Monday, January 22, 2007

Bush at It Again

Bush never misses an opportunity to cut taxes for those most likely to vote Republican. The rest of America does not exist for him. Dan Froomkin of White House Briefing quotes from a Paul Krugman column:
Quoting from Bush's radio address, Krugman writes: "Those are the words of someone with no sense of what it's like to be uninsured.

"Going without health insurance isn't like deciding to rent an apartment instead of buying a house. It's a terrifying experience, which most people endure only if they have no alternative. The uninsured don't need an 'incentive' to buy insurance; they need something that makes getting insurance possible.

"Most people without health insurance have low incomes, and just can't afford the premiums. And making premiums tax-deductible is almost worthless to workers whose income puts them in a low tax bracket.

"Of those uninsured who aren't low-income, many can't get coverage because of pre-existing conditions -- everything from diabetes to a long-ago case of jock itch. Again, tax deductions won't solve their problem.

Unless they're paid for, new tax deductions are the equivalent of tax cuts and given Bush's financial house of cards that he's built over the last six years, they are likely to add to the nation's growing red ink without substantially accomplishing anything.

I live in a county where health care is increasingly broken. We have three large hospitals, one of which is about to close because of heavy financial losses and the other two are not prepared to handle all the new patients. Doctors are either moving out of the county because they can't make a living or they're working for a wage for someone like Kaiser which increasingly is forced to practice a kind of rationed medicine in order to remain financially solvent. In the last five years, my wife and I have had eight different primary care physicians because of the medical musical chairs caused by employers changing health insurance or doctors moving away. One of the biggest problems with the county is that Medicare considers our county a rural county despite a rapidly growing population and rising housing costs. We can't get the government to change our ratings on Medicare but the next county over gets the urban rate while we get the rural rate.

Medicare, when it is allowed to do what it's supposed to do, is very efficient with little overhead. Corporate health care, however, is burdened with bureaucracy, multiple insurance forms (with widely varying filing procedures and requirements), exclusions, contradictions and even built-in money schemes that denies money to doctors and care for patients (credit card companies are not much different these days when it comes to cute games).

I can remember years ago going to a doctor's office and seeing one nurse and one office worker. In a small office, there's now about a half dozen people just to handle paper work and that doesn't count the doctor's group for HMOs in a centralized location that amounts to another layer of bureaucracy. Health care in our country is broken and the best George W. Bush can do is offer a tiny band-aid? Shame on him and shame on the Republicans.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

It's precisely the sort of "solution" to be expected from someone who dislikes government and doesn't think government has any business being helpful with such matters.

The idea behind it isn't to actually help people who need health care insurance. More likely, the idea is to give the impression of doing something substantial while really doing almost nothing of real benefit.

The added bonus down the line, from a neocon Republican point of view, is that people catch on to how worthless the government program is and decide government can't or won't do anything helpful for people in need.

Then, they're free to either get worse or get well — whatever God wills.

5:58 PM  

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