Show Me The Money

The unfortunate thing about the health reform “debate” being stymied and propagandized is that we all miss out on valuable information, from both sides, that would allow us to come to well-informed opinions.

For example, rather than talk about “death panels”, why are we not hearing more about paying for reform. I suspect the price tag is a major cause of concern for opponents of Obama’s ideas, a concern that many democrats in Congress have. The fact of the matter is that we are running huge deficits and the cost of reform is nearing $1 trillion.

It is unfortunate that Obama inherited the fiscal and economic mess that he did, but it should not excuse him and the Congress from making sure that every dollar spent on health care is accounted for in the budget. Again, I suspect this is the ultimate issue and maybe why the public option does not seem so popular.

A health care system with a public option would be a government administered program akin to Medicare, funded by taxpayers. It would not entail having to go to government run hospitals, but simply that doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc., bill the government and no one else. Thus, you can see why the question of how the government funds this would be so critical. Yet, it hardly gets talked about.

The benefit of having a public option (of which there are various types) seems obvious to me: competition between private insurers and with the public system, which will decrease costs in the short-term and REALLY decrease them in the future. Plus, reform will also include a provision prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Some of the ways that have been proposed to get the requisite funds are: a tax on individuals making more than $250,000 and families making over $350,000 (Obama), caps on medical malpractice claims (which Obama is not supporting), taxing some employer contributions to health insurance, taxing things like sodas, and eliminating other tax-loopholes.

I have no problem with the tax on the rich (not wealthy, as Chris Rock reminds us; explicit language on that clip), but that is easy for me to say since I do not fall in that category. Taxing some of the employer contributions seems like a good idea to me, as well, because it is apparently the must substantive tax break in our system, and cost the U.S. $226 billion in revenue last year.

The point is that there are legitimate debates to be had on health care reform and we need to be hearing about them, not about those small pockets of dissenters and ex-governors who have nothing substantive to contribute, and do not know what they are talking about.

What do you think?


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