Sandra and I visited my sister Elizabeth and her husband Wendell at their winter home in New Port Richey, Florida, yesterday, and became involved in a heated discussion about the health care reform bill being debated in the Senate. Sandra and Elizabeth, who are both die-hard liberals, were in favor of the bill. My nephew Andrew and his wife Renee, who vote Republican, were opposed. As you might expect, it was a rather noisy conversation, but not very enlightening.
With the blizzard of information – and disinformation – coming from the media, “facts” are easy to come by. The problem is that the “facts” cited by one side are often different from those cited by the other. And I have to admit I can no longer separate fact from fiction.
My general impression is that the bill is a giveaway to the health insurance industry, forcing millions of people to buy private insurance without effectively controlling increases in premiums, but it will probably provide some coverage to Americans who can’t afford, or can’t get, insurance now. And it might put an end to some of the worst abuses that you’ve heard about – the “pre-existing condition” scams, for example. As for curbing health care costs, well, I’ll have to be convinced. When the Republicans insist the bill’s bottom line is $2.5 trillion and the Democrats cite a figure of about $850 billion, numerically challenged observers like me can only shake our heads and throw up our hands.
I am also pretty sure that, if the bill becomes law, I will lose some of the benefits I enjoy under Medicare Advantage, but if I don’t have to give up too much, I won’t complain. Those uninsured families need help more than I do.
One of the things that upset Renee was a recent recommendation by a government task force that such preventive procedures as mammograms are unnecessary for younger women. From what I gathered, Renee thinks the policy is included in the health care bill and indicates preventive health care procedures would be “rationed.”
I find the task force’s recommendations, especially at this critical time, extremely suspicious. They give the impression that health insurance reform would come at the price of “rationing” care. Although Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has rejected the recommendations, the harm has been done. As evidenced by Renee’s concern, the task force has succeeded in giving opponents of health care reform some potent ammunition.
I am confident the Obama Administration would never skimp on preventive procedures. Increasing preventive care is one of the President’s pet projects. But you would have a hard time convincing Renee of that.
So my suspicion is that members of the Preventive Services Task Force, appointed during the Bush presidency to serve four-year terms, might be deliberately trying to sabotage health care reform and embarrass the new President. Judging from the “dirty tricks” that have been in evidence during the long and acrimonious health care “debate,” I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the reason for such incendiary recommendations at this time.