Saturday, January 08, 2011

Health Care Reform

Republicans in the House are going to have a largely symbolic vote to repeal health care reform - it won't actually make it through the Senate so it is just a waste of time.

I am not really sure what their objection is because they have not really articulated their problem with the reform. You get to keep your health insurance, it will help increase the number of folks who will use private companies, it closes the donut hole, it eliminates the practice of throwing people off of health care when their bills become too great, it helps seniors with additional screening options, it helps young adults who would otherwise not be eligible to stay on their parents' health care plan, etc.

On top of everything it saves over $100 billion over the next 10 years. I don't think it is perfect, and would like to see more done with a public option and severe penalties for doctors who commit Medicare fraud. I'd also like to see greater enforcement of Medicare-related rules to prevent fraud.

As near as I can tell the only major issue that Republicans have is the individual mandate. This isn't any different than state laws that require drivers to have auto insurance. It is also the same plan that was advocated for by former Republican governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. The idea is that with more people in the pool, you can reduce the costs for everyone and expand coverage.

The fact is that the individual mandate was an idea that Republicans pushed as a counter to the Clinton health care plan that was being developed by Hillary Clinton. You had Senators like John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, and Kit Bond all pushing for it 20 years ago as a way to reduce costs and increase private sector insurance - now forgetful Republicans call it socialism. It is complete nonsense - but that is what I expect from ignorant Republicans.

If they don't like the plan, provide an alternative and stop demonizing it. Let the battle of ideas play out - don't make stuff up and pretend that it is something that it is not. For goodness sake, it was an idea borne out of Right Wing think tanks and embraced by leading Republicans just a few years ago.


Unknownprofessor said...


A happy new year to you and yours. Hope all's well in the Mid-Atlantic. Up here, we shovel snow and watch my Huskies work their way down the rankings. (another tough loss to ND, with the irony that Abromaitis' dad was a Husky player back when I was there). The Big is Particularly tough this year.

On to less serious topics: One major difference between the individual mandate and auto insurance is that you must buy auto insurance if and only if you own a vehicle, while the individual mandate in this plan has no such conditions.

The mandate is interesting from a constitutional perspective - one of our faculty (who teaches our Law class) has been quite pleased at having so many relevent issues to bring into class (like the financial crisis was when I was teaching our credit markets class). He chuckles that his students have actually been getting into spirited debates out of class about the Commerce Clause (doesn't sound like something I'd be doing as an undergrad).

Rob said...

Happy new year to you. Hope all is well.

If you go to a hospital you cannot be denied care. Then when you don't/can't pay, everyone with insurance has to pick up the slack. Unless you are for denying care without proof of money, I don't see the individual mandate as much of an issue.

What I find disingenuous is the whole "Obamacare is socialist" nonsense, when the mandate was originally a Republican proposal and the only state that has it only did so because a Republican governor pushed it through.

Rob said...

The Commerce Clause seems like an odd argument. The federal government is already into national health care with Medicare/Medicaid. We already pay into the national medical system with FICA.

The new health care law keeps the choice in the hands of consumers about what type of insurance they want and which provider they want to choose. It is far less "restrictive" than Medicare.

FYI, the last time we had a FICA increase signed into law, it was President Reagan - who worked with Tip O'Neill - to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent. Of course, if President Obama did the same thing right wing tea party nuts would say he is a Socialist trying to bring down the country.