Driving a Stake Through the Heart of Health Care Reform

Brace yourself. The opponents of health care reform are about to launch a million-dollar ad campaign targeting 33 states that have Democratic representatives in Congress. They have not given me a preview of the ads but I can imagine what they’ll say. I’m sure you can, too.

They’re likely to trot out that old chestnut about “bureaucrats” coming between you and your doctor. Really? Bureaucrats? You mean like the hordes of corporate paper pushers inhabiting the insurance industry’s offices? You don’t think they come between you and your doctor? Who do you think stamps DENIED on those claim forms?health

You must have heard by now that reforming American health insurance will add trillions to the deficit. You can bet you’ll be hearing it again. And what about the scary warning that a government-run option will mean the end of that great private plan you have through your employer or business? A neighbor tipped me off yesterday that buried among the pages of the “Obama plan” is a provision explicitly banning employer-provided health insurance. And even if that bizarre idea isn’t included in the barrage of radio ads, you’re sure to learn that a government run health insurance program would drive private insurers out of the market and lead to a “federal takeover.”

It’s all part of a propaganda campaign that some Republicans say will “drive a stake through the heart” of the President’s hope for health care reform. They’ve been telling each other that this will be “Obama’s Waterloo” and predicting “it will break him.”

Sigh!

Isn’t it a shame that you can get in trouble for claiming your product whitens teeth when it doesn’t, yet you can tell any lie you like with impunity in a political ad?

So when your neighbor whispers these charges in your ear, keep your temper. With the barrage of falsehoods soon to be unleashed by special interests eager to protect their profits, it won’t be your neighbor’s fault if he or she is confused. To help you keep your sanity, here are a couple of talking points to rebut these charges.

First, President Obama has said repeatedly that he will not sign into law any legislation unless it includes the means of paying for its provisions. Any trillions that get spent will come from trillions saved through badly needed efficiencies and, probably, through some form of taxation. And the President promised that any tax revenue wouldn’t come from “the middle class.”

If you and your spouse make a million dollars a year or more, you might have a legitimate complaint because it’s your income that’s being eyed. And if you have one of those “Cadillac” health plans, that might be taxed under one of the proposals. If that happens, my heart bleeds for you. It must be real tough living on a measly million a year. But you might just have to bite the bullet so those 50 million uninsured Americans don’t have to crawl into a corner and die.

As for the bit about a government option killing employer plans, there’s news today that an independent analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows it would do no such thing. What it would really do is provide a viable alternative to the private plans, and keep the health insurance companies from gouging clients (as they do now).

And the part of the bill that explicitly outlaws employer provided health insurance? That exists only in the fertile imagination of some Republican rumor monger. I’m sure you’ve met plenty of those.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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