Monday, November 14, 2011

Socialized Medecine and a Birthday Wish

Happy Birthday, Mark.  I can't believe that my firstborn is 61 years old today.  That makes me older than Methuselah.  Have a wonderful day, son.  


Apparently I am going to have to fight this battle until I die.  But I promise to soldier on. 

It really baffles me as to why the Republicans never learn from history.   Facts be damned, they continue to push for old ideological solutions that have miserably failed in the past.  And based on faulty analysis they continue to thwart progress with old beliefs. They have never learned that when you are in a hole you should stop digging.


It just goes against the right-wing craw to admit that there are some things that government does better.  The one word, Socialism, drives them into a frenzy.   It seems that they think that if the government does something sensible we will all become Commies overnight.  


Yes, I will say it - Socialized medicine is the best way to go.  It insures that everyone is taken care of resulting in a healthier nation and it saves billions in cost.  Knowing that this will never happen until we have legislators that are not beholden to special interests and are not ideologically brain dead (not in my lifetime) I would be happy if we got Medicare for everyone.  The insurance companies would still get their billions in profit, as they do now, but people would stop dying because they can't afford to see a doctor or get a needed operation.


There is one fact that the Republicans don't want you to know.  Veterans get better health care than you do under their government socialized medicine.  And that galls the Republicans.  Now Romney is proposing  a voucher system for the VA.  Please give me a break.

I hope I am not infringing on any copyright laws by pasting Paul Krugman's entire article.  When I read it in this morning's New York Times I said a loud "Yes". Why don't the Republicans face the fact that when it comes to health care the government does it right? 

I can't say it as well so please read the article.

Vouchers for Veterans

American health care is remarkably diverse. In terms of how care is paid for and delivered, many of us effectively live in Canada, some live in Switzerland, some live in Britain, and some live in the unregulated market of conservative dreams. One result of this diversity is that we have plenty of home-grown evidence about what works and what doesn’t. 

Naturally, then, politicians — Republicans in particular — are determined to scrap what works and promote what doesn’t. And that brings me to Mitt Romney’s latest really bad idea, unveiled on Veterans Day: to partially privatize the Veterans Health Administration (V.H.A.). 

What Mr. Romney and everyone else should know is that the V.H.A. is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform. 

Many people still have an image of veterans’ health care based on the terrible state of the system two decades ago. Under the Clinton administration, however, the V.H.A. was overhauled, and achieved a remarkable combination of rising quality and successful cost control. Multiple surveys have found the V.H.A. providing better care than most Americans receive, even as the agency has held cost increases well below those facing Medicare and private insurers. Furthermore, the V.H.A. has led the way in cost-saving innovation, especially the use of electronic medical records. 

What’s behind this success? Crucially, the V.H.A. is an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it. So it’s free from the perverse incentives created when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense. And because V.H.A. patients are in it for the long term, the agency has a stronger incentive to invest in prevention than private insurers, many of whose customers move on after a few years.

And yes, this is “socialized medicine” — although some private systems, like Kaiser Permanente, share many of the V.H.A.’s virtues. But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.
Yet Mr. Romney believes that giving veterans vouchers to spend on private insurance would somehow yield better results. Why?
Well, Republicans have a thing about vouchers. Earlier this year Representative Paul Ryan famously introduced a plan to convert Medicare into a voucher system; Mr. Romney’s Medicare proposal follows similar lines. The claim, always, is the one Mr. Romney made last week, that “private sector competition” would lower costs. 

But we have a lot of evidence about how private-sector competition in health insurance works, and it’s not favorable. The individual insurance market, which comes closest to the conservative ideal of free competition, has huge administrative costs and has no demonstrated ability to reduce other costs. Medicare Advantage, which allows Medicare beneficiaries to buy private insurance instead of having Medicare pay bills directly, has consistently had higher costs than the traditional program.
And the international evidence accords with U.S. experience. The most efficient health care systems are integrated systems like the V.H.A.; next best are single-payer systems like Medicare; the more privatized the system, the worse it performs. 

To be fair to Mr. Romney, he takes a somewhat softer line than others in his party, suggesting that the existing V.H.A. system would remain available and that traditional Medicare would remain an option. In practice, however, partial privatization would almost surely undermine the public side of these programs. For example, one problem with the V.H.A. is that its hospitals are spread too thinly across the nation; this problem would become worse if a substantial number of veterans were encouraged to opt out of the system. 

So what lies behind the Republican obsession with privatization and voucherization? Ideology, of course. It’s literally a fundamental article of faith in the G.O.P. that the private sector is always better than the government, and no amount of evidence can shake that credo. 

In fact, it’s hard to avoid the sense that Republicans are especially eager to dismantle government programs that act as living demonstrations that their ideology is wrong. Bloated military budgets don’t bother them much — Mr. Romney has pledged to reverse President Obama’s defense cuts, despite the fact that no such cuts have actually taken place. But successful programs like veterans’ health, Social Security and Medicare are in the crosshairs. 

Which brings me to a final thought: maybe all this amounts to a case for Rick Perry. Any Republican would, if elected president, set out to undermine precisely those government programs that work best. But Mr. Perry might not remember which programs he was supposed to destroy. 

After posting this I checked my e-mail and found this entry from Rob Zerban, running for Congress in Wisconsin.  

He quoted Paul Krugman from another article.  It fits this post so I am adding it.


Paul Krugman made a great point recently about politicians like Paul Ryan. Whether it is trickle down economics or Bush tax cuts, they think their theories are the same as facts.

[Paul Krugman said: "Criticism of policy proposals is not the same thing as an ad hominem attack. If I say Paul Ryan's mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries, that's ad hominem. If I say that his plan would hurt millions of people and that he's not being honest about the numbers, that's harsh, but it's not ad hominem."

What he is talking about is why we have such gridlock in Washington. We cannot reach any agreements by debating anymore because Republicans refuse to accept any facts.



Hattie said...

I'm glad you posted this. Krugman makes all of this so clear.
And let's remember that fair minded elders believe that Medicare for all would be the best system, and give us credit for that. Most of us are not the "greedy geezers" Republicans would like to encourage. We are all too aware of the challenges younger people face, especially our children and grandchildren.
I'm with Kaiser, which keeps raising its costs but does provide me with reasonable affordable care.

Darlene said...

*Hattie - I'm with Care More and I, too, am provided with reasonable affordable care, but it goes up every year and it won't stop.

Anonymous said...

Darlene--Good posting.

Hattie--You wrote, "And let's remember that fair minded elders believe that Medicare for all would be the best system...." Now, I have to say that I know a reasonable number of unfair minded elders - who also believe Medicare for all to be the best system!
*chuckling - as usual*
Cop Car

Anonymous said...

P.S. Happy 61st anniversary of your having become a mother, Darlene!

Joy Des Jardins said...

Hmmm, I'm pretty sure Methuselah had some years on you Darlene...and didn't look anywhere near as cute. Happy Belated Birthday to your Mark.

Now that I'm all set up to get Medicare on Jan 1st, 2012.....and my supplimental insurance and Part D....I'm not going to think about it for the rest of the year...hopefully. I'm burned out by all of the hoopla. ~Joy

Darlene said...

*Cop Car - Keep chuckling.

*CC 2 -I never heard it put quite that way, but I'll accept the Happy Anniversary anyhow. Now I'm chuckling.

*Joy Des Jardins - I was so burned out that I didn't even compare benefits and prices this year. I just stayed put with the same HMO.

Chancy said...

I adore Paul Krugman. Thanks

Darlene said...

*Chancy - It is so nice to see your name in my comment box. Thanks for stopping by.

I think we have lots of company in our regard for Paul Krugman. He's the best.