Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Senator Graham's Deceit on Health Care

While I generally like much of what Senator Lindsay Graham has to say, I was rather disappointed in his comment on ABC's This Week concerning the "public option" in any health care reform bill. While much debate is necessary, the country can do without truly disingenuous and ideological statements like this.

Graham criticized a proposed system where "the bureaucrat sits between the doctor and the patient" and "you'll wait longer to get treated and you'll get the treatment the government decides for you, not your doctor." How that is any different from a system where "the insurance adjuster or HMO executive or financial manager sits between you and your doctor"? How is that different from "the insurance company or HMO deciding what treatment you get and not your doctor"? How is that different from the current system where I wait seven weeks to see a specialists and a colleague waits a year for an MRI and another for the necessary back surgery?

Clearly, his opposition to the "public option" has validity, but his comments are simply dishonest, and that sort of ideological use of sound-bites doesn't contribute to the discussion. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Senator Graham's comments is that he has government-sponsored insurance. Is he having problems with bureaucrats (namely himself) getting between him and his doctor? Is he having his care rationed? Is he letting the government decide which of his treatments are covered? The FEHBP preserves the private sector by allowing providers to bid to a pool of nine million employees, including Congress. Satisfaction with the plan is extremely high - Senator Graham certainly isn't pushing to change his plan.

I hope the Senator will consider revisiting his position on the public option, and seek to build a comprehensive understanding of the issue. He might also consider the reality that polls show 70 - 75% of Americans support the "option" of a government plan, and those statistics include Republicans. Therefore, in the spirit of a democratic republic, I am opposed to Congress refusing to give voters "an option." That doesn't mean people will have to choose it or will want to. But fearing the giving of a choice to voters shows a real lack of faith in the American people.

That said, I am not in favor of a public plan, but I think Senator Graham and the Republicans are missing a real opportunity to offer a comprehensive plan that legally "preserves" the private sector control of providing health care and insurance. This could be found in the bi-partisan Wyden-Bennett Plan, also known as The Healthy Americans Act (HAA). It is, in many ways, an extension of the FEHBP to all Americans where as many as 300 providers bid to serve a pool of 300 million Americans, and people purchase as much or as little as they need. It is a good plan, it resembles all the best parts of the American system, and it blends in the positive qualities of systems such as Switzerland or France.

If nothing else, I hope Senator Graham will answer the questions about his own health insurance and refrain from truly disingenuous and ideological malarky when discussing the issue - or just refrain from talking about it at all. I'd rather he be silent than actively deceiving people.


Daughter of Eve said...

I've never heard of Senator Graham before, and I don't know anything about him. But I don't follow your logic about the health care debate. I still think you're not considering all of the sides in the right way...


mmazenko said...

Interesting - what is "the right way"?

Daughter of Eve said...

You have to look at all of the factors. What do you see in Europe? I don't know much, but I know that they do not have the freedom that we do. If the government is in charge, then there is no competition, and they can give you whatever quality they want. Will you be paying the hospitals? Because if you aren't, then they will want to take care of you as cheaply as possible, and that will not be good at all. It seems that if the government tries to take charge, well, that just doesn't turn out well. Look at communism. Now I'm not saying anything like "People who think this way like communists" at all!! I'm just saying look at what's happened before, and learn from mistakes. Don't repeat them.


mmazenko said...

Actually, Europe has a lot more freedom than you might think - and the health care in most of those countries outperforms America's on practically every measurable issue. The same holds true for Asia - and having lived in Taiwan for five years I can tell you of many positive experiences with their national system.

That said, I am not arguing for Medicare for all - but for the same system that our Congress and nine-million federal employees have. If you do the research, you will find that all these people have government-sponsored health insurance and it works as well as any in the private sector - because it uses the private sector. If it can work for all those people, why wouldn't it work for the rest of us?

Additionally, you might consider the health care offered to all our military - it's run by the government and it outperforms the private system (though I will concede you can find stories of problems with veterans care - but keep in mind you can find as many, and more, horror stories from the private care system).

Don't be too quick to assume the government-run programs will "not turn out well." For two-hundred years, the USA has functioned very effectively with many exceptional government programs - the military, NASA, the CDC, the NIH, clean water, interstate highways, public universities that are the envy of the world, the GI Bill, the courts, etc.

Keep in mind how many times in crisis around the world, that all the nations look to the United States government to solve the problem - and we do, time and time again.