January 20, 2007

Gold Plated Health Care

From the president's weekly radio address:

... Today, the tax code unfairly penalizes people who do not get health insurance through their job. It unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans. The result is that insurance premiums rise, and many Americans cannot afford the coverage they need. ...

Gold plated health plans. What sort of useless sod describes the health care plans available to the typical U.S. worker as "gold-plated?"

This is our health, you over-entitled, over-stuffed, over-pampered prat. There is nothing in the world more valuable to any person than their own and their loved ones' health, which should hardly even need to be said. But no, it's our fault for wanting to get the best care options possible, not the fault of greedy insurance executives squeezing double digit profits out of premiums to cover their investment losses. Ha.

Mr. President, have you ever had to watch a friend suffer the slow deterioration of her joints because of juvenile diabetes, a suffering made worse because her insurance refused to cover joint replacement (surgeries that were going to be needed as predictably as clockwork) until the joint had deteriorated so badly it couldn't be used? Have you ever had your credit destroyed for seven years as you waited for the last of the very, very late anesthesia bills to be cleared off your credit for a 'covered' surgery that you could still barely afford? Have you seen the enormity of the bill for an uncovered emergency room visit, one that you're not quite poor enough to go bankrupt over? It sure didn't feel like that was 'costing society.' Have you had to listen to a friend worry about clinging to a job they dislike because the health coverage they get takes care of a debilitating chronic condition it would cost many thousands of dollars to treat otherwise? Have you tried to pay for dental care lately? Because most Americans don't have any kind of coverage for that and in addition to being miserably painful when neglected, it ranges from miserably to ruinously expensive depending on whether or not you have coverage.

I'm not sure it's a perfect plan, but this is Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden's idea:

... Under The Healthy Americans Act individuals will choose from a variety of plans offered in their state providing coverage similar to what is currently available to Members of Congress. State-based Health Help Agencies (HHAs) will guide individuals through the enrollment process. HHAs will provide unbiased information about the state’s competing private health plans that will in turn empower individuals—rather than their employers—to choose the best private plans for them and their families. HHAs also will connect individuals and families with sliding scale premium reduction to ensure everyone can afford care. Most individuals and families will qualify for health care tax deductions.

Also under the Healthy Americans Act, subscribers will not be charged co-pays for preventive services or chronic disease management. Insurers will be able to offer discounts and other incentives based on participation in wellness programs such as nutrition counseling, tobacco cessation and exercise. Primary care physicians will be reimbursed for investing time in chronic disease management and prevention. And with Health Help Agencies publishing consumer-oriented information on every plan’s success in prevention and disease management, insurance companies will ultimately be competing to keep Americans healthy.

For those who already have existing health problems, occupation, gender, genetic information and age will no longer be allowed to impact your eligibility or the price you pay for insurance. ...

You want to know how much Bush's tax credit is going to help if you try to get coverage during a pregnancy or with an expensive, pre-existing condition? It won't. You'll still most likely be uninsurable if you try to get individual coverage.

This is a real issue that Americans continue to tell pollsters is important to them and their families. An issue that's completely covered for the president, members of Congress, and almost certainly the big name political reporters who tell us about what they think is important. And so in addition to being ticked the hell off that the president thinks another tax cut is going to completely fix the problem, I'm ticked off that the media already seems to be off their collective meds when talking about presidential candidates from the party most likely to address this issue satisfactorily:

... So, Cox suggests a conspiracy theory involving a Republican member of Congress faking illness so that Hillary Clinton can avoid ... what? Holding a press conference the day Barack Obama announced he might run for president? As conspiracy theories go, that's both more unlikely and lamer than most.

Interestingly, the Swampland bloggers have been quick to dismiss others as nutty conspiracy theorists. Washington bureau chief Jay Carney responded to Josh Marshall's posts at Talking Points Memo about the Bush administration's purging of U.S. attorneys with a dismissive "Of course! It all makes perfect conspiratorial sense!" And Cox herself derided as "the prerogative of conspiracy theorists everywhere" our contention that the rash of sophomoric news reports about the similarities between the names "Obama" and "Osama" contribute to people -- consciously or otherwise -- associating "Obama" and "Osama." Criticizing "conspiracy theorists" while floating your own such theory -- that's the kind of thing a Swampland blogger would probably describe as the prerogative of hypocrites everywhere.

Not to be outdone, New York Times reporter Anne Kornblut suggested -- without bothering with such niceties as evidence -- that Clinton went so far as to fake a cell-phone conversation in order to avoid questions about Obama...

... Ann Coulter can publicly suggest assassinating a sitting president and say she wishes The New York Times building had been blown up -- and end up on the cover of Time.

Rush Limbaugh can call a teenage girl a dog, suggest a sitting president and first lady are responsible for the murder of their close friend, and generally behave like an all-around jerk -- and get hired by Disney-owned ESPN.

But worse than any of that, journalists employed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC and more -- the nation's most respected and most powerful news organizations -- can peddle a nonscandal like Whitewater for the better part of a decade, lie about Al Gore in order to call him a liar, belittle him for wearing Polo shirts and brown pants, call him crazy, call Howard Dean crazy, call John Kerry French, compare Barack Obama to dictators and terrorists because he has an unusual name and sometimes doesn't wear a necktie -- no, really, we aren't making this up: this is the garbage you see on CNN. ...

The silly season has arrived early, if indeed it was ever over.

I don't care what Sen. Clinton thinks about Sen. Obama, or vice versa. I don't care how amusing these people find the name of another American citizen. I don't have health insurance right now, a tax cut isn't going to help me, and I want to know what alternate plans are on the table.

Posted by natasha at January 20, 2007 08:11 PM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | Technorati links |