An issue sliding under the radar

Posted: 07/09/2008 by ttownjotes in health care, socialism

I have to give a hat tip to PolitickerMD for uncovering this little article today – while I’m sure it’s a fine newspaper I don’t make a habit of reading the Carroll County Times. The story by writer Erica Kritt puts a local spin on the issue, and the paper should be commended for taking the time to look at this small protest and bringing it to light.

The article also brought up this fairly new website with the moniker Health Care For America Now. Of course, while they claim to be a “national grassroots campaign organizing millions of Americans to win a guarantee of quality, affordable health care for all”, it’s the same old far-left organizations who have persisted in this effort for many moons. A list of “organizational members” goes like this:

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America’s Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Center for Community Change, MoveOn.org, National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Service Employees International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers, and USAction.

You got it, mostly union thugs. Of course, they’ve couched their aim in much better language than simply saying “socialized health care” – now it’s a question of insurance:

We’re offering a bold new solution that gives you real choice and a guarantee of quality coverage you can afford: keep your current private insurance plan, pick a new private insurance plan, or join a public health insurance plan.

We’re also calling for regulation on health insurance companies. We need to set and enforce rules that quash health insurance companies’ greed once and for all. There is a huge divide between our plan and the insurance companies’ plan for healthcare reform. We want to make sure you have the quality coverage you need at the price you can afford. They want to leave you alone to fend for yourself in the unregulated, bureaucratic health insurance market.

Our plan is affordable for people and business. Their plan is profitable for them. With no regulation, health insurance companies can and will charge whatever they want, set high deductibles, and continue to drop coverage when you get sick. Now is the time to pick a side.

So the “real choice” I have would be to be insured by a company that will soon be bankrupted by the burden of additional regulation and taxation, another company that will follow a similar fate at some point either before or after my original choice, or be insured by the government and watch my taxes increase as more and more people are forced from the now-bankrupt private insurers and into the arms of government bureaucracy. Some choice.

I see nothing in their plan about common-sense solutions like medical savings accounts or tort reform, which would bring down costs by reducing the liability insurance burden all physicians share. Nor is there room for fee-for-service, which some doctor offices are getting back into in order to avoid the paperwork hassles of insurance companies. (Do you honestly think there will be less paperwork if the government is in charge of your health insurance? Give me a break.)

This also leads into more ancilliary issues. Take illegal immigration, which drives up health care costs to varying degrees depending on the influx of undocumented workers in a particular area. Rarely do they pay for the services provided, and while some costs are passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices hospitals try to charge, more often it’s a loss to the hospital or clinic and too many losses force the facilities to close their doors permanently. While this may not be a total cause and effect, it bears noting that Prince George’s County here in Maryland is a safe haven in all but name for illegals and also has a hospital system which required a bailout in this year’s Maryland budget.

Another concern I have about the HCAN approach is the overabundance of regulations already in place and whether there would be any effort to streamline things. At least with a for-profit insurer there are efforts to control costs – and while the most egregious efforts grab headlines and make their industry appear even more cruel and heartless, on the whole the health care insurers are making an honest effort to make the system simpler despite the maze of regulations in place as lawmakers attempt to placate one group or another. Unfortunately, an approach that treats health insurers as the enemy leaves out an important portion of the equation that needs to be accounted.

It’s also worthy of note that HCAN gets a large share of funding from the Tides Foundation, “quickly becoming the 800-pound gorilla of radical activist funding, and this couldn’t happen without a nine-figure balance sheet” according to the website activistcash.com.

Of course, the HCAN website asks “which side are you on?” and offers only the chance to sign a petition showing your support. I’m on the side of personal choice myself, and if it means I’m allied with the so-called “greedy” health insurers I suppose I could think of worse company to be in.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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