June 02, 2007

Universal Coverage - Republican Style

In California, one of the political hot topics is on how to fix the broken health care system where too many people are falling through the cracks. Both the Governor and the Legislature want to find a way to provide universal coverage for all Californians. But the Governor is adamantly for a "market-based solution" and vetoed the one bill that came to his desk last year which would have provided health care for all Californians under a single payer solution. Schwarenegger has declared that California absolutely will not consider letting the government be in the health insurance business.

Schwarzenegger: We don't believe that government ultimately should run health care.

Schwarzenegger: A government run health care system for 1$72,000 prisoners doesn't work, a federal judge had to step in because it was a disaster. Why would we have the government run our health care system for 37 million people, when they cannot even do it for 170,000 inmates?

First of all, this just shows you how bad the Governor is at governing as he is in charge of the mess in the prisons. It is something he can change, but chooses not to because he is ideologically predisposed to disdain government solutions and believes like a lot of conservatives that the free market does everything better than "government."

Evidently there is something inherently evil about government (which, after all, in a democracy is us) that makes it impossible for conservatives to think it can actually work for people. I guess that when James Lee Witt was running FEMA and it was praised for how well it worked, and when the VA was providing the best health care in the United States, it was a fluke, not because the person heading the government actually believed putting capable leaders in charge could actually make things work. No. For Republicans, it's always about making a buck.

So what's their favorite solution? It's that newest kool idea from the personal responsibility for thee but not me team: individual mandates. They believe that just like people have to buy car insurance if they want to drive, if someone wants health care, they must purchase (or if they are lucky have their employer purchase) insurance. And those who are very poor will get subsidies from the government.

According to Schwarenegger, it's the next miracle fix for a badly broken system.

So how will that work? Well, one thing you will need is some way to force the slackers to purchase insurance. And you've got to provide an agency that will provide insurance to those who are too poor or too sick to get insurance on the open market. And who decides when an insurance premium is too exploitive? Who will make sure that the insurance companies don't cherry pick so that they only have healthy people and the government pool covers all the sick people?

It seems to me that these are some pretty important issues that will mandate heavy regulations on the insurance companies and individuals in order to work and in order to not bankrupt the government. But as Atrios said the other day, Why Mandate? If everyone is simply covered, there is no need for a mandate or inventing new ways to make sure everyone buys their coverage.

Furthermore, just as Massachusetts is gearing up to put in individual mandates for their free-market solution to providing health insurance, the signs are this pig with lipstick is starting to stink.

STEWART: When do we hear anything about health care from the Republican side? I mean, it‘s amazing, on Mitt Romney‘s Web site, there‘s barely a mention, there‘s two little paragraphs, when you type on his health care tab. Yet he signed this landmark health care coverage law in Massachusetts.

FINEMAN: Well, in Mitt Romney‘s case, the problem is in Massachusetts, that the premiums that are required under that system are skyrocketing. It‘s going to be very burdensome, and it‘s scared a lot of people in Massachusetts. That‘s why he doesn‘t want to brag about it.

I think what the Republicans are going to do generally is go to their default position, which is vouchers, some kind of voucher program for health care is probably where they‘re going to end up. And it‘s not their favorite issue, and it‘s about government, it‘s about big government, and they‘d rather, I think, avoid it than deal directly with it.

So the Republican solution will create even a bigger regulatory system than a single-payer system. Who says Republicans don't like big government.

Posted by Mary at June 2, 2007 12:33 PM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Yea, "voucher system" is republican code for "scam"
or so it seems. I would say the actual republican default is to re-frame the issue and then point out how the democrats have dropped the ball , and then continue to ignore it for as many years as possible. Unless of course, there is a profit for one of their ilk to squeeze out...then we are back to square one, a voucher system.

Posted by: benmerc at June 2, 2007 02:24 PM