Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fearmongers two, the revenge ...

I was just going to take a fast shot, remark that it must drive former President Bush crazy that Miss Venezuela has won the Miss Universe pageant twice in a row now. Hugo must be cackling.

But I got to thinking some more about the health/insurance care/reform debate. Conservatives are making a transparent effort to throw every possible argument out there and just see what sticks. They know there is almost no hope they can influence the debate, so they are trying to shut it down. Getting rid of the Public Option was fine for them (except I don’t think it is actually dead) but they still want to delay (“let’s take our time and do this right”) and essentially defeat it. Tom Coburn, on the Meet the Press a couple of Sunday’s ago said two opposite things about end of life counseling. First he said it was an intensely private thing, where government had no place (a thing for families only). Then he said doctors would ignore end of life directives and practice defensive medicine because only the family says what the end of life directive is, there is no official authority involved.

But conservatives are really outrageous on Medicare. First, because it will start losing money in eight years, it is held up as an example of why government should stay out of the health insurance business. Then the fact it only pays 80% of a doctors’ charge is held up as a problem. That other 20% must be made up somewhere else, according to conservatives it is passed on to private insurance. So even though Medicare is going to start losing money, it should not be trying to contain costs. Would it be ok to raise taxes to prevent Medicare from going into the red? No, not in this economy! Meanwhile, Republicans portray themselves as the saviors of seniors, only interested in protecting them.

People should realize that private health insurance companies also only pay 80% of what they describe as a Usual, Customary and Reasonable charge for whatever service. Doctors and hospitals often accept that (from private insurers and Medicare) because the payment is guaranteed. But we should know that Medicare is not unique in trying to contain costs.

Still, that people are buying into conservatives arguments is, to me, nothing short of astonishing.

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