Health

Healthcare legislation and you

4155232663_796c0643e9_oRegarding the health care legislation in both House and Senate, I’ve had little to say. There’s really not much point. Those who hate Obamacare do so for a combination of good and bad reasons, and they want it gone. Those who support the ACA unreservedly I also don’t understand, given it’s severe flaws. And, like it or not, the government we have now is the one we’ve got, so nothing they’re doing should be even a little surprising. Most of us have probably figured out by now that many folks across the spectrum already have their minds made up for a host of reasons. My understanding is that everyone thinks they have good reasons. As I’ve come to realize, nobody wakes up and decides, “hey, I’ma believe something stupid today.” That doesn’t keep us from doing it. It’s just not by our own design.

Mind you, “it is what it is,” would be more than a bit of a cop out. If someone supports what may or may not be coming down the pike, all I can say is best of luck to you and everyone. And if someone opposes what seems likely one day to the next, who’s to gainsay that? People disagree about stuff, and to a lot of people, on any and all sides of this issue, this is big stuff.

My advice and five pennies will get you a nickel, but it’s really simple this time. Make haste slowly. Be sure you will like what you get if you get what you ask for. Whatever else is at stake, we’re dealing with upper middle-class to rich hospital administrators, mega-rich and out of touch healthcare industry CEOs, mega-rich and out of touch pharmaceutical industry CEOs, overpriced universities run by people who pay coaches more than professors, and more than they make themselves, overextended student credit extended by banks run by mega-rich CEOs out to get richer making the rich richer, often guaranteed by our federal government in such a way that the government cuts a profit, which should raise an eyebrow or three, doctors who would really like to recoup their education expenses and maybe make six figures in a specialty instead of accepting less for general practice, and let’s not forget those mega-rich insurance company CEOs, bastions of good will to the customer all.

Did you have a hand in drafting any of the legislation in the House and Senate? Of course not. We, the people, don’t get to have our voices heard by the people in Congress. If we did, we’d stand greater than a 1 in 3 chance of getting legislation we actually want passed. Once the pols in DC and the statehouses get our generous campaign contributions and our votes, that’s all they need from us. You know who did have a hand in that legislation? All those folks mentioned above that you aren’t. Whether one is for or against either bill before Congress, I’m just suggesting one should wonder long and hard if any of those folks have your interest in mind, or just your money.

That said, while the temptation is great to only look at opinions that already agree with your own, it’s worth taking a gander at what each side is saying.

For instance, opponents of the bills, especially the Senate bill, are claiming that the bill would cut Medicaid. Their opposition points out that calling an increase a cut is a mighty damned peculiar thing. They even dredged up the should-be-totally-irrelevant Ari Fleischer, who, one might recall, made his fame as mouthpiece for the administration that lied us into the war in Iraq post-9/11. His brilliant analogy so the really dense among us will get it? If you’re offered $50k/year to start and promised a $100k/year in the future, but only actually get $75k/year in the future, you can’t call that a cut when you still went up $25k/year.

Now, I know that man on the street interviews have no weight whatsoever, and a sample size of two is just anecdotal, but I offer this for consideration. Without bringing politics into it, I asked two coworkers whose common sense I generally trust a question. Let’s say you got a job like this one somewhere and they offered you $15/hour now and in two years it’ll go up to $17/hour. You work there two years. They give you a raise to $16/hour instead. You okay with that?

All two of my sample were completely not okay with that, just sayin’.

And while we decide whether or not that was worth considering, let’s also consider this. I’ve seen it said that of one million uninsured people, approximately 1,300 of them will die specifically because they were uninsured. The CBO estimates that the Senate bill will increase the number of uninsured in America by 22 million people in 2026. Make of that what you will. My napkin math, eliminating consideration for the gain in that number over time until we reach 2026, tells me at least one little thing. In 2026, the number of uninsured Americans will be [(number of uninsured “today”) + 22 million]. Whatever happens between now and then, that year, it is at least projected that no fewer than 22 million Americans will be uninsured under the Senate plan.

“Only” 22 million Americans. And, as I see, it, that’s the lowest estimate one can crank the number down to based on credible reports thus far.

1,300 per million uninsured Americans will die from lack of insurance. 1,300 times 22.

28,600 Americans, at a minimum, are projected to die. And since we know that 22 million uninsured Americans is what we can expect to be added to the population of uninsured Americans courtesy of today’s GOP Senate leadership, we can surmise that the actual number of deaths by insurance deprivation is significantly higher, but is higher by 28,600 avoidable American deaths. These 28,600 avoidable American deaths are only avoidable because, at the moment, the Senate has not succeeded in its plan.

If the Senate eventually has its way, whatever else can be said about what they accomplish for good or ill, they have told us that 28,600 unnecessary avoidable American deaths is just acceptable losses.

That’s almost ten 9/11’s worth of American casualties, but totally self-inflicted. So, thank you, Ari Fleischer, for giving me that metric to peg the damage against. It makes a hell of a lot more sense than your perverse salary analogy. People who will never make $50,000 get that what you proposed as a defense is a screwjob, but what else can we expect from you when the mission is to protect American interests?


Image credit: Neff Conner @ flickr.com, licensed under Creative Commons.

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