Sen. Mitch McConnell says Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity plan to dismantle Medicare and replace it with private industry vouchers “is a very sensible way to go to try to save Medicare,” adding that President Barack Obama’s Medicare plan would empower “a board that would ration health care.”
Let’s take a good look at that statement. Rationing of healthcare is a reality in any and every situation anywhere. Unless everyone is given full access to medical care anywhere, anytime and for any reason (a hypochondriacs dream situation) there is “rationing.” Some sensible management of a person’s medical care is important. Too many x-rays, cat scans, MRI’s and such imperil one’s life from exposure to radiation. Even getting too many, frequent dental x-rays is irresponsible.
So now we accept that some management is necessary so abusers don’t bankrupt the rest of us let’s actually examine the current situation in the U.S. Most Americans receive their health care either from a government program or from private health insurers. If you work for the government, are in the Armed Forces, are a senior citizen, disabled or an orphan you already have government healthcare. Medicare and Medicaid are two of these programs. A substantial portion of our population is covered by these programs including both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. I haven’t seen either of them renounce their coverage.
Private insurers, for profit companies and “non-profit” Blues which retain hundreds of millions in “profits” provide the balance of everyone’s coverage. Except for the 59 million Americans who have been rationed out of the system entirely. So we already have rationing.
Now we have a situation where those with pre-existing conditions get rationed in their coverage. If you have had a “condition” in the past your private health coverage may likely exempt you from benefits for future treatment for it. This is also rationing.
If you get seriously ill, cancer, MS, heart disease, need an organ transplant or whatever your private insurer can opt to drop you completely rather than pay for your medical care. Unfortunately this happens frequently. This is also a form of rationing.
You also have lifetime coverage limits. Whether $1 million, $10 million or whatever coverage limits ration the healthcare available if you have private insurance coverage. Your policy also rations how many times you can be hospitalized in a year, how many tests you may have done, where you go for treatment, who you may see and what you may have done. This is all rationed healthcare.
If your primary physician refers you to a specialist and you cannot get into see them immediately and must wait for several days or weeks that is a waiting line. We have always had “waiting lines” except for the most urgent situations. Even going to an emergency room involves waiting your turn. I’ve rarely gone to a doctor without having to wait in their office. Mental health is severely restricted in our current health care system for example. That care is severely rationed.
Rationing and waiting lines have been intrinsic parts of health care for as long as there has been health care. Republicans concocted these terms to scare people about single payer government health care. Death panels is their latest fear mongering term. Imagined by opponents to the Affordable Care Plan a feature which paid for a consultation for a person with their doctor to review end of life decisions, a Living Will for example, was twisted to mean a panel of bureaucrats would determine who might receive life saving treatments and who would not. Gullible, stupid people swallowed this obscenity and actually believed it would happen.
Actually it did, under a Republican Governor in Arizona. Faced with a mounting state deficit issue Jan Brewer decided that Arizona transplant patients would die rather than get life saving medical care. They did.
An actual government managed single payer system would fix this broken system with which we currently suffer. The underlying weaknesses are costs which remain out of control and which keep forcing more and more people out of the pool. The employer based coverage developed in the 1940’s to provide incentive for workers when wages were frozen has not worked well long term.
With no cost controls and 59 million uninsured citizens and millions more under insured we must re-examine how we deliver health care. A single payer system means the government replaces private, for profit industry and the Blues and collects all premiums. They then remit payments to all private providers of health care under rules, guidelines and regulations mutually agreed upon. Now any huge insurance company can arbitrarily determine whether you get coverage, your coverage continues, you have access to medical care, what you receive and whether it can summarily determine it will no longer cover your illness, injury or situation.
In the proposals for a single payer system all providers of health care would remain private. No doctors, nurses, lab technicians or other providers of your medical care would become government employees. This makes Congressman John Conyer’s bill a hybrid public/private method in which every person had an automatic right to health care.
The Paul Ryan plan which Sen. McConnell embraces in his quote would further ration health care by eliminating Medicare as we know it. Currently eligible recipients (those 65 and over, the disabled and orphans) as they become eligible would get a voucher worth $6000 to use to obtain health insurance in the private market. It replaces a system (Medicare) with 3% overhead with a market based system with average 25% overhead. That means for every dollar you provide for coverage instead of 3 cents going to administer the program 25 cents is wasted. That rations health care by sending your premiums to the pockets of shareholders, executives and CEO’s earning multiple millions in salaries each year. That is rationing.
It means instead of getting Medicare automatically regardless of your health you will be sent to private insurers who could refuse coverage, exempt certain conditions or at any time in the future decide you will no longer be covered. That is rationed health care.
I ask Mitch McConnell if he simply spoke from ignorance, callousness or stupidity?