Designing a camel. Pretending it's a horse

Is it horse?I doubt she’d testify, even if called, but as god is my witness, health care “reform” is looking more like a horse show with only camels as contestants. Senator Max DeBaucle (D, MT), on the senate compromise “horse,” walked the course and knockdown the top rails. His creature has so many humps, it’s doubtful it can be even saddled.

After months of Senate Finance Committee negotiation with Republicans, they have finally come to an agreement (click here to read the Baucus/Finance Committee plan): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office stated, “The only thing bipartisan is the opposition.” Former DNC chair, Howard Dean, called it “the worst piece of health care legislation I’ve seen in 30 years.”

While the Baucus/Finance Committee entry meets some of the requirements and the cost is lower than its Democrat rivals, there’s no public option (sets up non-profit coops in every state – yeah, sure) and it is unaffordable for many those who don’t have insurance. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the bill also would, “give employers incentives to avoid hiring low-income parents and could lead to increase in child poverty, and would place burdens on employers.” Most observers believe President Obama would support it (or any bill, just something to sign and move on).

Health Care Bill Comparison Chart

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

 

There’s a reason this debate is so complicated: we (our governments) made it so. The rules for the thousands of health related programs have evolved over a half century and seldom reviewed. We provide more than $250 billion each year in federal health care subsidies for employed workers (yes, the biggest subsidy goes to employed workers through business tax deductions) to own insurance with the vast majority of it going to the richest 10%. We subsidize seniors through Medicare by paying almost double what is paid in. We subsidize private insurance companies through Medicare Advantage plans to a tune of $180 billion. We subsidize the poor through Medicaid at a cost of $200 billion or so and the states match it. We subsidize veteran health care with $40 billion or so. Low income children with about $33 billion, plus some state matching. We subsidize the uninsured at a cost of $30 billion or so, plus some state matching. We subsidize health care of the unemployed for about $100 billion. We subsidize the health costs of employees of US government, plus states have their own. And we subsidized much of the middle class through bankruptcy.

We subsidize research. We subsidize prescriptions. We subsidize equipment. We subsidize distribution. We subsidize health care education. We subsidize construction of medical buildings. We subsidize and regulate that subsidy at every level of the system, and at every level of the system, there is a special interest group with a lobbyist.

Yet, we have a private system. Most of us have coverage we pay for through our employers or directly with insurance companies. The private for-profit health insurance companies (in most states one or two companies control 70% or more of the policies) are regulated by each state and each with different rules. The laws on privacy means we don’t know what or who works and what or who doesn’t and the industry prefers it that way. The methods of reimbursements are so onerously complicated and antiquated, it is an industry in itself. As are the methods to investigate those who try and game the system.

The system is so broken we will never fix it using legislative triage. It is too big to fail and way too big to fix or dismantle in an election cycle.  When someone offers you a simple solution, don’t believe it. The best we can hope for is another bastard camel to win.

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