Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Health Politics of Fear

Well, at some point we had to expect our Representative Scott Garrett to weigh in on the health care debate. In this week's Garrett Gazette he did, and his message is to be terrified of choice.

That's literally what the health care debate is over. Cut out all of the horror stories from other nations that don't apply, because that's not what we're talking about, and it comes down to choice. Even though Garrett and his fellow Republicans scream about rationing, most honest brokers acknowledge it already happens. We're talking about having an extra choice in our insurance options.

At about $100 billion a year, citizens are going to have to get health insurance, providers are going to have to become efficient, and citizens can shop for the same sort of plan Garrett and other Federal employees get.

Obviously, this scares the hell out of those spending $1.4 million a day to lobby against the effort. See, if insurance actually works as the market should dictate, instead of as a scam, the more people in an insurance pool the broader the risk is spread and the lower the cost.

Unfortunately, that's not how the system has worked. While Republicans have dusted off the early 90's playbook against health care, and are rehashing some of the misrepresentations of truth from the SCHIP debate; there are as many if not more horror stories generated by our current health care system. From hospitals dumping patients in alleys to insurance companies arbitrarily deciding people's access to care, we're living in a rationed system now.

Everyone knows at least one person who has had an issue with an insurance provider. And lets not forget that all of us who have insurance have to pay more for critical treatment of what could have been preventable when the 47 million uninsured need something.

However, we know that Garrett will vote against this based on "principle." However, as with his opposition to SCHIP, Garrett's belief that states should get to decide things for themselves, as he often cites the 10th Amendment, goes straight out the window:
Removing burdensome state coverage mandates and opening up the health care marketplace to competition across state lines could dramatically reduce health care costs in New Jersey and across the country.
So, the mandated coverage that states have decided their citizens should have needs to be removed by the Federal government. But isn't Garrett the one that argues states should be allowed to set their own standards for, well, everything else but health care?

To his credit, Garrett does address some of the things in the mammoth 1,000 page bill as being good ideas. From the Gazette:
Effectiveness: The current health care system reimburses the number of procedures rather than the quality and efficacy of the care. While doctors are compensated for extra tests and hospitals visits, they are not paid for offering telephone consultations or implementing health care IT. By encouraging quality over quantity of care, we can down on over testing and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship
This is part of what Mike Huckabee talked about when he said we have to go from a treatment of the sick mentality to a prevention and well-care mentality. It's a good idea, which is probably why steps are taken in the bill in this direction. Good ideas are good ideas regardless of party.

With Garrett being the only member of our Congressional delegation to oppose the SCHIP expansion, it makes sense that President Obama would come to our state tomorrow in support of Jon Corzine. Our program works, and reading what I have of the bill, it seems to be a further expansion of the good practices we have here. Every Republican except for Garrett believed enough in what we do here to vote for it to continue. We're a model for once. While Obama can boost Corzine, having an example that works boosts Obama.

Is the bill perfect? No. Will the Dem leadership have to capitulate to the Blue Dogs demands for some fiscal sanity? Absolutely. But while the fiscal conservative Democrats and the socialist Democrats find middle ground to move our nation forward, the fear mongering of Garrett and his Republican brethren mean once again our District doesn't have a seat at the table. They're not willing to honestly talk about the debate to their counterparts on the other side of the aisle or their constituents. So, we're going to be left out. Is that representation?

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