Monday, December 14, 2009

Conversations About Health Care

Jacob Weisberg recently compared the Republican response to the current pending bill to the 2003 Medicare Part D bill in Slate magazine. It's very illuminating, and here's the most telling line:

"Medicare recipients are much more likely to vote Republican than the uninsured who would benefit most from the Democratic bills," which is why the Republicans overwhelmingly passed Medicare Part D at an estimated 10-year cost as high as $1.2 trillion, but won't support the current bill.

"That figure," Weisberg continued,
—just for prescription-drug coverage that people over 65 still have to pay a lot of money for—dwarfs the $848 billion cost of the Senate bill. The Medicare D price tag continues to escalate because the bill explicitly bars the government from using its market power to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers or establishing a formulary with approved medications.
I had a conversation recently with a guy who opposes the health care reform bill because, he said, it would cause his health insurance premiums to increase by $700 per year. First of all, I doubt that he--or anyone--knows enough about the impact of the bill to be able to calculate a specific individual cost.

But aren't there more important considerations at stake here than the anecdotal alleged impact on one wealthy family? Such as health care bankruptcy for tens of thousands of Americans? Such as millions involuntarily uninsured or under-insured?

He would say no. He would say, "That's socialism. That's redistribution of wealth, and I'm against it." But as we have pointed out before,this is not socialism, it's progressive taxation. It's what we do here in this country to help take care of people who are poor, of children, of families who are struggling to keep a 10-year-old car running, not driving late model Beemers; who sometimes have to choose between buying medicine and buying food; who get non-emergency health care at the emergency room because they can't afford the cost of an office visit.

Health care reform is imperative because health care in this country works great for some, but there are too many left out in the cold. Health care reform is an issue of social justice.

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