Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Well, Duh ...

Michael Hiltzig had an interesting column in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, one that I overlooked my first time through the paper. In it he asserts that unless President Obama takes over the framing of the debate in his speech to Congress tomorrow, we will not have any meaningful health care reform. Nothing too startling about that assertion, eh?

The big mystery of the Democrats' loss of the commanding heights in the national healthcare debate is how they managed to let ideologies trump ideas.

The difference between these two terms is crucial. Ideas arise from recognizing reality for what it is; ideologies attempt to impose themselves on the real world, whether or not they fit.

In this case, the Republican ideologies of limited government, of the free market as the cherished American way and the answer to most problems, have taken over the discussion.
[Emphasis added]

Well, duh.

If, however, you read further into the column, you will note that he does what the White House should have been forcefully doing all along: presenting the facts. Here are just some of the facts recited by Mr. Hiltzig:

More than 45 million people are without health insurance. Nine million of them are children, and 31 million belong to families with one or two full-time workers. Minorities and the poor are overrepresented in the group. Blacks and Hispanics account for nearly half the uninsured, and members of families living at or below the federal poverty line for more than a third. (These figures come from a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Compared with covered individuals and families, the uninsured tend to get less preventive care, defer important treatments more often, skip medication more often and fall deeper in debt from medical expenses.

Millions more Americans have health coverage that hangs by a thread, dependent on their continued employment and their employers' choice of what coverage to pay for or how much to subsidize it. Nor are those with insurance immune from the financial strain of medical costs: The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research reported last month that of the 2.2 million Californians who reported medical debts in 2007, two-thirds incurred that debt despite having insurance.

Commercial insurers deploy armies of clerks to find excuses for rejecting claims and weed out less-profitable customers. In a bold assertion of their power to dictate their own terms of business, a panel of health insurance chief executives appearing before Congress a few months ago flatly refused to disavow the practice of rescission, which means retroactively canceling policies of customers who had filed claims.

If President Obama cannot summon the energy and the integrity to deliver that speech and instead prefers to deliver another watered-down, conciliatory, can't-we-all-just-get-along speech, then there will be no reform, just added burdens to the already over-burdened citizens of this country foolish enough to have believed in the promise of change.

And that will be an horrendous default and an admission that only corporate interests count in this country.

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Anonymous larry, dfh said...

I don't think it's about ideology at all. If the dems. don't do what the insurance companies want them to do, then the insurance companies will take their $$ and give it to the pubs. I don't think "who can be the biggest whore" is an ideology worth basing a political party on.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous DeanOR said...

Dr. Bill Thomas at ChangingAging.org has written Obama's speech for him:
"Mumbo jumbo nice nice distinguished guests et cetera.

Here is my plan. First, The American people will be eligible to join the Federal Employees Health Exchange. That’s right, the people who elected us to office will also qualify for the same health insurance we have. Second, enrollment in Medicare, regardless of age, will be one of the options available to choose from in the health care exchange. My plan can be boiled done to 10 pages, it can be understood by anyone, it is fair, it provides competitive pressure as well as universal coverage.

To the people who will oppose my plan, I urge you to stand before your constituents and explain to them why they can not have the kind of insurance coverage that you have.

To the health insurance companies, I say, let’s see some of that legendary competitive American business mojo in action. Surely, you will be able to out-compete and out-perform the lowly government-run Medicare program.

Let the wild rumpus begin!"

11:47 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dean, as is usually the case with Dr. Bill, that nails it beautifully.

The question is, will President Obama deliver that speech?

4:32 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

The question is, will President Obama deliver that speech?

Short answer: No

A little longer: No Fuuking Way! Are you daft?

7:42 AM  

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