Health care as a political issue

I ran across a couple of items about health care and politics this morning. Close to home, Blue Indiana and Sylvia Smith highlight the dishonesty of President Bush and Mark Souder in their opposition of the bill to provide health care to children (also opposed by Baron Hill, Steve Buyer, Dan Burton, and Mike Pence). Bush and his parrots are pushing the line that the bill would pay for health care for children of families making $83,000 per year. That figure is just flat not true. But, I guess they have to grasp at straws to explain opposition to providing health care to children when their failed policies in Iraq are costing taxpayers $2 to $3 billion per week.

Dark Syde at Daily Kos has a post about the decreasing effectiveness of the rhetoric of those who oppose national universal health care.

And the scare tactics used to deprive us of decent, affordable medical insurance time and time again? Well, those old gray talking points ain’t what they used to be …

Universal Healthcare means waiting in line for rationed, life-saving treatment!

Do people who spout this crap truly believe that anyone is buying it any more? We’re waiting in line now and everyone knows it.

health care


  1. Pila says

    Doug: Interesting. What I’ve been running into in my line of work, is people who indeed want health care rationing–although they would not use that term–and who are politically conservative. The rationing would only be for the poor, the old and infirm who are not wealthy enough to pay for their care, and others who apparently don’t “deserve” decent health care.

    These people are obsessed with emergency rooms being used for non-emergency care, as if that is the most pressing problem about health care. And of course, only poor people and people who don’t have the decency and good sense to have health problems M-F from 8a-5p use emergency rooms for non-emergencies. Nevermind, also, that at many hospitals those non-emergency cases bring in the revenue to staff and equip the emergency department for those “true emergencies.”

    These same people are not obsessed with the $300K per year that Anthem board members make (and by the way, what kind of oversight can occur when board members pocket that kind of money?) and the other bloat in the health insurance industry. All of the problems with health care are the fault of poor people and/or old poor people and if we could just get them to do what we want, such as go to (non-existent) urgent care centers instead of emergency rooms; opt for home care and adult foster care when they become old and infirm and cannot take care of themselves, limit their choices, etc., all of the problems in health care would be solved. If you are well off and/or have good insurance, however, you can have the best health care and all options available to you. If that is not health care rationing, I don’t know what is.

  2. says

    The dynamic about poor folks using emergency rooms isn’t so much about getting sick at the wrong times. Instead, it’s about not being able to afford preventative care — or at least thinking they can’t afford it — and then putting off treatment hoping things get better. Eventually some of the stuff doesn’t get any better and they have to opt for the more expensive emergency room treatment.

  3. Jack says

    I would return to comments on this subject made earlier—-why if health care is such an important topic why not be upfront and seek funding from general taxes—yes a minority of people will be paying for health insurance for more than the number paying taxes for it. But why smokers paying for funding health care for the “needy” why not $.50 per bottle of beer or $1 per fifth or whatever and use that money for insurance for the “needy”. Not trying to be cute about the “needy” thing but let us be real and look at the spending habits of many of those seeking others to cover basic needs. Simply why so much emphasis on “cost shifting” going on whereby things like tobacco are taxed to fund non related activities. With the current concerns about property taxes one of the basic points is that real estate taxes pay for non related expenses. In the minds of some (those wishing to be elected and many of the voters) the fairest tax is the one I don’t pay (even if it is for services I receive.) As a moderate conservative I do have problems with some of the solutions that keep being proposed.

  4. says

    I tend to agree that a general tax should be the basis of government paid or subsidized health insurance premiums. As a non-smoker, I find it hard to get too worked up over a cigarette tax (Don’t like it? Don’t smoke.) But, just as a philosophical matter, a cigarette tax has the problem of being either unfair or ineffective. A cigarette tax is unfair to the extent the expense imposed on the smoker exceeds the smoker’s excess cost to the health care system. It’s ineffective to the extent it discourages smoking, thereby decreasing the tax base.

  5. Pila says

    Doug: Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I agree with what you are saying for the most part. However, I have heard people, particularly advocates of
    “consumer driven” health care obsess over emergency room usage in just the way I stated above. I attended a town hall meeting on health care reform in June. The the moderator kept trying to turn the conversation to abuse of emergency departments. He even went so far to say that people are showing up in EDs with minor ailments such as sniffles and diarrhea (which isn’t always a minor ailment, by the way) and suggested that perhaps it is time to change federal law to no longer mandate that EDs have to see everyone who comes through the door.

    Every time anyone at the meeting tried to bring up universal care, lack of so-called urgent care centers in rural areas, problems created by the health insurance industry, etc., the moderator (who claimed to be non-partisan) kept bringing the conversation back to the emergency room abuse issue. I believe that there are a lot of problems with health care reform that seeks to focus on one or two problems while ignoring others, particularly the “consumer driven” health care model.

    There is an assumption that the only people who “misuse” emergency rooms are poor, uneducated people who don’t take good care of themselves. Therefore, they are driving up the costs of health care by using expensive emergency room services due to lack of prevention or due to running to the ED for every minor ailment. Are poor people and others who don’t take care of themselves the only people who use emergency rooms for non-emergencies? Hardly. Most clinics and dr. offices are not open 24/7. Emergency departments are open all the time, therefore, they get all types of patients for all types of reasons.

    But I really think there is another, deeper reason for all the emphasis on keeping people out of EDs. Many people have an underlying rage against “the other.” Those people who don’t take care of themselves, who won’t stop smoking, who live off of the goverment, who clog up emergency rooms, etc., etc., are the cause of problems. If we could only get them to change their behavior, the world would be a much better place. Of course, those who think that way never imagine that they may be waiting in an emergency dept. on a Friday night; that they may lose a job and not have an easy time finding another one; that their elderly parents(or they themselved in later years) may have to use goverment assistance to pay for their health care. No, no. It is only irresponsible, lazy people who wind up having to do those things. If we could just “incentivize” them to do better, health care issues would magically disappear.

    Also, there is the fear of death, or the fear of a painful death and a miserable old age. Hey, I push preventive care all the time. However, I know that it is not a guarantee against illness. We want to believe that if we exercise enough, get checkups and eat right that we will live to a ripe old age and die peacefully. Chronic conditions only befall those who don’t take care of themselves, are lazy, irresponsible, etc. We don’t want to believe that chronic conditions are sometimes a result of aging. Yes, you may live better if you take care of yourself, but you probably won’t be disease-free, no matter what you do. And you could be devastated by an illness or accident that has little, if anything, to do with preventive measures taken or not taken. No one wants to accept that. We want easy, simple answers, and we want to think that we are better than others.

  6. says

    Pila decribes the new economic thinking that started around the Reagan era. We’re looking for the ‘noble savage’ who Rousseau believed was corrupted by society.This new 21st Century savage will go to ER’s and free clinics and forego comprehensive health care and work for $5-10 an hour without health insurance. We must keep him moral and humble and accepting of his lot in life or he’ll ruin the the good life of the investor class,the new American elite.The BIG flaw in the system is everyone can’t be in the investor class and live on dividends or there’d be nobody to mow the lawns,build houses, pick the fruit,clean the houses.So now we have to have shadowy illegals to do our nitty-gritty, because union wages cut profit and bring down the economy.I can’t draw a picture of our future in this country.It might depend on whether we stay in our conservative phase or go back to our liberal ideals.Many bad things happened to various groups of people in the past in this country ,but maybe we had a better sense that they were wrong and needed to be corrected.We used to think that history was progressive and everything gets better.That’s called ‘American thinking’ in Europe.

  7. says

    Made me think of Reagan lying about Cadillac driving welfare Queens:

    Cadillac Queens.
    Over a period of about five years, Reagan told the story of the “Chicago welfare queen” who had 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards, and collected benefits for “four nonexisting deceased husbands,” bilking the government out of “over $150,000.” The real welfare recipient to whom Reagan referred was actually convicted for using two different aliases to collect $8,000. Reagan continued to use his version of the story even after the press pointed out the actual facts of the case to him.

  8. says

    That recalls an incident in my high school latin class years ago when the teacher had just told us a myth about Roman valor ( a soldier held a fox inside his coat and allowed himself to be mauled in quiet stoicism so others wouldn’t know his pain) Another student asked the teacher if a myth is true or is it false? I still remember her response .’It’s not so much if it’s true or not,but if people think it’s true,then we can judge the values of a culture in that time and place by what they thought to be true..’I was unsatisfied for a long time with her answer because I wanted to hear ‘yes’or ‘no’ .But in retrospect it explains Reagan’s Welfare Queen story.Of course Reagan would continue telling it.It fits exactly into what he and his followers believe to be true and therefore is ‘culturally’ true if not ‘factually’ so.

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