September 12, 2009

The Michael Moore Medical Insurance Reform Act

It occurs to me that as unlikely as it might have been that a fellow with Michael Moore's BMI would have nevertheless wound up being the conscience of the health care debate, such has indeed proved to be the case. The two salient points that might survive the Congressional fiasco currently underway are the foci of Moore's movie "SiCKO:" to wit, insurance companies should not be allowed to do business if they systematically exclude people with "preexisting conditions" and they should not be allowed to drop insureds from coverage simply because they get sick, i.e., need the insurance they've been paying thousands of dollars for.

And then Congress ought to fold up the circus tent and move on to the next town.

I watched Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn) on Real Time last night, a very sharp, genuinely liberal Congressman with a quick wit, combative nature and high IQ talk about Congress's missed opportunity. He made the obvious point that Obama gave the game away at the start by deciding to work within the existing medical insurance framework. Once you do that, there's not much to talk about, although Obama keeps talking, as he did Wednesday night. One thing I've learned about Prez O is that you should wait a couple of days after one of his speeches before you gauge your own reaction. He's so good at speaking, at the art of oration itself, that you forget about content. There was virtually no content, other than the Two SiCKO Points, and those are good ones. So pass a bill that does exactly those two things and forget the rest, because the rest (a) will not bring down costs and (b) will not expand coverage in the "revenue neutral" way that Obama says it will. There is no way to provide health insurance to 50 million uninsured Americans through the existing predatory private insurance industry without some political entity, the federal govt. or the states (through Medicaid), going bust-o.

President Obama said at the outset that replacing the private insurance system "would be too disruptive," although he would like a Single Payer system. It's clear O doesn't like disruption; for example, during the speech he assured the Republican blowhards that whatever plan gets passed, no federal money would be provided for abortions. Thus, for some reason he feels compelled to reassure us that women (and probably the neediest of women) who need this Constitutionally protected, perfectly legal procedure can't have it, because it upsets Republicans when women exercise their Constitutional rights. He was also clear that undocumented aliens will receive no benefits for any notional "public option;" since neither Congress nor Obama has any intention of ever dealing with the problem of illegal immigration, this means that uninsured undocumented aliens will continue to use emergency rooms as their primary care physician. This sounds tough and jingoist and winds up being stupid.

I hope, as we nation build in Afghanistan, that we do it right over there from the outset. The billions that we spend there can include a model universal health care system to provide cradle-to-grave free access paid for by taxes. The years when America might have done that have obviously passed, but it's still a good idea.

Meanwhile, the Obama Wall Street reforms seem to be dying a slow death as the overmatched White House does battle with the legal sharks of Manhattan. It's only because they're doing things out of order. Moore's new movie opens in a few weeks and will outline the sweet spots. Thank goodness somene is still working hard on our problems.

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