Liberal, Irreverent

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Will the private market approach to health coverage crisis work?

Republicans and conservatives have touted the greatness of market approaches to solve all the nation's problems, health insurance included. In the discussion and the analysis apparently it was lost that the failing health insurance system we were trying fix, the was precisely a system based on free market and private insurance companies. So by that standard alone it should have been proof enough that the market approach was a failure. But let's table that for the moment.

Back to free markets and along those lines, Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, promoted years ago a free market approach to the health coverage crisis that included an individual mandate to carry health insurance, an expansion of Medicaid so the poor could comply with the mandate, a marketplace or exchange fueled by private insurers for those who do not qualify for Medicaid and financial subsidies to purchase plans in the exchange. Sounds familiar? Republican Mitt Romney used that approach in his famous healthcare reform when governor Massachusetts aka, Romneycare. No surprises here as we have a Republican governor establishing a program based on the proposal from a conservative think tank.

Until now this is pretty public knowledge, at least to those who pay enough attention. Enter now Obama and the Democrats. After elected president, Obama using his characteristic effort to be pragmatic and reaching across, decided to implement a national health insurance reform plan based on the Heritage Foundation idea and Romneycare. And all hell breaks lose. The new plan dubbed Obamacare is now socialism, a government takeover, an infringement on individual's rights, a liberal conspiracy, etc, etc. I think we all remember the spectacle.

Now Obamacare is law, ratified by the Supreme Court and being implemented across the nation. Yes, republicans continue their obstruction and sabotage, Koch brothers have spent millions in pizza and beer parties to convince young people not to enroll in the plan (however Koch bros. have not said if they will pay for the medical bills of those young people if it happens they get ill or in an accident), many republican states refuse to cooperate, conservative keep groups filing lawsuits, and the right wing loonies in the streets are predicting the end of the world, etc, etc.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

When the floor falls

The safety net (food stamps, social security and the social health care network comprised of Medicaid, Medicare and now Obamacare) makes a difference in the daily lives millions of people. It is the difference between living in misery or living with some dignity. The difference between eating that night or going to bed hungry. The difference between getting treatment when sick or injured or dying. No one in their sane mind could argue against the need of having food, medical attention and some income for daily living, unless of course, if you are a republican.

The safety net means peace of mind and freedom. You know that if your luck turns south and you end up in the ranks of poverty, you will have help for food and medical treatment, until you can get back on your feet. You pay to Medicare and Social Security during all your working years and you know that you will have a pension and healthcare when you retire. No one can argue against this, unless of course, if you are a republican.

Imagine America back in the old days, when the current safety net was not available. Back when your own personal savings were your only hope of income and healthcare during retirement. You surely would be more afraid of leaving that dead end job, and even more afraid of being laid off. You may think twice before taking that business venture. Saving for a pension and healthcare would become two new bills to pay every month, consuming a good chunk of your budget. Those who could not manage to save, or did not save enough, or did not invest wisely would end up in misery shortly after retirement. Abuses toward workers would grow, especially toward older workers. Workers bargaining position (regardless of union status) would weaken, driving salaries and benefits down.

Without the safety net the labor makeup of America would be very similar to a third world country.  The gap between the rich and poor would grow even wider and the middle class would disappear completely. Working America would resemble one big pool of modern day slave labor. Destroying the safety net benefits the top 1% and that is why republicans are pushing for it. After all, republicans are just the political agents of the wealthy and their corporations.

While Washington discusses how to balance budgets at the expense of the poor and middle class, very little has been said about corporate welfare, tax loopholes and the bloated defense budget. Funny (and contradictory) is that republicans believe that jobs and economic prosperity come from the top down, but balanced budgets come from the bottom up.