Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why health care reform will fail

Today on Capitol Hill, the Senate Finance Committee voted to pass a health care reform bill that doesn't include a government-run insurance plan of any kind. After the committee adjourned, five Republican senators spoke to reporters in a hallway of the Hart Senate Office Building.

"During a pause," The Hill newspaper reported, "a group of protesters spoke up who had sat silently in the committee room, holding signs that advocated for healthcare reform. The protesters numbered about a dozen and wore hospital patient gowns over street clothes."

The Hill reports that the protesters demanded to know why the senators had blocked the discussion of "single-payer," the Canadian-style health care system in which everyone receives free health care services paid for by the government.

Reporter J. Taylor Rushing writes that four of the GOP senators "left the scene," but Senator John Cornyn of Texas stayed to talk to an older couple who had driven all the way from California to witness the vote.

Senator Cornyn stayed for "several minutes" and "calmly" stated his reasons for opposing a single-payer health care system.

Now, get this:

"The couple, Bob and Bonnie Wolfe of Santa Cruz, Calif., said they appreciated Cornyn's gesture but still did not feel listened to.

"'The situation is, I have never been able to get a clear answer from any politician as to why Medicare covers 80 percent of my costs, but the insurance companies were able to come in and get their foothold in for that 20 percent,' Bob Wolfe said.

"'From our point of view, they shuffle papers,' said Bonnie Wolfe. 'They have nothing to do with our health care. They don’t take care of us.'"

This is why health care reform will fail. Here you have two people who are upset that Medicare only pays for 80 percent of their medical costs.

They were upset enough to drive from California to Washington D.C. to complain about it.

If Bob Wolfe wants a clear answer as to why Medicare covers only 80 percent of his costs, he shouldn't be asking a politician.

He should be asking a math teacher.

Or maybe he should ask Raul Castro.

"Nobody, no individual nor country, can indefinitely spend more than she or he earns," the Cuban leader said in a speech last August. "Two plus two always adds up to four, never five. Within the conditions of our imperfect socialism, due to our own shortcomings, two plus two often adds up to three."

Cuba has had fifty years to figure out that socialism doesn't work, but here in America, where we've only been going at it in earnest since last fall, a lot of Americans still don't believe there are any limits on what the government can buy for them.

They want housing subsidies and auto subsidies and child-care subsidies and free health care and a free college education, and most of all they want the self-esteem that comes with believing they earned all of this, or they're entitled to it because they were somehow cheated out of it by evil corporate titans and Republican politicians.

And they want it all. Eighty percent just annoys them.

So if you're out there in the workforce breaking your back to pay your own bills with after-tax earnings, Bob and Bonnie Wolfe have a message for you.

"Is that the best you can do?"

Copyright 2009