It always gets back to health care.
That’s why 2009 and 2010 were so consumed by President Obama’s push for health-care reform and why Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals are at the center of politics in 2011. Our long-term budget problem is primarily about two things: a shortage of revenue and rising health-care costs.
The revenue and health-cost issues are intertwined. The whole debate comes down to whether we want government to absorb a significant part of the risk of insuring us against illness, which means we’ll have to pay somewhat higher taxes, or whether we want to throw more and more of that risk onto individuals.
In that situation I think we first need to establish just how much the government is already paying out on health care.
Total current annual costs would include the basics like Medicare and Medicaid. Then add in Departments like BIA and VA that provide their own health care within their departments. Now add in the odds & sods, like money to help maintain indigent clinics and hospitals.
And a big one, all the money paid out for government employee and retiree health insurance. Even Ex Congressmen and women get very expensive health care, as do ex-Presidents.
That total dollar costs should be looked at. What else can we do with that total outlay that would deliver core care at a lower cost to everyone in hte country?
Here’s the basic difference before us: Conservatives want government to play less of a role in paying for health insurance. Progressives believe that government will inevitably play a growing role in the provision of health insurance because if it doesn’t, more Americans will lose their coverage.
The progressive view is not a theory. It is what experience has taught in other wealthy democracies, and in our own country, too. The enactment of Medicare was an admission that most senior citizens simply could not afford health coverage without government help. What was true of seniors in 1965 is now also true of many non-elderly Americans.
The inflation rate of private health insurance continues to rise faster than the Cost of Living - that is basically sucking the middle class to a point were it will be unaffordable.
One of the core reasons for this abnormal increase in costs is that there is a continual increase in patients going to hospitals. We are running around chasing our tails with current games and a public option that provides core care can be very effective in reducing these costs without ending Medicare as we know it.
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