I am so tired of hearing the phrase "government take-over of health care." How many times do people have to be corrected? Or maybe they don't want to hear the truth.
NONE of the proposals for health insurance reform amounts to a government take-over. What they're calling the Exchange or Gateway is a web-based marketplace where all insurers -- all PRIVATE insurers, plus a public alternative if one is offered -- will, for lack of a better word, "advertise" their offerings so consumers can see what plans are available, what they cover, and what they cost. If you've ever tried shopping for health insurance, you know that it's almost impossible to get quotes and find out what all of your options are. The Exchange would allow you to do that.
No government take-over. Just a marketplace.
And the public option would be just that -- an option. There would be all the private insurance plans, and alongside them would be a publicly run plan. Nobody would have to sign up for it. Indeed, President Obama last week said only the uninsured would be eligible for it. Nobody would HAVE to select it -- it would simply be a choice. If you think it's a bad idea, then leave it alone, choose a private plan.
But again, no government take-over. Just an option.
I'm tired of explaining this over and over again, but people don't believe it because they've been sold such hooey by people they're supposed to be able to trust -- elected officials who publicly accuse the President of the United States of lying when it's they who are lying. Elected officials who take hundreds of thousands of dollars from the health care industry in exchange for which they chant the mantra "government take-over, government take-over."
And I'm so very sad that it seems to be working. The public option is all but dead. It can't pass the Senate without Senator Kennedy's vote, and without every other Democrat. And there are plenty of scared Democrats -- scared because people are believing the lies, "government take-over, government take-over."
Don't fool yourself into thinking for one minute that government doesn't already regulate insurance. Individual plans and group insurance plans that are not what's called "self-funded" -- which means the vast majority of plans in the United States -- are regulated by state law. The only difference here is that the regulations being discussed in Congress would be federal instead of state. What would those regulations do? Things even the staunchest of Republicans can't oppose -- elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions, lifetime caps, and the ability of insurers to cancel policies when a person gets sick based on some made-up nonsense about a previously undisclosed pre-existing condition, like the nurse who testified before Congress that she got cancer and her insurance was canceled because of a previously undisclosed case of acne. Yes, acne.
I'm sad that the lies have had their intended effect of killing a public option. Why does a public option matter so much? In the four years since Advocacy for Patients was founded, our insurance has gone up more than 100%. Yup, more than 100%. What makes anybody think these runaway prices are going to end if the insurance companies face no competition? What incentive will there be to lower the cost of premiums? Because I'll tell you where we're going without a public option -- everybody will be required to have insurance, but insurance will continue to cost $1000 per person per month, as it does for our group plan, making it impossible for us to even consider hiring more staff. This will be a catastrophe, with families being fined for not having insurance when there is no affordable insurance for them to buy.
And so I'm scared. The special interests are winning the day. They are eliminating competition, and so doing nothing to control premium prices. They are now so focused on making sure no illegal immigrant gets a penny's help, and no abortion gets a penny's subsidy, that they have taken their eye off the ball and forgotten that the goal was to provide universal, affordable, portable, and comprehensive insurance for everyone. A disgusting outburst from a member of Congress and the Senate Finance Committee spends days crafting provisions to make sure the new system is airtight -- do we really think it's more important to make sure illegal immigrants are shut out than it is to make sure that we get what we need?
I've been saying the same thing over and over. I write about health care reform in our e-newsletter, correcting the outright lies, and people actually unsubscribe at a rate higher than when I write about anything else. People don't want to hear the truth. Or they assume I'm the one who's lying -- after all, would an elected official really lie to them? I suppose, according to at least one member of Congress, only the President is capable of lying, eh?
I'm tired of having to say the same things over and over. I'm very sad that people are buying into the complete fictions that are being put out there. And I'm scared to death of what happens when the lies drive the outcome and we get either a lousy bill or nothing at all. A lousy bill that people will blame on the President, on those who advocated for real change, on people like me.
I hope these blog posts are archived for a long time. I don't want to have to say I told you so, but it looks like too many of you aren't leaving me much of a choice. Jennifer