Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fines for the Broke, Struggling and Needy, Really?

A typical morning for me usually consists of listening to either NPR or C-Span's "Washington Journal." Well this morning I woke up just in time to hear Steve Scully on "Washington Journal" mention that the media adored "gang of six" health care proposal from Sen. Max Baucus plans to include fines for individuals and families that do not purchase private health insurance, while simultaneously excising the notion of a public option (which is supposed to help drive down the overall costs of health insurance premiums).

As I've said in the past, I work for myself as a consultant. I am just starting out as my own boss, and I do not make enough yet to afford health insurance, especially insurance like I had a year ago (I won't even talk about the costs of COBRA; I laughed when I saw that bill). The very notion that this character wants to charge fines to the very people who are having difficulty affording health insurance from the off is friggin' insulting. This post over at "The Political Carnival" captures some of my feelings on this as well.

It is beyond offensive that people who have nothing to worry about in this health care debate (beyond campaign contributions), members of Congress, appear to be among the least sensitive or realistic in this discussion. Further, some within that "Greatest generation" have been painfully selfish in this debate as well. I wonder how many town hall protesters are recipients of governmental health care largess, whether it's medicare, social security or veteran's benefits?

I just hope that BHO can make something worthwhile happen after this speech tonight, because this whole debate has moved completely into the realm of the absurd.


Anonymous said...

How do Massachuesettes and Hawaii do it?

Couldn't we copy their actions, instead of making all these gyrations which are less about healthcare coverage and more about new forms of taxation?

I'm just sayin'...

Scott said...

A mandate to require that everyone is covered does make sense.

A fundamental of any kind of insurance is the avoidance of "adverse selection." No model of insurance, either private or public, can be economically viable if the only people who buy into it are the people who need it right now. I can't wait until my house is on fire to buy homeowner's insurance. I can't wait until I'm diagnosed with terminal cancer to buy life insurance--or health insurance.

That's why I'm glad to see President Obama embracing the idea of a mandate to require universal coverage (an idea he did not support during the campaign). And a mandate does in fact require some form of in, fines for those who don't buy in.

That's also why subsidies to make insurance affordable are necessary, and why the public option is essential.

Without the public option all we have is a huge government subsidy to the insurance companies. They (and politicians in their pockets like Baucus) would love "reform" that simply requires everyone to buy their product and supply tax dollars to make that possible for those who can't afford their premiums.

On another note, you say--

"Further, some within that "Greatest generation" have been painfully selfish in this debate as well. I wonder how many town hall protesters are recipients of governmental health care largess, whether it's medicare, social security or veteran's benefits?"

I've felt the exact same thing. I'm amazed to see so seniors arguing against "socialized medicine." Do they know what their Medicare is? Are they simply ignorant, or are they selfish?

hscfree said...

@Scott: I assume that you've heard about this notion of creating a "trigger" for the public option. Check out David Sirota on Rachel Maddow's show from last night. He hit the nail on the head. A trigger is established to avoid implementing a particular portion of legislation.
I agree with you that a public option of some sort is essential. I am just concerned that we will not get one, even though polls continue to show overwhelming support for it.
And I think that there is a degree of selfishness on the part of seniors, coupled (seemingly) with a lack of understanding the government role in their health care.

Anonymous said...

Is there a political leader from the "Greatest Generation" that you have in mind? To me, the 20 year failure to deal with serious public policy issues is in fact a failure of the baby-boomers.

There is a new movie out called taking Woodstock. I don't have to take Woodstock. Woodstock takes me every time I walk on the streets and have to face a drug addict or some criminal that grew up in a broken home. That is the legacy of Woodstock and the baby-boomers.

Anonymous said...

Forcing people (especially healthy people) to buy insurance is a common feature of most healthcare coverage proposals. It is usually offset by subsidies for the truly poor. It is one way to broaden the risk pool.