What Does the President's 'Meaningful Coverage' Mean for Health Care?
Upon taking office, President Obama hit the ground running on comprehensive healthcare reform that he originally referred to as "universal health care" but now calls "meaningful coverage."
What is "meaningful coverage," and what do the few specifics we've been given concerning it portend for our future physical health and the viability of our nation as a whole?
During the Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, NV, on November 15, 2007, Obama said his plans to implement "universal health care" had grown out of his belief that many uninsured Americans "desperately wanted [insurance]" but couldn't afford it. He said his plan would make it, "affordable to get health care ...[that was] as good as the health care" enjoyed by members of Congress.
After securing the Democrat nomination in 2008, Obama pressed his plan with urgency by regularly telling the story about his mother dying from cancer while being denied insurance coverage because the insurers said her cancer was a pre-existing condition. This gave Obama his bad guy -- insurance companies -- which he could pit against the American people in promoting healthcare reform.
Using his mother's story as a segue, Obama's stump speech contained the line: "As president I'll ... make sure insurance companies can't discriminate against those who are sick and need care the most." This line always caught my ear because it's completely nonsensical. How can any sane person expect to have their health insured if some disease has already destroyed their health before they seek insurance?
Sane or not, the emphasis on "discrimination" always succeeded in exciting those who attended his speeches, as those who came to Obama rallies loved to hear that their health care was going to be guaranteed by the government (just like their mortgages).
Candidate Obama occasionally threw the privatization crowd a bone by promising to create a National Health Insurance Exchange so that people who already had health insurance could keep it yet enjoy lower premiums than they had before. And since becoming president he's said that if someone has "a doctor that they like, they should be able to keep [that] doctor [under his plan]. They should just pay less for the care that they receive." Doesn't anyone ever wonder how Obama is going to lower insurance premiums or cut the price on doctor visits?
President Obama hasn't missed a chance to push for universal health care, now called "meaningful coverage," even if the numbers he uses to push it seem exaggerated or the logic behind his arguments and promises appears to be flawed.
For example, on February 24, 2009, while speaking to a joint session of Congress, Obama said: "The crushing cost of health care ... now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds." Upon hearing this I grabbed my calculator and ascertained that that means roughly 1,036,800 American families a year are filing bankruptcy because of healthcare expenses.
This is quite amazing when you consider that the New York Times reported there were only 826,732 bankruptcies in America in 2007, with approximately 1.2 million estimated for 2008. Either Obama is right and nearly every bankruptcy in this country is a result of healthcare expenses, or the numbers are purposely being exaggerated in order to create a crisis great enough to justify implementing his healthcare plan.
Let's face it: It's easy to create a sense of crisis if we simply look at outcomes without first investigating causes.
For example, on March 21, 2009, Obama said: "Medicare costs are consuming our federal budget [and] Medicaid is overwhelming our state budgets." He didn't bother mentioning that the states worst hit are those where illegal immigrants have turned hospital emergency rooms into wards where they receive medical treatment for "free," or have their baby, then flee, leaving the hospital holding both the baby and the expenses; expenses which are then charged to Medicaid.
Thus it's not Medicaid that's hurting us but the government's failure to guard our borders and the subsequent Obama-sustained policy of providing taxpayer-funded health care to illegal immigrants. Yet Obama will no sooner admit this than he admitted that Democrat corruption in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exacerbated our "mortgage crisis."
Instead, Obama just jumps to the next talking point and starts the litany all over by saying, "We have to ensure that people aren't overcharged for prescription drugs [or] discriminated against for preexisting conditions." The former of which means more regulation and the latter of which expands the government's involvement in the insurance sector.
Can someone tell me how Obama plans to force insurance companies to insure people who are already sick and dying while subsequently guaranteeing that everyone who holds to their existing healthcare plan will pay less than they do now? How will insurance companies be able to take in less in premiums if they're paying out more in benefits by insuring the sick and dying?
And if Obama thinks prescription drugs cost too much currently, keep in mind that a new drug will cost a company like Pfizer upwards of $900 million before it ever reaches the point of coming before the FDA for approval; and even then there's no guarantee of approval. Where will such research capital come from once Obama universalizes medicine and caps drug prices, thereby cutting not only profit but also the monies used to research and develop newer, life-saving drugs?
Ask yourselves this question: Have the bailouts or stimulus packages delivered us from the "financial crisis" Obama convinced us loomed on the horizon if we didn't act? No. And his "meaningful coverage" will not end the "healthcare crisis" he assures us we'll face if the government does not act either.
Of course his plan is ultimately not designed to "fix" the healthcare system in the first place. It's designed to take it over.
And when that happens, every one from insurers to the insured, from pharmaceutical companies to pharmacists, and from doctors to patients will understand that a real crisis is the result of a power grab by a young president who is a rank amateur in everything but socialism.