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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Coming to a DMV near you: the next chapter of health care reform

I had previously blogged about how the unions appear to have sacrificed personal interest for the greater good of health care reform and how the the threat of a government plan driving private plans out of business is yak droppings. Looks like I am 1 out of 2.

SEIU and AFscme left the bargaining table known as Health Reform Dialogue according to this NY Times article. The issue appeared to be industry opposition to a government plan (aka Medicare for All) and the requirement that employers pay for health care. These two unions are for both and it appears that the bargaining table was moving against both. It is unknown or uncertain why the unions withdrew but from the article it appears that they really want a government plan as an option so people can say no to private insurance plans. In some ways, I am technically right that the unions are not preserving their interests of being able to offer awesome health insurance. However, they are advancing a "punish the insurance companies" agenda as a reason for their support of the government plan. From comments, I have received, I can't really blame anyone for wanting to punish insurance companies.

By the way, the "Medicare for All" notion sound like those introductory cards that I get to join the AARP. If I had a Medicare plan before I'm 40, I couldn't help but feel old and I bet that my driving would get a lot worse.

The Threat of the Government Plan is the latest spectre that's being waved as the threat to the American way of health care as we know it. We're going to become like Canada but without the maple syrup. That's fine with me as I prefer Mrs Butterworth.

I had posted about it previously and Maggie Mahar eloquently dissected Missouri Senator Roy Blunt's argument. On the one hand, Senator Blunt argues that a government sponsored plan will drive private plans out of business. Mahar points out that this assumes that the government offers such a successful plan that people leave their current plans in droves. In other words, the government is able to do what tons of business people and trillions of dollars in market capitalization have not been able to accomplish by creating a health plan that people are so excited about that they all dump their current insurance. This leads into Blunt's second point as he does a U-turn and talks about how bad the government plan would be. This is where he is mean to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). First, I have to comment on how the DMV gets a bad rep and I have always found them to be very friendly with wonderful senses of humor. They actually get me to smile every time they take my picture. However, to finish my point, Blunt points out the horror of a government bureaucracy health plan where we would all get our names mispronounced, stay on hold for days, and have to fill out 13 page forms to make an appointment. Scheduling a hospital stay would require a request from your senator.

Blunt's position of how a government plan will fail if it's so wildly successful since it will bankrupt the insurance business or fail if it's wildly awful reinforces this as pure fear mongering. I hate to see what happens when debate actually starts. I'm predicting headlines of:

  • Obama Plan will cause families to start kicking their pets!
  • Obama Plan will bankrupt the Ice Cream industry! Kids are already Crying!
  • Doctors to be replaced by Bored DMV Clerks in the Obama Plan!
  • Obama Plan will result in Bed Pan Shortage!

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