There is a big rush to pass a “Health Care Bill” in Congress.
Why the big rush to pass one in the midst of an economic recession I’m not sure. The New York Times points out that it is a thoroughly partisan bill.
And I’ve read that there has been a lot of discussion with hospitals and other big groups involved in the “business” of health care.
But where does the average person stand in all of this? Because, tell you the truth, I’m in the dark about the details.
But the reason for the rush is best outlines in former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich’s blog:
Why is timing so important? Because the health-care clock is ticking, and doesn’t have many weeks left. Universal health care is so complicated — touching on so much of the economy, stepping on the toes of so many vested interests — that to allow the bills to languish past recess risks the entire goal….
So the bills are so complicated we need to pass them quickly? Shouldn’t it be the opposite, that a complicated problem needs to have a full discussion of all aspects before voted on?
But it gets worse.
Reich admits that the real reason for the rush is political:
If bills aren’t passed in the House and Senate before August 7th, the fights in both chambers over the public option and money will carry over into the Fall, where they’ll become more intense and more prolonged. Obama won’t have a bill on his desk before the end of the end of the year. That’s a death sentence for health-care reform. The gravitational pull of the mid-term elections of 2010 will frighten off Blue Dogs and delight Republicans.
Uh, if the Health Care bill is so popular, then why should elections, which are supposed to be about the will of the people, “frighten off” votes?
Because the dirty little secret is that a lot of people fear the health care bill on three levels:
One, that in the long run, it will result in a government take over of the Health Care system. Government is viewed with ambivalence by Americans: They trust the government but have had a lot of expertise with bureaucrats, and are aware of the waste involved.
Two: They worry about losing their freedom to change physicians or chose their care. Health care is personal.
Three: there is a deep suspicion that any “universal” health care system will threaten to bankrupt the government, and result in medical rationing.
Wouldn’t a governmentÂ system merely take up the slack of those who can’t get proper insurance? Or would it undercut the economics of health care in the long run?
Dick Morris (who was Bill Clinton’s pollster, not an economist) points out how this might work:
Under Obamaâ€™s program, there will be a government health insurance company that gets huge subsidies of tax money. It will compete with private insurance plans. But the subsidies will let it undercut the private plans and drive them out of business, leaving only the government plan – a single payer – in effect.
My take is that Reich is correct: That unless a bill is passed quickly, it won’t pass at all.
But the lack of scrutiny, the lack of public debate, and the rush to get some kind of bill pushed through sounds a bit questionable to me.
As the saying goes: The Devil is in the details.
Better a single payer health care system, preferably one run by the private sector where government helps supplement insurance payments for those under a certain income level, than this monstrosity.
Yet even that option makes me shudder, if the “quality of life” ethicists get hold of the decision making.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She writes on medical matters at HeyDoc Xanga Blog.