DMI Blog

Elana Levin

State of the Union Address Has a Bad Rx for Healthcare

While you're waiting for DMI's full response to the State of the Union to go live on our website here are some of my thoughts.

In the State of the Union address tonight President Bush attempted to sell America on some full scale political philosophy; the philosophy that privatization is the answer to everything. Bush is promoting a failed ideological experiment on the backs of middle class Americans. Bush's highly ideological "solutions" refuse to address the core causes of the problems the middle class is facing.

In terms of his domestic policy agenda Bush's health care ideas stood out to me as an example of this problem. The solution to the un-affordability of healthcare is not subsidizing the buying of inefficient private health insurance and legalizing junk healthcare policies that don't cover needed care and encourage healthy and rich people to leave the health insurance risk pool. Bush is wrong- Americans don't have too much healthcare, they have too little. 2 out of 5 people with health insurance deductibles over $1,000 decide to forgo needed medical care because of the cost.

The skyrocketing costs of health care are attributable to a host of factors, from new technology, to inefficiencies in the system, and soaring HMO profits. Ultimately Health Savings Accounts as advocated for by the President would do nothing to address the fundamental problems of our enormously expensive and inefficient private health care system; HSAs just push risk and costs from businesses and the government on to America's squeezed middle class and exacerbate existing strains in the health care system.

And that's just one example of how the philosophy the President prescribed in his address fails America.

While the President could have proposed a health care plan that would cover every American for less than the annual cost of the Iraq War, President Bush has instead proposed raising taxes on middle-class Americans who have managed to secure a good health plan while making it easier for employers to get rid of the health benefits they offer.

On the surface Bush's proposal to have state governments create initiatives to get people to buy private insurance would suggest he's finally getting the message that preventative care is the way to go in terms of creating long-term, health for Americans and that leaving emergency care to pick up the pieces for the broken healthcare system is the wrong answer. But totally under-funding emergency care that helps the most vulnerable just because he refuses to challenge the insurance lobby is the worst answer too. Yes the government needs to prioritize preventative care but 1. good insurance not junk insurance provides truly preventative care 2. cutting public hospital budgets punishes the most vulnerable for the problems of the healthcare system.

And in the end of the day, can you think of one example of an over-funded public hospital?
Yeah. Thought so.
That's probably why the California Nurses Association has a great post on MyDD about healthcare.

Sisyphus Shrugged did a bang-up job liveblogging. DMIBlog's ongoing guest blogger Barbara O'Brien of Mahablog has a super liveblog including some of her thoughts on the media's reactions, as has the great Tom Watson. For your foreign policy needs keep an eye on The Agonist (its not all they do but darnit, they do it so well). At Alternet PEEK has a range of great coverage with video I recommend too.

Here's a technorati tag to use if you'll be posting and linking to our work.

Elana Levin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 2:31 AM, Jan 24, 2007 in Health Care | Middle-class squeeze | Politics | Progressive Agenda | State of the Union
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