Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Health Care and Public Interests

My neighbor just returned from spending six months in England, and his comments regarding their attitude toward their National Health Service were interesting. He said that both political parties are supportive of the NHS, and that no politician would dare attack or even criticize it because to do so would mean catastrophic defeat at election time. The British love their NHS and think the United States people are complete idiots for the way we do health care.

What the British spend, in the form of taxes: $2,992.00
What the United States spend per person: $7,290.00

That is spending per person, per year on healthcare, and we do not get any better results. No wonder the British think we are idiots. We are idiots.

Yesterday I cited Paul Krugman’s column and agreed with his comment about Republicans campaigning using adolescent spite, but disagreed by implication with his assertion that Democrats are the party of logic and reason. Well, perhaps it was more than implication.

Tactics aside, both parties govern with the primary goal of the preservation of their own hold on political power. Democrats add a sop to populism, but their primary purpose is just as nakedly about power maintenance as is Republicanism.

The “health care reform” debate is a case in point. If public interest were really the purpose of debate, then reform would be to “assure that everyone receives health care,” not to “assure that everyone can buy insurance.”

The cost goal would be to reduce the cost that Americans pay for health care, so that Americans would be paying proportionally closer to the same amount as the rest of the world to receive the same benefit as the rest of the world receives. One Democratic politician after another says that health care costs have risen unacceptably and are presently crippling American industry and American people, but the cost goal is “to slow the growth of health care costs.” Not one single Democrat, from the President down, has so much as suggested actually reducing present costs.

If the best interests of the American people was the goal, the debate would be focused on regulating health care costs more at the provider level where they are created, and not merely at the insurance level where they are paid. Certainly regulation of the insurance industry is necessary, but doing so in the absence of regulation of providers is demagoguery, not reform.

The Democratic goal is not the best interests of the American people. The Democratic goal is to pass a bill that they can applaud as “fundamental health care reform” to assure their own reelection, and the actual content of that bill is not really important. They will cheerfully accept whatever that can get through the lobbyists who actually write our legislation, using whatever “deal making” is necessary.

And we keep reelecting Congress at a 95% rate. We are idiots.

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