Stepford RepublicansWritten by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, Congress had an opportunity to do a lot of good for a lot of people, including you and me. If the Republicans can quit fiddling while America burns, something of actual value to the average citizen might happen. Wouldn’t that be something! Unfortunately, it appears that all of the Republicans and a number of spineless Democrats who are beholden to the insurance companies will probably miss the opportunity to be a part of history.
The Republican spin machine is in full swing, misleading and misinforming the public. If you listen to them in order on the tube, they sound like Stepford Wives as they repeat, word for word, the same message, carefully crafted to misinform the public. They continue on their quest to obstruct virtually all business that comes before them.
I listened to Bob Latta parroting all the usual points on the local news the other night, droning on about “government run” health care, etc., etc. For starters, if he had actually read the legislation, nowhere in it is anything that even remotely resembles government run health care, other than the obvious, Medicare. Oh, and by the way, this bill will drive up the cost of Medicare to you and decrease your benefits. The American public, by overwhelming margins, doesn’t want this jammed down their throats, yadda yadda yadda.
The polls show that the public does not like the bill, by large margins, as it is portrayed. What they don’t tell you is that if it is broken down into its individual components, they are just as overwhelmingly supported by even larger margins. The Republicans also falsely state that no benefits will accrue for years even though we pay for it immediately. The Democratic Party has finally managed to put together a list of coherent talking points that address some of these misconceptions. Within the first year the bill will:
- Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage.
- Prohibit pre-existing conditions denials for all children in new plans.
- Provide immediate access for uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions through temporary high risk pools.
- Prohibit dropping of coverage in individual plans when you get sick.
- End lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits in all plans.
- Provide premium rebates to enrollees for insurers with high administrative costs and require public disclosure of premium to overhead costs.
- Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions.
- Require plans to cover enrollees’ children until age 26.
- Require new plans to cover preventative services and immunizations without cost sharing.
These are going to happen in the first year, and according to the same polls, are overwhelmingly popular. The lesson is that the medium is the message. The method of asking the questions in these polls often gives conflicting results.
Let’s address the other popular Republican scare tactic: that the seniors will have their Medicare benefits cut while raising their taxes. There will be an increase on the taxes of individuals making $200,000 or couples making $250,000 or more, it’s true. The increase however, is slight compared to the rising costs of health care, and will actually extend the solvency of Medicare.
To most middle-class working families, all of these things would be welcomed in these hard times especially.
Some of our most popular programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and many other social programs had similar poll numbers when first instituted. Once they became law, they became not only popular, but programs that are taken for granted today by most of the population. Oddly enough, the same Republicans who try to destroy the social safety net we’ve all come to expect for decades, posit themselves as its staunchest defenders. They’ve become masters at massaging the message so that it appears to mean the exact opposite of their purpose. One thing is clear, however.
The status quo definitely isn’t working and will not heal itself. It’s time to address these problems, and while the current bill is by no means a be all/end all answer to all the problems, it is a start. Let’s get it done, for all our sakes.