Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Honesty Option for Health Care

The debate is heading for rock bottom.

"If you like your plan," Barack Obama promises for the umpteenth time in the Rose Garden yesterday, "you'll be able to keep it. And each bill provides for a public option that will keep insurance companies honest, ensuring the competition necessary to make coverage affordable."

At tonight's press conference, will someone please ask the President why, half a century after handing over health care to profit-making private insurers, it should be necessary now to keep them "honest"?

Meanwhile, the industry that gave Americans one of the worst medical systems in the world at the highest cost is busy lobbying for more of the same with the legislative watchdogs like Sen. Max Baucus, who are negotiating the details of how to reform their ways.

In the House, we are in Joe the Plumber territory, as Democrats propose to pay premiums for the poor by taxing the very wealthy, couples making $500,000 a year or, as Nancy Pelosi is now hinting, perhaps $1 million.

This would affect only a tiny fraction of the richest Americans but, in their Joe-the-Plumber fantasies, the working class can empathize with Republican outcries. "Tax is a four-letter word" with voters, says conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, pointing out that even families not in the top 1 percent "hope they're going to be there someday."

In the Wall Street Journal, one of the last rising Republican stars still standing, Bobby Jindal accuses Obama of a "fundamentally dishonest approach to reform," contending that "Democrats disingenuously argue their reforms will not diminish the quality of our health care even as government involvement in the delivery of that health care increases massively.

"For all of us who have seen the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to hurricanes, this contention is laughable on its face. When government bureaucracies drive the delivery of services--in this case inserting themselves between health-care providers and their patients--quality degradation will surely come."

When the GOP sinks to using Bush's Heckuva-Job Brownie to beat up on Democratic health care plans, the debate must be nearing low tide.

No comments: