Saturday, September 12, 2009

Health care reform "debate" is laregly over

In his most recent speech to Congress pushing his vision of socialized medical care for the United States, President Obama said the time for debate is over, and the time for action is now. Now, it seems to be there's still quite a bit of difference of opinion over what health care "reform" should constitute, and I would personally contend that rash action without consensus is probably worse than no action at all, but on one point at least I can agree with a socialist leader: there's not much left to debate health care reform.

Let's look at the largely undisputed facts. Health care in the US is expensive, painful, and getting worse. Lack of consumer protections in the insurance industry have allowed the process to become painful even for people "fully" covered. Tying insurance tax incentives and group plans to employment has made it difficult and painful to have private insurance, and stifled competition. Medical liability laws have made health care very expensive, with much of the expense going to lawyers and ambitious plaintiffs. Medicare is bankrupting medical practitioners, while simultaneously creating a massive unfunded liability to the country which is predicted to eventually surpass Social Security as the largest financial debacle the country has ever created. There are some very strong arguments for reform, and fixing some of the massive problems which everyone can agree on.

On the other hand, there are some bright spots. America leads the world in medical research, both in procedures and pharmaceuticals. You can generally get care reasonably quickly, as compared to some countries where multi-month wait times are common. Emergency rooms are only packed in areas with large populations of illegal immigrants, and solving the latter problem would help a lot with the former problem. Doctors are still paid well, and medical professions still attract some of the best, most competent people as a result. So there are some bright spots with health care in the US, and whatever the government decides to do, they should endeavor to preserve as many of the good points as possible.

Now let's look at the "debate". Republicans have been the minority voice with their ideas, largely because of the Democrat majority and huge liberal media bias, but they have a few points/ideas. Among them are reducing medical liability to keep costs down, allowing cross-state insurance shopping for more competition, and developing some sort of non-profit insurance program to help provide coverage for people who cannot get insurance through an employer. They have also talked about reforming Medicare to reduce overhead costs and limit long-term costs for the taxpayers. All of these are good ideas, and although they don't address all the problems, they also don't damage any of the good aspects of the current system.

The Democrats, on the other hand, want to go an entirely new direction, and nationalize health care entirely. Essentially, the Democrat plan (at least the most popular version expressed) would replace all private insurance with an expanded version of Medicare, which would cover everyone in the country, regardless of income, job status, legally, conditions, or any other factors. This essentially would destroy all the bright spots of the current system, while aggravating most, if not all, of the problems. All of this is irrelevant for the Democrats, though; it's part of their long-term agenda to socialize as much of the country as possible, and any medical reform which does not move in that direction is unacceptable to a large sect of the Democrats.

What is amazing to me, though, is that for everything I have listed above, there is virtually no debate. Nobody on the Democrats side has debated that any of the Republican proposals would be good for the US; in fact, some Democrats favor the reforms (in concept). Similarly, nobody on the Democrats has argued that any of their proposals do anything to solve any of the problems I listed, or even not make them worse; there's a tacit acknowledgement that socializing medical care is worth the admitted degradation in services and increases in cost. In essence, there's no debate on either side about any of the facts or proposals; there are just real, legitimate philosophical differences between the two parties and their ideal versions of health care in the US.

So indeed, the time for debate might be over. The US people need to decide if they want socialized medical care, and vote in/out their "representatives" as appropriate. The Democrats need to decide how much sacrificing the principles of democracy, and acting against the interests of the people and the country, is acceptable to push their agenda. Each Republican in Congress needs to decide if they can be bribed with incentives and pork to compromise their principles and get on board for the Democrat's historic push to reform the US to match Obama's socialist vision. There's really nothing left to debate; it is now simply a matter of which group will be stronger, the would-be leaders of Obama's new socialist US, or the few people left defending democracy and freedom.


  1. This is a great summary of the situation. It's sad that the time for debate is over. It seems to me there are better ways to get all of the good things that overhaul supporters want.

    I am disillusioned with the Democrats because of this. Obama goes around saying the overhaul wouldn't affect existing plans/policies, even though the text of the bill clearly says it would outlaw all individual policies and all policies that don't have certain characteristics.

  2. Like CJ says here, this is a great summary. Also, as CJ says, the Dems are using reform that is needed as a straw man for a complete takeover. Everyone would be affected, me, you and CJ and that's the crux.