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At this point it's about defining the "win"

By Frank Salvato
web posted December 21, 2009

Does anyone remember back to when the current healthcare reform initiative began? What were the goals? What were the reasons for the subject even being broached? Progressives and Democrats insisted that the healthcare system was broken because there were millions of people (figures varied, but averaged around 37 million) who were uninsured and that those who had health insurance were subject to continuously rising insurance premiums and diminished coverage. The goal, Progressives and Democrats said, was to provide every American with health insurance and lower healthcare costs for all...all by the end of President Obama's first term.

Today, as we approach the end of President Obama's first term, the House and Senate bills that are being presented to the American people fail – miserably – to achieve these two basics goals. Instead, they present as a wish list for special interest groups, establish an unnecessary and additional government bureaucracy and stand as testimony to the opportunistic ineptitude of today's Progressive controlled Democrat Party. The only saving grace is that these bills will have to go through the reconciliation process before they are presented to President Obama for his signature, at which time the final product will become the law of the land...for now, at least.

Interesting in all of this is how the target goals have changed.

One of the cornerstones of Progressive healthcare reform, as far back as Hillarycare and as recently as the 2008 General Election, was to provide healthcare – or more accurately, health insurance – to each and every American, regardless of income demographic or pre-existing condition. This critical element of the initiative brought about debate and the eventual ruling out of a number of ideas and one in particular; a government-run or government administered public-option.

While Progressives and Democrats claimed a public option would promote "honest competition," lower health insurance premiums and provide health insurance coverage for every American, Republicans and Conservatives pointed out that a government-run public option would put private sector for-profit health insurance companies out of business and lead to a single-payer government-run healthcare system (something President Obama has stated he desires) that would inflict rationed care and diminished service while bankrupting the United States of America.

As it stands now, Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has all but abandoned the idea of a public option and, as a result, has all but abandoned the goal of providing health insurance to every American...as it stands now.

Then there was the goal of lowering health insurance premiums for all Americans. Progressive political action organizations and community organizers launched an unsuccessful campaign that tried to smear the health insurance industry as "big greedy corporations" out to gouge each and every American through ever-expanding health insurance premiums while increasing their denial of coverage so as to maximize profits, even as Grandma lay dying on the street. But this scheme backfired on the Progressive spin doctors because it was revealed that several organizations promoting this notion, including the AARP, were to benefit from selling "gap insurance" to the general public.

The goal of reducing the cost of health insurance suffered additional damage when the Congressional Budget Office released report after report indicating that the cost of health insurance under the House and Senate bills would lead to higher premiums, rationing and an increased federal debt burden. The latest report to be offered came from the Office of the Actuary for the Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which states:

"The national healthcare reform proposals in 'America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,' would make far-reaching changes to the health sector, including mandated coverage for most people, 'pay or play' requirements for most employers, expanded eligibility for Medicaid, Federal premium subsidies for many individuals and families, and a new system of health insurance exchanges for facilitating coverage. Additional provisions would...increase federal income tax revenues through a surcharge on high-income taxpayers.

"Total national health expenditures in the US during 2010-2019 would increase by about 2.1 percent. The additional demand for health services could be difficult to meet initially with existing health provider resources and could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, and/or changes in providers' willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage."

So, the notion of reducing health insurance costs has all but been abandoned, thus extinguishing any hope for the achievement of the second goal of the Progressive/Democrat healthcare reform initiative.

Meanwhile, Republicans and Conservatives have all but been locked-out of any meaningful discussion on the issue of reforming the health insurance industry, even though their suggestions would reduce costs, making it more affordable for Americans and US employers to acquire and provide health insurance by:

▪ Eliminating the anti-trust exemption currently enjoyed by health insurance companies;

▪ Eliminating the restrictions on purchasing and marketing health insurance across state lines:

▪ Eliminating industry restrictions that lead to denial of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions;

▪ Medical liability tort reform.

By implementing these common sense reforms and applying them to the health insurance industry – and by mandating that any company selling health insurance enter into a cooperative agreement to provide health insurance to those below an established income demographic in exchange for tax breaks – we really could lower health insurance costs and provide health insurance coverage to each and every American.

So, some questions beg to be asked:

▪ Why are Progressives and Democrats ignoring – for the most part – sound common sense proposals that would result in the achievement of their critical goals?

▪ If the critical goals presented at the outset of the healthcare reform initiative are not going to be realized, why are Progressives and Democrats insisting on moving forward with inferior legislation?

▪ What have their goals morphed into that they are so desperate to pass anything titled healthcare reform?

Admittedly, I have absolutely no idea what the answers are to the first two questions. Perhaps arrogance of power explains why Progressives and Democrats are moving forward with legislation that all but abandons what they set out to do. Arrogance of power would explain quite a bit of what they do and don't do.

But the answer to the third question is clear. The goal of healthcare reform has morphed from providing health insurance to all and lowering premiums for those who do have health insurance to chalking up a "W" in the win column for President Obama and the Democrat Party before the 2010 State of the Union Address. It doesn't matter that none of their critical goals have been achieved. It doesn't matter that the massive government take-over of the healthcare system (one-sixth of the US economy) eluded Progressives. What matters is crafting legislation so that President Obama and congressional Democrats can say they achieved something – anything – over the past year; since they achieved overwhelming majority status in US government.

Healthcare reform has morphed from something noble, to something grotesquely political. It's all about spinning another failure into a perceived "win." And that's pathetic. ESR

Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show airing on AM1220 WSRQ and on the Internet catering to the US Armed Forces around the world and on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at contact@newmediajournal.us.


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