Thursday, February 26, 2009

Radical Surgery for Health Care

Republicans who went ballistic over the stimulus bill had better check their blood pressures for the Big One--the taxing and spending the Administration wants in order to revolutionize American health care.

"President Obama," the Washington Post reports, "intends to release a budget tomorrow that creates a 10-year, $634 billion 'reserve fund' to partially pay for a vast expansion of the U.S. health care system, an overhaul that many experts project will cost as much as $1 trillion over the next decade."

The New York Times adds: "President Obama will propose further tax increases on the affluent to help pay for his promise to make health care more accessible and affordable...That plan, coming after recent years in which more wealth became concentrated at the top of the income scale, introduces a politically volatile new edge to the emerging Congressional debate over the new president’s top domestic priorities."

The surprise here is that, with his reputation for pragmatism and prudence, the President seems to have decided to go for broke on health care reform now instead of, as Congressional Democrats have suggested, moving "incrementally" during the economic crisis.

The mother of all legislative battles will have Republicans screaming "socialized medicine" over a proposed cap on itemized tax deductions for couples earning more than $250,000 a year to raise a $634 billion “reserve fund” for broadening health care coverage, along with ending billions of dollars in Bush-era subsidies to insurance companies under the Medicare Advantage program.

Drug company lobbyists will go berserk over a proposal to increase the rebate for medications sold to Medicaid patients from 15 percent to 21 percent, and hospitals will hate a new flat-fee plan to keep them from profiting on readmission of Medicare patients within 30 days of discharge, as they now do.

In any case, the "Harry and Louise" commercials that killed the Clintons' reform efforts in 1993 won't work in a time when Americans are worried about much more than having the government involved in doctor-patient relationships.

This time, if the health care industry wants to hold onto its bloodsucking profits, they and their Republican allies will have to offer substantive arguments to an all-out Obama offensive for some of the reforms that are long overdue.


Anonymous said...

Healthcare government involvement should be limited to paying for care at facilities and providers who agree to a fee structure similar to Medicare.

Government administered 'essential and preventive' Healthcare should be mandatory for those who do not opt out for insurance in either the private 'for profit sector' as presently available, or in a private 'non profit sector' who may offer other than essential care and preventive coverage for an additional premium.
Government administered insurance should cover all essential services and preventive care at a premium that pays for itself.

lahru said...

I do not believe that the Republican leaders in Congress will be able to keep all of the members is lock step on this one. It is going to be interesting to see how the Republicans frame the debate. I just don't see anything that they can grab onto that is heavy enough to stop being pulled over to Obama's side. They have worn out all of the saying and words during the 2 year capmaign, primaries and the stimulus offense.

Drama Queen said...

I'd like to know how you think the pharamceutical advertising-based media will handle this proposal? Will they allow even one in six commenters to support reform? Will they reject pro-reform advertising underwritten by progressive non-profits? And if they do that (and you know they'll be tempted to), how then can they justify their public licenses? Or will there be so much anti-reform spots that the few pro-reform ones will be "avalanched" into obscurity?