Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is This Really All They Can Come Up With?

The Heritage Foundation has produced a "fact sheet" to summarize why they oppose Obama's health care reform. After reading it, I take heart: Is this really all the mighty Heritage Foundation could muster? It is so easy to debunk their assertions, that I feel like it's not even a fair fight. Let's begin...
The Heritage Foundation has the following objections to the health care reform plan that is slowly emerging from Congress:

It Undermines Parental Authority
This is a such a fuzzy accusation that it is impossible to refute. The so-called fact sheet does nothing to enlighten us as to what exactly "undermines parental authority" and a search of the bill for the word parent does not return any hits that show how this statement is true.

It Puts Federal Bureaucrats in Control of Health Care Decisions
For the last time, this is not true. Even if it were true, it would put "federal bureaucrats" in control of health decisions only for those people who would opt into the public option. As things stand, we are not even sure (unfortunately) that a public option is going to be a part of any bill produced by Congress. Those who prefer to keep their health insurance would have the choice to continue to let INSURANCE BUREAUCRATS make health care decisions for them. (And I am still waiting for a libertarian or a conservative to explain to me how decisions made by a private bureaucrat are better than those made by any other bureaucrats.)

It Shackles Families with Unknown Costs
Under this heading, Heritage makes the following assertion: "President Obama promised American families that under his health plan the average family would save $2,500. But independent analysis shows that less than 11 percent of American families would actually see that level of savings with the reforms proposed by the Administration." (Emphasis added.)

The only independent analysis that I know of to make that assertion is the Lewin Group. How independent is the Lewin Group? Well, not so much, it turns out. NPR reported that "the Lewin Group, [is] a number-crunching consulting group owned by Ingenix, which is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group." [NPR, All Things Considered, 6/10/09]

This is the same Lewin Group according to which "103 million people would
choose a public health insurance option," killing the health insurance industry as we know it. But the estimates of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office paint a much different picture (PDF), so a grain of salt is needed when considering anything coming from the Lewin Group.

Additionally, the Heritage Foundation "fact sheet" tells people that they should be concerned about health care reform for the following reasons:

It Dumps Families into a Government-Run Health Plan
As a matter of fact, it does not. People would have a choice to keep their existing private coverage, and the Lewin Group's assumption that the proposed health care legislation would cause over 100 million people to choose a public health option appears to have been greatly exaggerated (see previous point.)

It Makes Bureaucrats Moral Decision-makers
According to the Heritage Foundation, "the Obama health agenda would hand the moral compass over to anonymous bureaucrats to decide what questionable health benefits the government plan will cover. Taxpayer-funded abortions are just one of many potential problems."

What a load of bull. All you need to do is watch Sicko, read Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business--and Bad Medicine, or follow this link (and all the other links you find once you get there) to realize that the danger that the risk of "the government deciding what questionable health benefits the government plan will cover" may be greatly overstated compared to the non-questionable benefits that health insurance board routinely decide to deny.

As for the risk that taxpayer-funded abortion may be allowed, I have six words for you: "taxpayer-funded illegal wars" and "Hyde Amendment". Conservatives don't seem to ever have a problem with the former, while conveniently forgetting that the latter bans public funds from being used to pay for abortions, as has been the case for the last 32 years.

It Disregards Conscience Options for Patients and Providers
How? Again, the Heritage Foundation stays conveniently fuzzy on this issue. They throw catchwords around, and hide their hand.

They do say this about this subject:
Families need to be able to vote with their feet when it comes to abortion and other sensitive health care issues. They need the freedom to choose doctors and health plans that reflect their values. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals need protections of their right of conscience so they can practice according to their convictions respecting life. Religious doctors, nurses, and hospitals are the front lines in providing the care families need, particularly in low-income and rural areas.
If the market is truly as wonderful as libertarian think-tanks like Cato and conservative ones like the Heritage Foundation tell us, can you not envision a world in which all godless, abortion-supporting and abortion-seeking liberals will flock to the public option, and where Christocrats and free-market supporters will flock to the many health insurance plans that will no doubt spring up, full of all the exclusions for stem-cell research, no abortion coverage, and a "no blood transfusion" provision that evangelicals and Jehova's Witnesses love?

Conservatives and god-fearing people out there, let's make a deal: as long as I have to pay for your kids' public education (which you despise), even though I have no kids of my own, and as long as I have to pay for the wars you endorse, even though I loathe them, you will have to pay for elective abortions. After all, why should the concern that "[f]amilies need to be able to vote with their feet when it comes to abortion and other sensitive health care issues" be valid only as far as abortion goes, and not for those ideas that progressive taxpayers are burdened with by the likes of you?

There is one, at last, one thing that I agree with in the Heritage Foundation's "fact sheet". We should "demand sound financing" as they suggest. That is a responsible, adult request. I do wish, though, that we could demand sound financing for military enterprises, for bailing out financial institutions, and for all those things that many conservatives are most often reliably silent about. You might even say that they really don't give a hoot about sound financing, except when it threatens their interests.

No comments:

Copyright 2004-2012