Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Healthcare Silliness

Surely, there are many of legitimate questions to be asked about what potential healthcare reforms mean. But the arguments I’m listing below have really begun to grate on me.

1. The Democrats are going to kill grandma

There has been a much hyped provision in one of the bills that covers end-of-life counseling for elderly people who want it. And so this has been taken to mean that in a public option, some doctor will come along at age 75 and tell poor grandma that it’s time to die, and offer her end-of-life counseling instead of surgery.

First, Democrats have a stake in not killing grandma. If the public option does pass, then it will look pretty bad to go to constituents to talk about a program which killed their grandmas. The public program will be voted out of existence by angry constituents real fast if grandmas are being euthanized left and right. That means a public plan will more likely than not, cover that life-saving surgery.

Second, it’s unclear to me that grandma will fare any better under status quo. Unless she has a really good insurance plan, or a pile of cash lying around, she can’t afford certain surgeries unless Medicare (gasp, a government program) helps out.

2. A public plan will ration resources

This has become a trope that conservatives have returned to for decades. The problem for them is that rationing already happens. Millions of people are rationed out of the healthcare system each year because they can’t afford it. Moreover, private companies have been known to do everything they can to wiggle out of providing care. They discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions, terminate coverage for sickly patients, or just decide not to cover a procedure or medication. This sure seems like rationing to me.

Now, if conservatives think that their method of rationing is better, then they should simply stand up and say so. They can say that they’re fine with people who have more resources getting care, and people with fewer getting less care or worse care.

As I said, there is a legitimate debate to be had about healthcare reform. Will it decrease innovation? Will it mean the end of private insurance as we know it in America? I doubt it. But let’s hear people make their case. Just please stop with these two above arguments.

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