The Healthcare Summit

One of the biggest things to come out of last week’s healthcare summit in my mind was the clear separation of the priorities of the two parties.  Never has it been more clear where Democrats and Republicans stand in regards to what they think about the American people, and their fundamental view toward health care.

Eric Cantor (R-Va) and John Boehner (R-Pa) sat there and proudly proclaimed that the Republicans had this great plan that would cover an additional three million Americans!  That’s outstanding, except that there’s over 40 million Americans without any kind of health insurance, most of whom are unable to get it for one reason or another, either due to pre-existing condition exclusions or simply because they cannot afford it.

On the other hand, the “Democratic” plan (I use quotes because the plan contains so many previously Republican supported ideas and initiatives, such as the individual mandate and the ability to purchase policies across state lines) covers an additional 30 million Americans.  Hhmmmmmm…….let’s see…….I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that 30 million is more than three million…….a LOT more!  The Republican sponsored plan also reduces the budget deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office, by $60 billion over 10 years.  Whereas the “Democrat” plan reduces the budget deficit (again, according to the CBO) by over $132 billion over 10 years, and $1 trillion over the next 10 years.  And again, not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure than $132 billion is more than $60 billion.

Another major point of contention is the Republicans insistence that we can get more people covered by creating “high risk pools.”  On the surface it seems like a good idea.  After all, it provides a mechanism for people who’ve been denied coverage or kicked off their plan by the insurance companies to get at least some kind of coverage.  The problem is that this has been done–particularly here in California–and it only exacerbates the problem.  These are people, who by the very definition of the pool, are in need of the most care.  Many are cancer patients or survivors.  And these policies that they’re being directed to cost them thousands of dollars per month and often put ridiculous limits on what kinds or how much care they can receive.  These are the people who are driven into bankruptcy because of the astronomical costs of their health insurance alone!

Creating more and segregating more people into “high risk” pools will do nothing to bring down the costs of these types of policies.  Rather, it gives the insurance companies free rein to further gouge these victims.  They’re trapped in high cost, high deductible plans with no way out.  While it is true that the “Democrat” plan also includes the use of “high risk” pools, it’s only used as a short-term bridge to get us to the massive exchanges that are also included in the plan, which will serve to spread the risk out amongst potentially hundreds of millions of people, making these high risk customers much less risky overall (since the costs of covering them will be blunted by the massive number of people in the system).  The Democrats understand the plight of these “high risk” people and are actually trying to help them.  The Republicans are merely trying to further segregate them and isolate them, as pointed out by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Ia) during the summit.

The bottom line is this:  Democrats consider health care to be a basic, fundamental right.  Republicans consider health care to be a privilege that is available only if you have enough money to pay for it.  If you get sick and can’t pay for care, then too bad.  If you can’t afford health insurance, too bad.  Democrats are for protecting the rights of consumers, Republicans are against consumer protections of any kind.  Florida Congressman Alan Grayson pretty much hit the nail on the head when he said that the Republican plan was “if you get sick, DIE QUICKLY!”

Eric Cantor emphasized repeatedly yesterday in his appearance on Meet the Press that the Republicans want to provide healthcare to America.  But their actions and policies clearly scream out otherwise.

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