Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Health Care "Free Market" No One Wants

UDP's Todd Taylor:

The net of our current "free market" system is a tacit agreement between insurers and care providers. The insurers take the premiums and profits from statistically healthier groups while providers financially squeeze the uninsured and underinsured remainder into poverty or bankruptcy. The result is that nearly two-thirds of U.S. bankruptcies are health care-related.

Such a market allocation would ordinarily violate restraint of trade laws. Yet, our very laws and regulations are used as a shield to protect insurers and providers when coverage is denied and exhorbitant individual payment later extracted.

For example, in this past Utah legislative session, laws were passed with respect to insurance coverage requirements and exclusions for selected illnesses, thus legislatively allocating and regulating risk. In addition, the rules on patient record confidentiality allow insurers to obtain access to confidential patient information providing a basis for coverage exclusion. Yet, when coverage denial is challenged, these very "confidentiality" rules are used as a shield to deny accountability.

And in a continued effort to continue that denial, conservatives like Orrin Hatch have memorized the Frank Luntz talking points like trained monkeys. Luntz is a smart man. He's had success crafting vapid bullet point messaging strategies before. But this time around his sound bytes, repeated ad naseum, are falling on a majority of suspicious ears. Why? I think Iglesias explains it best:

This stuff is all red herrings. The main health reform ideas will not cause anyone to lose the insurance they already have and will not do anything to change people’s relationships with their doctors. Its about changing people’s relationships with their insurance companies, and about providing some subsidies so that everyone can afford insurance. Free market health care is about letting people die of treatable ailments if they don’t happen to have the money to pay. As Kyl says, it’s not a very compelling message.

Multiple public opinion polls (even when answering loaded questions in a GOP poll) show a majority support reform that includes a public option. Conservatives (and a few Democrats, alas) are again fighting tooth and nail for maintaining the status quo while calling it reform, much like they did during the stimulus debates, the original TARP bailouts (where they opposed the oversight they now urge unhinged Tea Baggers to rally against), and -- most recently -- the financial industry reforms the administration recommended.

Add to this their latest meme that Iran is "benefitting" from our so keeningly exacted indefinite occupation of Iraq, and comparing the Iranian protests to "tea parties" it's getting very difficult to take any of them seriously on any issue, let alone something as important as the future of our health care.

UPDATE: Have you signed Dr. Dean's public option petition?

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