Thursday, May 21, 2009

Republican "health care plan": Massive Fail

by -- Badtux the Health Care Penguin
Well, looks like the good ole' John McInsane Health Care Plan that I so justly derided back in October 2008 is back, as the brand-spankin' new GOP Health Plan. As is usual for GOP proposals, it is a huge honkin' tax increase for the middle class disguised as a "tax cut" -- it eliminates the tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, and replaces it with a laughably inadequate tax credit that provides less than *HALF* of the cost of the average family health insurance policy. It also adds some cool pork for Republican donors, such as privatizing Medicaid (more profit for insurance companies! Yum!), auto-enrollment in insurance at the emergency room (yay, more customers for the insurance companies!), limit malpractice lawsuits against bad doctors... and all while doing nothing, nada, zip, zilcho, for the problem of out-of-control health care costs in America.
The United States is spending 17% of its GDP on health care. France is spending 12% of its GDP on health care, or 30% less than the United States. Yet France surpasses the U.S. on *all* measures of health care -- outcomes measures (life span, cancer survival rates, etc.), waiting periods for treatment, number of doctors per thousand population, number of hospital beds per thousand population, access to advanced medical treatments (only 66% of Americans have *any* access to advanced medical treatments -- the other 33% of Americans have no insurance or are too underinsured to have access to advanced medical treatments), access to advanced medical technology... and they do that all for less money than the U.S., because they have a guaranteed universal single-payer health insurance system rather than the costly and inefficient bunch of money grubbing leeches that is the U.S. privatized health insurance system. Now, the big problem here is that this is unsustainable. We can't spend 20% of our GDP on health care and expect to maintain a viable economy, and at current rate of growth of health care spending, we'll be at 20% by the end of this decade.
Yet the Republicans have nothing -- nada, zilch, zero -- to offer regarding fixing this problem. Indeed, by pushing yet more people into the costly and inefficient individual health insurance market instead of the far more efficient group health insurance market, they'll make health care costs go up even *more* -- and almost all of the increased costs will be profits pocketed by health insurers. Meanwhile, the most cost-effective solution for funding, single payer ("Medicare For All"), *still* isn't on the table... gotta make sure the blood-sucking leeches in the private insurance industry get to make more profit from the illnesses of Americans, sigh. And President Obama seems just peachy-keen comfortable with that. Best Republican president of the past thirty years? We'll have to see, hmm?

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