Americans have always hated the idea of a national health care system. Socialized medicine is even harder to choke down because it reeks of government control over an area where at best bureaucracy will make things horribly expensive and at worst can kill us. Most Americans have figured out by now that we don’t have to worry about socialized medicine and certainly not universal coverage. Instead, we were sold a stop gap measure because Democrats could not pull off the public option we all feared. The big difference between Republicans and Democrats on the issue is that Republicans admit that rationing health care is necessary, though they would never call the way America doles out health services “rationing.” Democrats just tell us that Obamacare won’t cover everyone. They would never call it rationing, either, even though rationing health care is the American way.
The Republican Take on Health Services is About Jobs
Why is the Republican Party falling on its face trying to articulate a replacement for our new national health care system? The party wants to sell voters on its plan to make health services affordable, but whenever the topic comes up the issue turns confusing with talk of jobs and what Obamacare will do to small businesses. When it came between a bad jobs report and a worse court ruling that gave the Affordable Care Act the go ahead, last week’s GOP address mixed the two together and focused on jobs.
Republicans already have enough ammunition on the economy to last for years. Repealing Obamacare will remove uncertainty, but it is not going to put millions back to work. The real problem for Republicans is that those common sense approaches they talk about are as elusive as jobs are for the White House.
When John Boehner was pressed about making health insurance affordable on the Sunday morning news show circuit he proved why Barack Obama was so good at selling the health care act. When capitalism intervenes, regulating health services is a problem. Obamacare skirts capitalism where it needs to. When Republicans come up with alternatives they don’t have that option.
Neither Party Admits the Problem with Access to Health Services
Both parties know that health insurance is never going to be affordable any more than spending on more Medicaid is going to heal all of the destitute. The Obama plan covers as many Americans as it can by spreading the costs while hinting at future reductions in the deficit that are laughable given the potential Medicaid pool. Republicans talk about buying health insurance across state lines, of reducing costs in high risk pools and slashing tort risks, all great ideas that have been around for years and have never gone anywhere. Unfortunately, past history has not given us much confidence that these measures will be passed even if Obamacare is discarded.
If Republicans manage to push their plan through Congress they will fall prey to the same charges of establishing a national health care system that have bedeviled Democrats for one simple reason. Without the hammer of government control, states and insurance companies will never fall in line. That’s capitalism at work. Capitalism is the American way, too.
Government Control vs. Rationing Health Care: Rationing is the American Way
We don’t like to admit it, but health services have always been rationed in America. Capitalism demands it. Conservatives gave rationing health care an undeserved bad name in early efforts to shoot down Obamacare. We adopted the argument that a national health care system, rationing health care, and socialized medicine go hand in hand, but we were kidding ourselves. America’s health care system runs on rationing because the affordability issue gives us no choice and it never will, whether we provide health services through the government, the private sector, or a combination of the two. The solution is not to overhaul the system. The solution is to make small changes and fix the economy, because affordability is an economic problem.
Trying to appeal to middle class voters who fear losing their coverage with their jobs using a message about business owners and job creation is a loser. Do Republicans believe most Americans care what one has to do with the other? The message needs to be short, it needs to be simple, and everyone needs to be able to understand it. We can’t do it all now because the economy is in a shambles. The president is the one who put us here. Jobs come first, but in the meantime we are going to do this.
The House should do one simple thing. Enough voting to repeal Obamacare. The GOP should draft and vote on a bill allowing those who lose their jobs to transfer to individual policies with their current insurer at their group rate with no wait period and no pre-existing condition exclusions. We already have HIPAA protections, but they make a mockery of affordability because transferring to state pools is too costly for those without jobs. If the GOP can pull this one off, it will be an incredible coup, the country will benefit, and then we can take the next step.
There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?