guarantees that insurance companies provide a health care plan that is at least as good as the one provided to members of congress. In other words they’ll have insurance as good as or better than Congress. By the way are Republicans enrolled under their four page “plan”? Nope.

      3. There is a Republican sponsored healthcare reform bill that has been proposed, but the media, and democrat controlled congress choose to turn a blind eye to it.

      Oh the four page “plan” Republicans released last month? The one that increases the deficit, doesn’t provide universal coverage, doesn’t prevent discrimination to insurers, doesn’t provide oversight on the practice of denying care, doesn’t…oh I could go on forever listing the things not covered. So yes, no one is taking the four page “plan” seriously. Aside from being…well stupid…it doesn’t have any details for how the bill will be implemented or how much it will costs. I’ve had book reports with more depth then this.

      2. Page 16 of the bill renders private insurance illegal after the date of passage.You can keep your private coverage, temporarily, but the language in the current proposal all but guarantees you will be on the public “option.” within a few years.

      Page 16? Oh you mean the section called PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE? Yeah… Aside from NOT making the public option mandatory, the bill severely limits the number of people allowed to enroll in the public option. The lack of access to most Americans has actually been a criticism from Democrats.

      4.Both Republican and Democrat representatives have publicly called for more time to thoroughly read

      As the article I originally linked to above clearly states, the opponents of health care reform are trying to delay the bill in order to stop it from passing. Besides that, there is no rush. Members of congress have weeks and a dozens of staffers to read through the bill. This isn’t anything new or unusual.

      That is socialized medicine. Ask 10 Canadians and/or Brits how that’s working out for them (ask the Canadians how they like their HUGE taxes, while your at it. They have plenty of time to think about that while they wait for their turn to see a doctor.).

      Lots of problems here:

      1. The House bill isn’t socialized medicine. In fact neither is Canada. Social medicine is where the doctors, nurses, and hospitals are government employees and buildings.
      2. The closest American version of the socialized medicine is the VA which routinely outperforms the private sector in approval rating.
      3. And in case you’re wondering the Canadian system is single payer similar to Medicare…which also has higher approval ratings than the private sector.
      3. Most research shows that Canadians and Europeans are happier with their health care system as compared to Americans.
      4. Ask the 50 million uninsured how much they like not having health care. Ask an underinsured person who can’t afford to get medical treatment for their kids how they feel about their health care.

      Bottom line: the denial of health care access is the ultimate waiting line

      1. The majority of Americans might support some level of health care reform, but the majority do not support the current Democrat sponsored 1018 page bill. Over 80% of Americans polled say they are happy with their current health care.

      The House bill just came out this week. Conclusive polling hasn’t been done. But anyways polling about specific legislation is always murky regardless of democrat or republican. *cough*privatization of social security*cough*

      6. If we are responsible for providing Healthcare for every American, why are we not also responsible for providing food and shelter (two far more basic human needs?) When and where does personal responsibility start?

      Like many Americans, I think we should provideaccess to food in shelter. By the way if food is the #1 basic need then health is probably 1a. But I digress…

      The problem with this statement is its based on the assumption that people don’t have health care because they’re lazy or unwilling to get it themselves. This is quite simply and more or less objectively false. The rapidly increasing costs of health care, unemployment, and the reduction of benefits is the primary cause of the uninsured and underinsured. So your appeal to personal responsibility is…well crap. Personal responsibility on the individual level doesn’t mean abdication of responsibility on the national level.

      But forget about those “pesky facts” .

  2. 7. Perhaps you could take that up with the Congressional Budget Office Director who posted “By the end of the 10-year period, in 2019, the coverage provisions would add $202 billion to the federal deficit, CBO and JCT estimate. That increase would be partially offset by net cost savings of $50 billion and additional revenues of $86 billion, resulting in a net increase in the deficit of an estimated $65 billion” Read the whole post at http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=332.
    An increase of $65 billion doesn’t look “deficit neutral” to me.

    If part of the strain on our budget is expanded medicare spending, how will more of the same reduce the strain? This bill creates a new “medicare” without fixing the problems of the old program.

    8. Could you please supply a reference to the specific section of the bill that states that everyone in the U.S. will get coverage “as good as or better than Congress?” From what I understand, they have fabulous coverage.

    3. I was not defending the Republican plan, simply stating that there was one. The original post stated “the real focus of Republican’s demagoguery should be on the conservative alternative.
    …oh wait… there isn’t one.”

    “Most research shows that Canadians and Europeans are happier with their health care system as compared to Americans.” There are many contradictory studies out there. We could spend years trading them back and forth. My need for studies on this went out the window when I met a Canadian woman who hates the Canadian “free” single payer, government controlled, call it socialist or call it any name you want system, because they sent her father home to die saying he had aged out of the parameters for treatment, when in the U.S. he would have been considered treatable. The pain and anger in her eyes was all the “study” I needed to know that any system even resembling the Canadian one is not one I care to be a part of.

    “Like many Americans, I think we should provide access to food in shelter.”
    America does. If you are able bodied, you have access through your own efforts…i.e. work, then buy what you can afford. If you want more/better, you have the opportunity to work and think harder. If you are not able bodied, or are temporarily unable to work for any reason, there are a myriad of both government and charitable programs that either temporarily or permanently provide food and shelter (and medical care.) I have no objection, in principal, to any of these programs. I think that, despite abuse by the criminally entitled, these programs are the moral and ethical response to our fellow man.

    Lets go back to the beginning…
    Widespread Health Insurance as an employer benefit only started to gain popularity in 1939, as an employer response to government regulations that capped pay. In other words, offering health insurance was an end run around government, in order to attract and retain workers.

    Insurance has, by and large, been a major contributor to the increase in health care costs. The third party payer system blinded consumers to costs, negated the need or desire to “shop” for lower costs, and encouraged providers to raise their prices ($500 aspirin?)

    Government regulations and Medicare/Medicaid rules have further convoluted things, and increased costs. In every hospital there are people being paid just to pore over medical records and comply with government rules. That cost gets counted as part of the expense of healthcare. Meanwhile, there are many patients whose care is being dictated by a Bureaucrat, not by their own physician.

    A third, worldwide and unrelated to delivery system, cause of increased medical expenses is improved technology. In 1939, the height of medical technology was x-ray. Medical technology is available, improving and saving lives every day. A cost that is actually worth paying.

    Common Ground:
    We Americans WANT access to affordable health care.
    Do we have a RIGHT to that? Lets agree that it is our moral and ethical responsibility to assure that, weather or not we agree that it is a right.
    We agree that the status quo is far from perfect.

    What is the governments role in EFFECTIVELY changing the staus quo, in assuring access and lowering or at least stabilizing costs? If the government was part of the problem in the first place, is more government the answer?
    Does the current proposed bill positively, fairly, effectively and sustainably alter the status quo? If the elected Republicans (or Democrats, or Socialists or Libertarians) feel it does not, isn’t it their responsibility to either affect change in the bill before it is passed or block its passage? If specific reps, regardless of their party affiliation, are selling their votes to special interest lobbies, shouldn’t they each be exposed? Couldn’t the argument be made that there are reps who support this bill because they are being paid by special interest lobbies to do so? Isn’t it part of the process for a bill to be proposed by some, and then defended by them when others object? Is objecting to the bill and doing whatever can be done to block it not intrinsic in the process? Do not the Democrats use this same process when they object to a bill?
    Why should the process be any different for this bill, this issue?
    If you object to the process, what alternative would you suggest?

    I think that our disagreement is more fundamental than this particular bill. I think our disagreement goes to the role and scope of the government’s place in our intimate, daily lives.

    • Since you didn’t respond to my points 2,4, 6 and the argument about why the democrats bill isn;t socialized medicine I’ll assume you concede those points

    • 8. Could you please supply a reference to the specific section of the bill that states that everyone in the U.S. will get coverage “as good as or better than Congress?” From what I understand, they have fabulous coverage.

      Yeah I’ll find it.

      • My mistake. I was confusing the house bill with one of the proposals being floated by Senator Wyden for the Senate version. But I would support enlisting members of congress under a universal bill they create. Many democrats support this as well. Though its a non starter.

    • Perhaps you could take that up with the Congressional Budget Office Director who posted “By the end of the 10-year period, in 2019, the coverage provisions would add $202 billion to the federal deficit, CBO and JCT estimate. That increase would be partially offset by net cost savings of $50 billion and additional revenues of $86 billion, resulting in a net increase in the deficit of an estimated $65 billion” Read the whole post at http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=332. An increase of $65 billion doesn’t look “deficit neutral” to me.

      As former CBO director Peter Orszag pointed out yesterday, the CBO’s estimates don’t take into account the upcoming changes to Medicare reimbursements that Congress, both democrats and republicans, are working to fix independent of health care reform. Because of a change made to Medicare during the Reagan administration payment level is broken. Thankfully this is a bipartisian issue that even Republicans are in talks to fix.

      If part of the strain on our budget is expanded medicare spending, how will more of the same reduce the strain? This bill creates a new “medicare” without fixing the problems of the old program.

      See above. Two minor additions I think should be added to this bill are drug importation and bargaining power rights. In 2003 the Republican controlled Congress passed their $400 billion Medicare bill which was essentially a giant hand out to pharmacuetical companies. But worse than that the bill explicitly banned Medicare from using its market power to bargain down the price of prescription drug prices, one of the most expensive cost to Medicare. Its a bit murky whether this will be included in the final bill but Republicans and big PharMa are pushing to have this excluded.

      This is arguably the most important lever necessary to reduce rising health care costs and rising spending. When you break down our spending the majority of it is spent on Medicare due to the retiring baby boomers. (Medicare spending is rising at the same or lower levels than the private sector so this problem isn’t intrinsic to Medicare) Regardless of how you feel about health care reform, we literally must allow Medicare to bargain its drug prices if you want to cut spending. Period. (Besides bargaining power is one of the primary components of the free market? It’s how Wal Mart offers low prices. How can a free market supporter honestly oppose implementing a free market cost saving policy in Medicare?)

      3. I was not defending the Republican plan, simply stating that there was one. The original post stated “the real focus of Republican’s demagoguery should be on the conservative alternative.
      …oh wait… there isn’t one.”

      Sorry but I call BS. There’s three positions Republicans can have on health care reform. They can either oppose reform, support the democrats plan, or provide a better alternative. But if you read the article I linked to, which honestly it seems like you didn’t read, Republicans aren’t pushing for an alternative bill, they’re looking to kill the Democrat’s bill in order to land a huge political blow to Obama. That’s was their explictly stated goal in 1994. This what their explictly stated goal is now. Bill Kristol has literally told Republicans not to “appear constructive”.

      Whatever your feelings might be towards the Democrat’s plan, that is by definition, putting politics before people.

      Government regulations and Medicare/Medicaid rules have further convoluted things, and increased costs. In every hospital there are people being paid just to pore over medical records and comply with government rules. That cost gets counted as part of the expense of healthcare. Meanwhile, there are many patients whose care is being dictated by a Bureaucrat, not by their own physician.

      Actually you have this backwards on two levels:

      A) The increasing adminstrative costs hospitals face occur because 1. There’s thousands of insurers each of them with hundreds of complex plans. In order to keep up hospitals have to create whole departments to figure out our complex private insurer system. 2 Insurers are notorious for disputing claims with hospitals over whether their policy covers a procedure that was performed. It’s gotten so bad that hospitals and insurers regularly go to court in order to dispute payments.

      B) The vast majority of Americans are covered by private insurance. So yes a bureaucrat is making their decisions instead of their doctor. Except its an INSURANCE company bureaucrat. Because here’s a dirty secret opponents to health care reform don’t admit. We already ration health care in this country. Except in the current system it’s rationed by insurance corporations who make profits by turning down insurance claims. Don’t believe me? Tell me why insurance executive’s bonuses are tired to the amount of claims they turn down per year? Call me crazy, but i’d rather have an independent panel of doctors and medical experts determine treatment instead of an accountant on Wall Street.

      I think that our disagreement is more fundamental than this particular bill. I think our disagreement goes to the role and scope of the government’s place in our intimate, daily lives.

      The common problem that occurs when arguing with libertarians/small government conservatives is their ideology gets in the way of facts. I don’t mean this to mean that democrats have a monopoly on truth. But your arguments, even looking at this debate, are mostly “the government sucks”. So yes while i disagree with your political philosophy, I disagree with the empty rhetoric the libertarian right uses in place of facts and analysis. If it were merely a legitimate disagreement about policy compromise would be a lot easier. But it takes two sides to compromise. Democrats are willing to use the free market when its effective, bargaining power for Medicare for example. Where’s the concession from your side that there are certain things that the government can do well in health care. Oh wait…there isn’t anything the government can do well right?

      A third, worldwide and unrelated to delivery system, cause of increased medical expenses is improved technology. In 1939, the height of medical technology was x-ray. Medical technology is available, improving and saving lives every day. A cost that is actually worth paying.

      My college thesis was actually on this subject. This is partially true, but what you’re missing is that an indirect payment system, private insurance, artificially inflates market price. In other words, when you’re not paying for asprin, either out of pocket our through taxes, you’re willing to pay $500 for asprin instead of $5.

      America does. If you are able bodied, you have access through your own efforts…i.e. work, then buy what you can afford. If you want more/better, you have the opportunity to work and think harder. If you are not able bodied, or are temporarily unable to work for any reason, there are a myriad of both government and charitable programs that either temporarily or permanently provide food and shelter (and medical care.)

      This is non responsive to my overall point about social responsibility. But regardless it relies on the ridiculous idea that people who are unemployed or unable to provide for themselves are lazy and attached to the government teat. It’s more or less embodied in the caricuture of the guy driving by a homeless guy in a rainstorm and saying “hey buddy, get a job.” Are the millions of unemployed people just lazy? What about the working poor? Because i’m willing to bet that the single mother with 2 part time jobs living paycheck to paycheck works a lot harder than the CEO of Citigroup. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on the success of Wall Street bankers but it really is just a juvinelle idea that people with more money got it because they worked harder. And I do mean that with the utmost respect.

      There are many contradictory studies out there. We could spend years trading them back and forth.

      Would you mind citing one that says the majority of Canadians and Europeans are unhappy with their system. By the way, again socialized medicine, single payer health care, and the proposed democratic bill = entirely different policies

  3. As a European now living in the USA, I have to say that I have noticed that the healthcare system over here is poor when compared to those in Europe (My American wife also agrees with this by the way). Look where the USA is ranked in the world, at number 37 (Who website, you know the World Health Organization), yet we have to pay far more than all of the countries ranked ahead of us.

    How would paying probably less in taxes than what you currently pay per year for your families health insurance end up costing you more? I am confused by this and think this is the conservative propaganda machine at work.

    There are apparently some 50-million uninsured Americans and a further 25-million under-insured, this is crazy in my eyes and I often baulk at people saying that it is their own fault! The current system is based entirely upon making money but unfortunately those who work for it, the nurses, doctors and ma’s, are usually the ones that dont profit from it.

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