Editor’s Note: As I keep saying, I don’t live in a left-right or conservative-liberal mental cage. In my view, these devisions of the people are cultivated by our oligarchs while, in reality, each and every one of us carries inside a mix of conservative and progressive ideas, “right” and “left” notions, and a zoo of diverse opinions — even more so when we start to think things through. Still, many people do still self-identify as belonging to this camp or that camp, and – by the way they talk – they fit one of the official molds. The author I present today (for the second time) fits the “conservative” (or libertarian?) mold. He admits to have originally sneered at universal health care and greatly favored our “free market” private health insurance system (personally, I wonder what is supposed to be free about private insurers holding our health for ransom). However, he has come around to support government-financed universal healthcare. Below you can discover what made him change his mind. — Dirk Droll
So, here is Jon Saltzman’s most recent argument for universal healthcare, first published yesterday (08-01-2017) on Political Storm and reprinted here with his permission (remember: you, too, can submit an article to this blog):
Four Observations About The Republican Health Care Train Wreck
by Jon Saltzman
Do you remember the original Addams Family television series? One of my favorite bits they did was during the episodes where Gomez plays with his trains and Uncle and the goal was to create a spectacular wreck. What an appropriate image this is for those of us who recently witnessed the Congressional Republicans’ hellacious attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. You knew all the time that the train wreck was coming but you just didn’t know how. Gomez himself couldn’t have done a better job.
Here are four lessons that we should all learn from watching the carnage in Washington:
Effective leaders always have a plan ready to go.
Leadership is all about the plan and executing on the plan and creating scenarios to test the plan and revise it if necessary. Suffice to say, the Republicans in Congress came up ridiculously short in the planning department.
Look, after Obamacare was passed by the Democrat controlled Washington, the Republicans cried out to their base for support and they were elected in droves, finally controlling Congress by in the 2014 elections.
But they insisted they still weren’t strong enough to repeal and replace Obamacare. No- they needed the Presidency too. And in 2016, their voters delivered a Republican President in Donald Trump.
Yet even holding all the cards in D.C. they could not deliver a viable health care plan. It seems that during those bitter eight years under Obama they never thought to work on one for when they took over.
And what was their excuse for this paucity of planning? When asked about Congressional Republicans colossal failure to make a plan, Pat Toomey, the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania said, “Look, I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn’t, so we didn’t expect to be in this situation.”
It turns out the Republicans were like the dog who chases cars and finally catches one, but can’t drive it.
The Democrats haven’t exactly covered themselves in Glory.
The Democrats designed Obamacare in the first place and it is collapsing from its poor design. Many citizens are down to one or no choices in their health care exchanges and all of the additional coverage that was added to the Affordable Care Act like dental and vision for minors and acceptance of people with pre-existing conditions, etc. has made health insurance even more expensive than ever.
Why you would think that Obamacare was set up to fail by the very architects who designed it.
It certainly looks that way. Under the guise of being friendly to free enterprise, the Democrats constructed a health care product that actually can’t work in the real free market because it is only profitable to insurance companies if the price is too high for consumers to afford.
Here’s an example: pre-existing conditions coverage. Now look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t provide coverage for those with poor health, far from it. However, it’s not insurance. It’s a social solution.
Think about it. If you were allowed to buy an insurance policy for your house after a fire has started, how much would that cost? Or what would happen after you totaled your car and your first call was to an insurance company to buy auto insurance? You couldn’t afford it.
Of course the government could subsidize the price and that would make it affordable for lower income people. But the middle class couldn’t afford it. Maybe only the very wealthy could buy health insurance.
Why the government would have to subsidize most of the country. And that wouldn’t really be a free market solution would it? You see where this was always headed, right?
Why the pretense Democrats?
Let’s not kid ourselves, the health care that Americans want isn’t really “insurance” – it’s an entitlement. Entitlements are NEVER Repealed. (Editorial Note: I’d be less optimistic about such repeals. At any rate, in case you didn’t read this, here is how I think about entitlements.)
Let’s face this head-on like adults. Americans support coverage for pre-existing conditions and subsidies for the poor. They support a minimum level of care for everyone. Maybe they didn’t in 2008, but after several years of Obamacare, we’re certainly headed in that direction.
Just look at the public’s negative reaction to the House Republican Bill that allowed states to opt out of pre-existing conditions. It’s become a subsidy and an entitlement and there’s no going back. That’s why the Republican effort to repeal and replace has failed.
The Pre -2008 healthcare system doesn’t exist anymore and it’s not coming back. The nation has moved on.
It’s time for America to grow up and act like the rest of the developed world and embrace a U.S. version of Universal Health Care.
I confess that I used to sneer at all those countries that had some form of universal health care. I loved the maverick nature of the U.S. health care system with its private health insurance and I basked in the glow of the free market in health care.
But I was wrong and so are you. (Editor’s Note: I wonder who he is talking to.)
I’ve experienced living in a country with a universal health care system (The U.K. NHS), and for all its problems and issues it takes care of its peoples’ basic health needs in a commendable fashion. In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), just named the UK the best healthcare system among the 11 wealthiest nations. I recommend that you take a good look through the report on this study by the American organization, the Commonwealth Fund.
It seems that the U.K. provides the easiest access to primary care and that is the key to the well being of a population. The U.S. finished dead last despite spending an enormous amount on health care.
And by the way, General Practioners’ practices in the UK are privately owned. These GPs are the gatekeepers to the system’s resources that are owned by the government. Docs can work both for the NHS and privately. There is private insurance available, but it’s much less costly than in the U.S.
Also, the top three finishers in the OECD report the UK (#1), Australia (#2) and the Netherlands (#3) all have vastly different approaches to universal care and the Commonwealth Fund analysis argues that there are a lot of ways to make this work that fit the United States.
What universal care does is take the anxiety out of day-to-day medical care. It also delinks employment and health care – a big problem in the U.S. system where you simply can’t take your insurance with you. Furthermore, if you’re an entrepreneur with a tiny business or just buy insurance individually, you generally pay more for your coverage.
You don’t buy your auto insurance or homeowners with a subsidy from your employer so why have your health insurance tied up with your employment?
It’s time that America joins the ranks of the wealthiest nations in the world. It’s the right thing to do for our society, and this recent health care debacle by the Republicans shows that we’re almost there anyway. The universal health care genie is out of the bottle. Let’s do the American thing and make it the best system in the world.