Imagine that you are left to decide if it would be a good thing to gift wrap a grenade, place a nice bow around the pin and place it on the activities table in a kindergarten class; just to see what the children will do with it. Pretty easy decision to make for any prudent, sane person with a vision for the bigger picture and the consequences that loom. Basically that is what Republican Senator Olympia Snowe was faced with when she cast her Finance Committee vote on Healthcare Reform with the 13 democrats that thought this was a good (enough) idea? Hyperbole? Not at all, considering that the Baucus bill, with Ms. Snowe’s approval is now on its way for a showdown on the Senate floor where anything goes amongst a group of adult children not known for their fiscal foresight or concern with long range (outside of their next election cycle) real life ramifications. Even after handwringing, negotiations, and White House prodding the bill is still a pig, albeit a pig with lipstick and a nice bow.
Voters are smarter than this though and Rasmussen polling data indicates that a majority of Americans haven’t wanted this healthcare overhaul legislation since early summer when the onerous and inconvenient details of such action began to surface.
“Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it,” Snowe remarked after casting her vote. “But when history calls, history calls.” What? Memo to Ms. Snowe, you will not be remembered in history as brave but as an easy mark for an opposition party whose principles are light years removed from the party with which you caucus. History was not calling you.
You would think that she would have learned from the disastrous history of various states enacting their own version of healthcare reform, especially her own. Dirigo Health was a political plum. The enacted legislation looked great on paper when it was introduced but has never performed fiscally, administratively, or operationally as it did in theory; not surprising Also not surprising is who loses when this happens? As always when politics go awry, the taxpayers do; emphasis on ‘payer’.
If this illustration doesn’t work for you, try Massachusetts where the 2006 Romney reform plans haven’t worked out for the middle class exactly as they planned either. And then there were the budget busting and misdirected health care experiments in Oregon, Tennessee and Hawaii. Oregon Health Plan, TennCare, and Keiki Care were abysmal failures in practice because in each case they didn’t cover the people they were suppose to target and they bloated the states’ deficits to such a degree that two out of three of these state experiments were abandoned.
Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Oregon, and Hawaii have been there, done that. These are real life test tube illustrations of failed beta tests. Apparently this has been lost on Washington politicians where federal administrators seem bent on continuing to amass a resume of failure to join MediCare, Medicaid, Social Security and virtually every other entitlement they have ever undertaken.
Is there a solution? Sure. We’ve got some pretty smart people in this country; some non-politicians who have actually run businesses, made and lost fortunes, know a pitfall when they see one, don’t have an ideological agenda or worry about getting reelected, and believe in a culture of personal responsibility versus living in a nanny state. Tort reform, interstate policy competition, reduced state mandates, abolishment of pre-existing condition restrictions, expanded HSA’s, etc. should all be on the table and served as the main course.
If government would remove some of the market restraints they created, do a better job of regulating frivolous litigation, and provide the needed oversight to healthy competition it would be an immense step toward meaningful healthcare access reform and cost containment. In this way the world’s best healthcare system along with its providers, research and development mechanisms won’t be trashed for the worthy purpose of providing its benefits to a nominal 5-7% of Americans that currently are uninsured.
I agree. Our individual healthcare costs are high. But what makes anyone think that they will be less expensive and the product will be better if we simply join together and send the government our premium to include those those that can’t afford it. I’m having trouble connecting those dots.
Senator Snowe may have provided political cover for the Blue Dog Democrats and enabled the talking heads to use the hollow phrase bipartisan legislation; but the end result is still a pig with lipstick.
Congress needs to start afresh and make this a true bipartisan effort, not just a Snowe job.
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