Allow me to preface this by saying that it is not an endorsement of Obamacare. I do not pretend to know if that it is a good idea or bad. What I do know is it is a sin that in a country as rich as America, there are well over 50 million people who do not have healthcare at all. I know it is a sin that people are forced to choose between food and medicine. And to all of the GOP apologists, yes that happens every day. I know people who have been forced into that choice. Yet despite these conditions, we saw a brief glimpse last night into the nightmare vision the GOP has for "solving" this horrific problem.
At the third Republican debate there were two telling moments that should frighten Americans heading into 2012. And yes, I am trying to scare people because they should be very afraid. Rational fear is a necessary defense mechanism for survival. The first moment occurred when Mitt Romney was answering a question about lowering healthcare costs. Here was his honest answer:
And I agree with almost everything you said, Herman, but the reason health care is so expensive, I think you hit the nail on head. You said it's not just because of insurance, it's because of the cost of providing care. And one reason for that is the person who receives care in America generally doesn't care how much it costs, because once they've paid their deductible, it's free. And the provider, the more they do, the more they get paid. We have something that's not working like a market. It's working like a government utility. And so what we have to do is make sure that individuals have a concern and care about how much something costs. And for that to happen, health savings accounts. Give people a stake in what the cost of insurance is going to be, what the cost of it is going to be. Co-insurance, where people pay a share of the bill, that makes a difference.
Let's break down the fundamentals for how the GOP views your healthcare, or lack thereof. First of all, it is their opinion that the person receiving the care doesn't care how much it costs. Once again, the GOP victimizing the victims. He paints the American people with a broad brush here and also dismisses the deductible as not being a big deal. I know people who refuse to see a doctor because their deductible is so high! It is again this out of touch with the plight of the common man mentality.
The second point is that they believe medicine should be run like a market, or a business. Considering the complete lack of ethics amongst for-profits in this country, that should be an equally frightening prospect for Americans. But the truly scary part comes right after that. This is where Romney tips the hands of the GOP regarding healthcare. When he says people should have a stake in what the costs of service are, what he is saying is that healthcare needs to be reduced to one of your monthly bills to consider. So instead of your health determining your care, the GOP vision is your wallet should. Never mind that most doctors would admit that preventative care is often the best and would save more money in the long run. Never mind that seeing your doctor when a small problem develops usually can help prevent larger problems. Forget all that. The GOP vision is you sitting at your kitchen table and trying to decide if you should see a doctor for that lump you think you feel, or if you should pay the electric bill. They refer to this as "having skin in the game." I just didn't realize until last night that they were being literal.
We saw something similar after the disastrous earthquake and hurricanes recently. The callous GOP mantra of any aid must be offset with spending cuts allowed for a discussion about why the individual homeowner should have had insurance. The heartless reasoning was stated as a family having to decide that year to fix their roof instead of going to Disneyland that year. And right there is the complete disconnect the GOP has to the average American. Because their base and the people they protect are the super rich, they just cannot fathom that the choice is not between a roof and Disneyland. It is between a roof and food. It is between visiting the doctor and keeping the heat on for the winter. It is between fixing the damage from a hurricane and making sure your mother has her medication. To them, the choices are always between something frivolous and something serious as opposed to a choice between two serious matters.
The last thing from the Romney quote is the notion of co-insurance. Basically in the GOP vision, the problem with healthcare is not absurd prices for prescription drugs. The problem is not in the insurance companies that gouge citizens and then try to screw them when a claim is made. It is not about people who cannot get coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Nope. They are saying it is basically all your fault. You don't care about the cost because you paid your deductible! So the solution is to make you actually be responsible for part of the bill itself so you can choose to see a doctor less often. Wow. That is a hell of a healthcare plan folks and it should scare everyone.