Sunday, February 14, 2010

Republicans respond to Obama's invitation to healthcare summit

I know this is almost 1 week old, but I'm trying to post more often so I figured covering something late is better than not at all. House Republicans responded on Monday to President Obama's invitation to a televised healthcare summit. I'll let you do most of the reading, but it seems like this sentiment is one I hear a lot from Republican congressmen, as well as from conservative citizens, bloggers, etc. The main complaint is that Obama hasn't taken enough input from Republicans. Now, I would argue that when Democrats argued against many of Bush's policies, they were dismissed as being unamerican or giving into what the terrorists wanted, but let's not focus on the past. In all honesty, the idea of the majority party legislating without input from the minority is bothersome indeed. The Republicans seem to be much better at doing so (I mean that as a compliment; Democrats suck at getting enough congressmen to agree on anything in order to get stuff done even with the majority). Nevertheless, I disagree on the legitimacy of the Republicans' complaints here.

(More after the jump)

Now yes, Obama doesn't seem to have taken much input from Republicans, but on the other hand, I haven't seen anything worth a damn coming from their side anyway. Republicans love the idea of tort reform, which would be nice (and Obama said he's willing to discuss) but in reality, it would only save a couple percentage points over the next 10 years (see the CBO's report or another blogger's take). It hasn't really done Texas much good either. Republicans also encourage the ability to buy coverage across state lines, which I believe the experts say would only be useful if you increase regulations or at least standardize them. Otherwise states with loose regulations would take all the low risk people from other states and leave higher risk individuals out to dry. Republicans don't seem to favor regulation very often (or ever?), so I have difficulty believing they'd support that idea. So the net effect would be HMOs getting more money and maybe lowering premiums for the low risk people, but it would hose all the higher risk people and make it even more difficult for them to get coverage with reasonable premiums. This would be even worse than what we have now!

So yeah, Obama could work with Republicans more, I agree with that. But the Republicans' "ideas" are just meant to score political points and would do nothing to solve the problem of escalating costs and unsatisfactory coverage. They're saying "no" to many of the Democrats' ideas and exploiting basic American fears about government when they exaggerate (if not outright lie about) parts of the plan as is. I thought some of this was obvious when Obama met with House Republicans and didn't hold back when responding to dishonest statements and questions. Whenever stuff like this is televised, people need to watch it. Don't just watch the coverage of it by Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, or anyone else. It doesn't even matter if that news source is objective or not. We have a chance to see these debates (or Q&A's, State of the Union, etc.) unfiltered, so let's actually take advantage of the opportunity. Don't wait for someone else's analysis when you can see how it resonates with yourself first. I find it hard to believe that people don't have an hour to spare to watch such events.

I'm a 1st year medical student, so reform is very important to me. And if anything, reform would likely lower my income, so it's not like healthcare reform will do me much good directly. Tort reform may or may not do much to decrease my malpractice insurance though, depending on my future specialty. Still, there are a lot of loopholes that HMO's exploit (because they can; it's not necessarily evil but if you have a way to make more money and as a CEO keep your job, you're going to do it) and those need to be closed and we need to improve affordability and accessibility to healthcare. The democrats' ideas are far from perfect and they're still pretty conservative compared to what we would need to do to decrease costs to what they should be. But they're a hell of a lot better than just saying "no" while bitching about bipartisanship and trying to score cheap political points by distorting the truth and exploiting fears.

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