Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm a "Blue Dog"

If you follow this humble blog, you know that I'm a big fan of health care reform. Our entire health care system is too costly, not as effective as it should be, and it leaves out too many people. Obama is right - the worse case is to continue with the system we have now. But, that said, we need to reform it in the right way.

Few proponents of health care reform want to talk about the approximately $35 trillion hole in Medicare. That's the difference between likely spending for those now living and projected receipts for the program during their lives. There's no way we can absorb this huge deficit within the federal budget, so something's got to give. Either we increase taxes and/or co-payments and/or premiums, or we reduce benefits. One thing we can't do is increase the Medicare deficit, but the current house bill does just that. It's a non-starter with me.

The "blue dog democrats" are holding Obama to his pledge that health care reform not add to the deficit. Good for them! Their opponents, the progressive democrats, want universal coverage and they don't care what they have to spend (or borrow) to get it. I heard one of them say today, "We are the richest country in the world - why can't we cover everyone?" Well, we could cover everyone, but we need to pay for it.

If we can't get a revenue-neutral or revenue-positive plan, I'd not be in favor of it. If I was Obama, I'd veto a deficit-creating plan and wait it out. Soon, so many Americans will be without health care or paying so much under the current system that a universal single-payer system will likely get the necessary votes from a new congress. But the blue dogs should still get their way.

As far as dealing with those who don't want the government to be in charge of their health care, I think they should be allowed to buy a health care policy on top of the best (most expensive) single payer plan. If they want premium care, they can pay extra for it. But, everyone else would be covered, too.

An addendum: If you think everyone with good insurance is treated the same by hospitals, you are mistaken. The rich, in addition to having blue chip insurance, often guarantee VIP treatment at hospitals by making donations to their capital campaigns. As an EMT, I've often seen these folks quietly moved to the head of the line. They expect it, and they get it. After all, they paid for it. This will never change, regardless of whatever we do with the national health care plan.

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