Today's battle is epitomized by this anecdote from an article in the Washington Post. At a health care town hall meeting in South Carolina: "a man stood up and told Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) to "keep your government hands off my Medicare".' The Congressman tried to explain that Medicare is a government program, but heckler would not listen.
That would be funny if it wasn't so sad, but it illustrates how successful the anti-insurance reform right wing has been in confusing their followers.
The argument isn't really about health care reform at all. No matter what Washington does in the coming weeks, the kind of health care people get in this country won't change. If it was about health care reform, the AMA wouldn't be endorsing it because that would call for restructuring of physician and hospital incomes to international levels.
The Republican counter-budget as written by Paul Ryan R, Wisconsin contains their proposals, touted as the way to avoid "socialism" and a "government takeover of health care". Here they are:
1. Significantly reduce benefits to anybody under 55 at the time of passage, and then privatize social security.
2. Replace Medicare with a system of vouchers for buying private health insurance.
Why in God's name would I want to trade the Medicare I now have and which allows me to see primary care doctors for $10 a visit, specialist for $35 and hospital costs with a reasonable deductible for a voucher to get back into private insurance that never allowed me to see a doctor at all? That is insanity.
Because I live in a strongly Republican area, my column in the local newspaper this week questions the argument that government is ineffective as follows:
Are you against a public option in health care because "government can't do anything right"? If so, try this:
Walk into a senior citizen center and say, "Everybody who has Medicare and wishes they didn't, raise your hand." You'll think everybody in there is an amputee.
Now go to a VA hospital and say, "I think the government ought to get out of the health care business. Raise your hand if you'll sign this petition to stop funding the Veteran's Administration." The only hand you're likely to see is some veteran's just before it hits your nose.
Next, go to the Division of Family Services and say, "If you have Medicaid and wish you didn't, sign here." They'll laugh you out of the place.
Don't like any of those tests? Try this one. Go to a library and ask for signatures on a petition to quit spending tax dollars on libraries, or ask the parents and teachers at any school to join your protest against using tax dollars to support education. Any takers? Not likely.
Here's a question for YOU to answer. Be honest, now. Do you think tax dollars should be used for those purposes listed above?