Sunday, October 6, 2013

These Four Paragraphs Embody So Much of What Is Wrong with Our National Debate on Health Care

The New York Times just published an article (likely to appear in the Sunday print edition) entitled "Conservative Georgia District Urges G.O.P. to Keep Up the Fight", which looks at public sentiment in Republican Tom Graves's district (GA-14). Graves, you may remember, was the original sponsor of the Defund Obamacare Act, which currently has 150 co-sponsors among the House GOP. Yes, it's actually called the "Defund Obamacare Act."

These four paragraphs particularly struck me:
Mr. Tripcony, the surveyor, said he underwent heart surgery not long ago without health insurance, “a bad blow.” He has been making payments against the cost. He had heard of the online marketplace for insurance that opened on Oct. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.

“I just don’t trust it,” said Mr. Tripcony, who has an equal distrust of President Obama. “I don’t like him, and I don’t feel comfortable with anything he’s got to do with.”

Mr. Tripcony said he had a better idea for a system to provide health care at a fair price. “I think it should be the same for everybody,” he said. “One big company, whether owned by the government or private.”

Informed that he had described the single-payer system that Mr. Obama abandoned when Republican critics called it socialized medicine, he said, “Yeah, I know, it’s crazy.”
Yep, that was a Republican offering single payer as his alternative to the Affordable Care Act. I would take issue with part of the Times's portrayal of the fate of single payer in 2009-2010. The Times says that Obama abandoned it because of Republican criticism. A single payer plan was DOA when Obama began a strategy of courting the health insurance industry and trying to get a few Republican votes. Many of the congressional staffers and policy advisers working on health care reform had deep ties to the health insurance industry as well. John Conyers, one of Congress's most stalwart supporters of a Medicare-for-All single payer system, couldn't even get a hearing from the president back in 2009. The public option, which had 2/3 support among the public, was killed for similar reasons.

Regardless, the four paragraphs excerpted from the NYT piece show just how warped the national debate becomes when it's filtered through a partisan lens.

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