The most important issue to me is health care. When liberals denounce the Iraq occupation, and demand that our troops be brought home, I nod in agreement.
But when Gov. Gregoire extends WA Basic Health to cover more people, or when presidential candidates talk about just how they’ll cover the 45 million uninsured, I pay attention. It’s not that I don’t care about the war, or think it’s less important. I don’t. But the inequality of our health care “system” has been a war in and of itself. It’s a war that has cost our government billions, has put millions of Americans needlessly into debt, and has caused angst and heartache at the kitchen tables of so many.
It’s between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. How are their health care plans different?
Both plans require that private insurers offer policies to everyone, regardless of medical history. Both also allow people to buy into government-offered insurance instead.
And both plans seek to make insurance affordable to lower-income Americans. The Clinton plan is, however, more explicit about affordability, promising to limit insurance costs as a percentage of family income. And it also seems to include more funds for subsidies.
But the big difference is mandates: the Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.
But what’s wrong with Obama’s plan?
Mr. Obama claims that people will buy insurance if it becomes affordable. Unfortunately, the evidence says otherwise.
After all, we already have programs that make health insurance free or very cheap to many low-income Americans, without requiring that they sign up. And many of those eligible fail, for whatever reason, to enroll.
An Obama-type plan would also face the problem of healthy people who decide to take their chances or don’t sign up until they develop medical problems, thereby raising premiums for everyone else.
Every person needs health care, and mandating it is the only way to get it done. What Obama is offering is a system that is signifigantly flawed, right out of the gate.
But while it’s easy to see how the Clinton plan could end up being eviscerated, it’s hard to see how the hole in the Obama plan can be repaired. Why? Because Mr. Obama’s campaigning on the health care issue has sabotaged his own prospects.
You see, the Obama campaign has demonized the idea of mandates — most recently in a scare-tactics mailer sent to voters that bears a striking resemblance to the “Harry and Louise” ads run by the insurance lobby in 1993, ads that helped undermine our last chance at getting universal health care.
Obama’s political sensibility is so fucked up that I bet he doesn’t understand the nature of the health care debate. It is going to be a knock down, drag out fight, and if Obama’s health care plan isn’t ready to go in Day 1, then he’s going to get hosed.