While the President is too busy proposing to destroy the (not broken) social security system for future benficiaries, his brother, Florida Governor JEB Bush, attempts to confront a much more pressing and current problem: how to destroy the Medicaid system for current beneficiaries.
His answer, obviously, is called "ration care". Remember when Saint Hillary of Chappaqua first proposed her 487 volume health care proposal (because she was afraid that simply saying "mandate that employers pay 80% of health insurance premiums for all workers" sounded too much like "employer mandate" which is bad, and had to be obscured by 487 volumes, thereby pissing off the entire nation with her arrogance, costing Democrats the House of Representatives, the senate, and eventually, everything else except a senate seat for herself)? You see, the Republican mantra was "she wants to ration your care-- not like the hallowed free market does now..." They rode it into control of Congress.
And yet, now the Republican heir apparent to the Presidency, dynastic brother JEB, offers the standard Republican answer for all irritating government programs not designed to steer taxpayer money to family friends and supporters: destroy the program, and call it "privatizing". It's pretty clear that JEB wants to turn ALL Florida Medicaid recipients over to the private sector, where private insurers can have the final call on whether to cut off care, a/k/a rationing. What's unusual, and gives this "the mark of Bush", is
that there would not be a final state backup if someone had too many health problems for a private insurer to pick up (such as a "lifetime cap" being exceeded), and run out of their own resources (of course). In short, JEB would have such people either throw themselves at the mercy of private charities, or, preferably, die in the streets like animals.
We can call this "Bush care"... as in "Bush league". While the President hasn't "gone national" with this, rest assured this will be a model program for the nation as a whole, as it tries to deal with an escalating Medicaid/Medicare cost structure, which unlike social security, will collapse well before 2042 if nothing is done. So, rather than a dreaded "tax increase", or trying to get a handle on costs by, say, cutting sharper deals with drug companies, we have the standard Bush answer: fuck the poor. Let 'em fend for themselves, even if it means dying in the streets like (non-talking) dogs.
This is the future of our national health care system. You see, when Democrats propose universal health care (the dreaded socialized medicine), it's "rationing your care". When Republicans ration your care, it's, well... too freaking bad is what it is. The future, ladies and gentlemen. The Bush health care plan: don't get sick.
This is disgusting, but not surprising. Republicans are the quickest to point out flaws in government programs, no matter how successful, and claim that free markets are the answer, no matter the consequences. What is the most remarkable, however, is that despite all the examples of the social problems created by letting business run the world, so many people still view "the markets" as the be all and end all.
Business is business - shareholder value should be the primary concern of business. Which is why we need government to set up protections for consumers (e.g. anti-pollution laws; child labor laws; etc.). When we strip away those protections, we get New York, Chicago and London at the beginning of the 20th century.
The question we should ask outselves is to what extent government regulation of health care for profit businesses will be sufficient to adequately protect our citizens. Instead, Bush & Co. are asking themselves how much consumer protection regulation can we get rid of. Instead of using quality of care as the standard, Bush & Co., use the "how much can we get away with" standard - how many people can suffer how much before there is created massive national support for a better system?
Incidentally; watch congress in the coming year try to justify the dismantling of non-profit hospital and healthcare organizations (there are valid criticisms to be made). Real motive: get rid of the competition faced by for-profit hospital systems.
Posted by Tweed at January 12, 2005 11:31 AM