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Blog of Mass Destruction

37th In The World And Racing To The Bottom

By The Reverend Published: April 1, 2008

John McCain threw a bone to the right the other day over the national health care crisis we are currently facing. McCain's way of facing the crisis? More choices.

The modern conservative movement is really keen on promoting choices. Not real life choices, like reproductive choices, or pharmaceutical choices, but consumer choices. The GOP is always touting the many choices unrestrained capitalism can create for Americans.

Take for example the deregulation of the tele-communications companies. Telco deregulation gave Americans so many more choices, didn't it? And now we pay more for telephone services. However, while we are paying more, we have so many more higher priced choices from which to choose. A bit maddening, I admit, but there's no denying it....we have more choices.

That same 'more consumer choices' methodology is seen in the deregulation of the electricity industry. My understanding is that price restraints will be lifted in 2009. For some reason, I just don't think all those choices we'll be confronted with will result in lower prices. In fact, I'll make a prediction that electricity rates will be the next price gouging scandal. But you see, we'll be free to choose the plan from which we'll be charged higher prices.

In confronting the crisis Americans are facing in health care, John McCain wants to help out. He wants to give us more choices of a product (it isn't) that Americans can't afford right now. Americans still won't be able to afford the non-helpful parasitic health insurance industry's money and paper shuffling new choices....but at least conservatives will be able to point to all these new "choices" while telling Americans they're doing their best to solve the problem.

McCain's recent words...

I will leave it to my opponent to propose returning to the failed, big government mandates of the sixties and seventies to address problems such as the lack of health care insurance for some Americans. I will campaign to make health care more accessible to more Americans with reforms that will bring down costs in the health care industry down without ruining the quality of the world's best medical care. Link

I'll dismiss the partisan stupidity reflected in McCain's first sentence here, for now at least. The assertion that America's health care is the "world's best", however, is simply not true. Overall, France has the "world's best" medical care when cost, access, equality, value, etc. are all taken into consideration. Do we have good medical care in America? Of course. But it's not the "world's best". The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. 37th. I'm sure McCain would agree, we're free to choose to be proud, or not, of our world standing.

How would McCain bring down health care costs while also covering more Americans with parasitic forms of health insurance?

From McCain remarks last year....

"I offer a genuinely conservative vision for health care reform, which preserves the most essential value of American lives - freedom," McCain said at the event, according to a copy of his speech provided by the campaign.

Under the McCain proposal, laws that give employers a tax break when they purchase insurance for employees would be eliminated. Instead, the program would give everyone a flat tax credit of $2,500 for individuals or $5,000 for families to purchase health insurance wherever they choose. Link

First, I do not believe that "freedom", as in the land of the free, is synonomous with consumer choices. Freedom, as written about in our early founding documents, wasn't about freedom to choose Coke or Pepsi. Right off the bat, McCain's framing of the health care crisis is misleading.

More health insurance choices will do nothing, whatsoever, to challenge the crisis we're facing. A family of four with an average risk factor today pays about $12,000 a year for health insurance. If the risk factor is high because of pre-existing conditions then that number jumps exponentially....if, indeed, health insurance is even available. McCain thinks that giving tax credits amounting to less than half of the cost of average family insurance policies is giving freedom of choice "to purchase health insurance wherever they choose".

At the same time McCain wants to eliminate tax breaks for employer provided health care.....thus discouraging and eventually eliminating ANY employer sponsored health coverage altogether. Those of us out there paying a couple hundred dollars a month on an employer sponsored system will be set free, somehow, to pay five to six hundred a month....after all the tax credit rigamole is finished. More freedom, more choices....higher prices.

This doesn't even speak to the higher risk situations. The situations that the parasitic health insurance companies reject with malice. A high risk individual or family will also have freedom to choose, in a way. They can choose to spend all their income on health insurance options thus starving themselves to death and eliminating the need for any more health care.....or they can choose to go without insurance altogether, which is where they are right now. But see, even these folks would have choices. They would be exercising what McCain calls "freedom".

What's telling to me about the freedom to choose baloney, always offered up by conservatives, is that their consumer choice schemes always have some tax credit rainbow attached, as in McCain's health care scheme. It makes me think that all these choices-and-freedom-expressing schemes could be interpreted as only more tax breaks for those who are already know.....those few who CAN afford health insurance.

That's probably because I'm so prone to believing in conspiracy theories, huh?



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