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The Republican lies about the economics of health reform...

Original post made by Washington Post on Aug 6, 2009

"The Republican lies about the economics of health reform are also heavily laced with hypocrisy."




Washington Post
By Steven Pearlstein
Friday, August 7, 2009

As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don't agree. Today, I'm going to step over that line.



The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress -- I've made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.

Under any plan likely to emerge from Congress, the vast majority of Americans who are not old or poor will continue to buy health insurance from private companies, continue to get their health care from doctors in private practice and continue to be treated at privately owned hospitals.

The centerpiece of all the plans is a new health insurance exchange set up by the government where individuals, small businesses and eventually larger businesses will be able to purchase insurance from private insurers at lower rates than are now generally available under rules that require insurers to offer coverage to anyone regardless of health condition. Low-income workers buying insurance through the exchange -- along with their employers -- would be eligible for government subsidies. While the government will take a more active role in regulating the insurance market and increase its spending for health care, that hardly amounts to the kind of government-run system that critics conjure up when they trot out that oh-so-clever line about the Department of Motor Vehicles being in charge of your colonoscopy.


There is still a vigorous debate as to whether one of the insurance options offered through those exchanges would be a government-run insurance company of some sort. There are now less-than-even odds that such a public option will survive in the Senate, while even House leaders have agreed that the public plan won't be able to piggy-back on Medicare. So the probability that a public-run insurance plan is about to drive every private insurer out of business -- the Republican nightmare scenario -- is approximately zero.

By now, you've probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.

First of all, that's not a trillion every year, as most people assume -- it's a trillion over 10 years, which is the silly way that people in Washington talk about federal budgets. On an annual basis, that translates to about $140 billion, when things are up and running.

Even that, however, grossly overstates the net cost to the government of providing universal coverage. Other parts of the reform plan would result in offsetting savings for Medicare: reductions in unnecessary subsidies to private insurers, in annual increases in payments rates for doctors and in payments to hospitals for providing free care to the uninsured. The net increase in government spending for health care would likely be about $100 billion a year, a one-time increase equal to less than 1 percent of a national income that grows at an average rate of 2.5 percent every year.

The Republican lies about the economics of health reform are also heavily laced with hypocrisy.

While holding themselves out as paragons of fiscal rectitude, Republicans grandstand against just about every idea to reduce the amount of health care people consume or the prices paid to health-care providers -- the only two ways I can think of to credibly bring health spending under control.

When Democrats, for example, propose to fund research to give doctors, patients and health plans better information on what works and what doesn't, Republicans sense a sinister plot to have the government decide what treatments you will get. By the same wacko-logic, a proposal that Medicare pay for counseling on end-of-life care is transformed into a secret plan for mass euthanasia of the elderly.

Government negotiation on drug prices? The end of medical innovation as we know it, according to the GOP's Dr. No. Reduce Medicare payments to overpriced specialists and inefficient hospitals? The first step on the slippery slope toward rationing.

Can there be anyone more two-faced than the Republican leaders who in one breath rail against the evils of government-run health care and in another propose a government-subsidized high-risk pool for people with chronic illness, government-subsidized community health centers for the uninsured, and opening up Medicare to people at age 55?

Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society -- whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off. Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.

If health reform is to be anyone's Waterloo, let it be theirs.

Comments (5)

Posted by The Whole Truth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2009 at 12:48 am

This article is a little shady.

The author begins by stating, "I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don't agree." So pretty much he is saying he is a Democrat or at least in favor of this health-care plan.

Article: "But there is no credible way **to look at what has been proposed** by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system."

The asteriks were my emphasis to point out that it might not be the plan on the table right now, but we all know if you get your foot in the door you can usually get it wide open.

And that's the plan. But let me allow your president to tell you himself...

Web Link


Posted by Puppy's, a resident of Civic Square
on Aug 7, 2009 at 8:33 am

Poor puppy's! Republicans are sore loosers!


Posted by Unemployed, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 7, 2009 at 10:51 am

We can't seem to have any discussions without blaming either party. I am simply sick of it... Everyone in Washington can take the blame for this mess we are in. It's amazing not less than 3 weeks ago, the newspaper and TV news are saying the economy is not recovering due to the data presented... Yet, during the past 3 weeks, the latest data shows something different. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to say economy is turning around... Come on! One data point.. yes one data point... you do see more data to make you feel good about 'more data'. It's the same data that is presented in a different light... In engineering, one is taught to take more data not just rely on one data point... The job loss count is less this week... so, everything is fine and dandy... how about all the job losses that have not been recovered? To me, economy is not recovering unless we have an increase in jobs not just the $10-$15/hr jobs... let's not kid ourselves that economy is great when $10-$15/hr jobs will save this country...

As to the healthcare, I cannot make any judgement until I hear how the government plan will work... Has any of the supporters read the actual document? Try reading it... It doesn't make sense... On one hand, they are saying that they won't force the insurance company to take on clients that do not meet their 'loss ratio' based on their health background. This is like insuring (life insurance) someone with cancer who has 1 month to live. Would you do it? Think twice before answering... Yet, you hear that 'someone' will make sure everyone has insurance... how is that going to work... math and common sense doesn't match... Call you Congressman and Senator during the August Break and ask for details! Ask for an explanation...

THis isn't about Republicans and Democrates.. It's about $'s and cents... If we want national healthcare, let's have everyone on it.. if it is a mixture of public and private healthcare, we (as taxpayers) need to know who this is going to work? If I can get the same healthcare in a public system and live off of the tax dollars, then why should I pay a penny out of my pocket for private health insurance? Is the government going to tell me that I make too much and I have to be in private health care... Think about this... Ask the questions... If you are a Democrate, don't just agree with 'O'.. you have a brain, think about what this national healthcare involves... If you are a Republican, don't blast the plan just because it is a plan from the other side... Think about what you are saying...

Let's have a TRUE DIALOGUE and come up a real plan that will make be true reform... I ask both sides to come to the table and discuss... check your emotions and check you anger... let's talk!


Posted by Bob, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 7, 2009 at 11:13 am

Unemployed,

Well if the economy is getting better I sure do not see it. As a matter of fact my company has layed off, eliminated bonuses, reduced pay, and told us this week that unless things turn around they are going to consider reducing headcount by 20% more. That is 14,000 jobs.


Posted by Unemployed, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 7, 2009 at 11:20 am

Bob,

I don't see it either... All the job #'s are probably based on $10-$15/hr jobs... Everyone simply says.. "jobs lags all the indicators". We will see...

BTW, I have been out for more than 6 months... 'Overqualified' is the word for the season!


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