State’s Rights on Health Care

This piece was posted yesterday. Unfortunately, due to server problems two posts on In All Things were lost. We are reposting the original content, in its entirety, below.

On July 10, Matt Miller, an opinion writer for the Washington Post and a public radio co-host, distilled the G.O.P.’s message to the uninsured of this country in two words: Drop dead.


His point gained credibility the very next day when the U. S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. The repeal was a piece of political theater, of course, with no hope of passage in the Senate.

A real repeal, by contrast, would have serious consequences. It would, for example, eliminate the very law that will soon extend health insurance to some 30 million uninsured Americans. No one should lose sight of that central fact or this one: No Republican has offered a replacement of equal worth to the uninsured either.

Then Matt Miller gave the president the following bit of strategic advice

In the debates this fall, pull out a small, laminated card you’ve had made as a prop for this purpose. Then remind Mitt Romney that the ranks of the uninsured today are equal to the combined populations of Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Kansas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont and ­Wyoming.

Read that list slowly, Mr. President. Then ask your opponent: Would America turn its back on the citizens of these 25 states if everyone there lacked basic health coverage?

How would you answer the question?

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Joshua DeCuir
6 years 6 months ago
There is a huge inconsistency in Mr. Miller's (and by extension, Ms. Smith's) rhetoric.  Miller writes:

'' Fifty million uninsured Americans would be the immediate casualties of the GOP’s “let them eat the emergency room” mentality. But all of us would be at risk. In America — alone among wealthy nations — everyone is a pink slip or job change or new illness away from finding they have lost coverage or are uninsurable.''

He then goes on - as does Ms. Smith - to castigate the GOP for not having a plan to remedy that situation.  But this is demonstraby false, as any Google search would reveal.  Conservative policy-wonks have been advocating for a long time that we should get rid of the employer tax deduction for health insurance in the Tax Code becaues it grossly distorts the insurance market.  It's not just conservatives who have advocated it; most liberals also agree it has distorting effects.  Here's Ezra Klein.

In the 2008 Presidential campaign, Sen. McCain, drawing on this policy consensus, proposed amending the tax code to give the deduction to each individual rather than to businesses, together with credits to help the poor.  Then-Sen. Obama mercilessly attacked McCain for proposing a massive tax increase on the middle class (then, when he was President, he put in a ''Cadillac'' tax on expensive health plans that many union workers get - scheduled to take effect after he's out of office, of course).  It is true changing the tax treatment wouldn't give health insurance to as many people as Obamacare, but it has the added benefit of addressing the skyrocketing cost of health insurance - something everyone agrees Obamacare does nothing to address.  So while Obamacare make get high marks for coverage, it gets failing marks for addressing the real problem of skyrocketing costs.  And Obamacare does nothing to move us away from an employer-based system.

I was also struck by this statement from Miller:

''It’s striking to recall that back in 1992, George H.W. Bush put out a serious plan to cover 30 million of the then 35 million uninsured. (Democrats at the time rejected it, figuring they’d do the job on their own terms once Bill Clinton won. We know how that turned out.)''

So apparently, Mr. Morris and Ms. Smith think it's just fine when Democrats played politics in 1992 to deny health insurance to 30-35 million people for political gain, but when Republicans play politics - building on public polling showing just how unpopular Obamacare is, and that most people are happy with their current health insurance coverage - it is somehow a great moral failure.  Curious, no?

(And before I'm castigated for being a hearless, right-wing Tea Partier, I am not in favor of repealing Obamacare in toto, but rather amending it so that it addresses the problem of cost - which is why there are many coverage problems as well.)
Michael Barberi
6 years 6 months ago
Great response Josh.

I totally agree with you. Most Republicans and Democrats want all Americans to have healtcare coverage that is "affordable". In my 30+ years in the insurance and consulting industries, I rarely ever found a government forecast of piece of complicated healthcare legislation accurate. The CBO overestimated savings and underestimated the costs of ObamaCare. I find Mr. Miller's and Ms. Smith's bloviating irresponsible rhetoric when they don't address the mulitple costs problems of ObamaCare. They are distorting the truth by selecting one side of the issue and neglecting all the other issues.

The Republicans will overturn ObamaCare and replace it with something more reasonable. I agree that the details are not clear and i hope more information will become available during the Presidential debates. However, one thing is clear; ObamaCare will cause significant cost problems for us. If I had to "start somewhere" the last place I would start would be with a comprehensive national program covering all Americans based on untested theories and questionable cost projections.
Joshua DeCuir
6 years 6 months ago
Ross Douthat, Josh Barro and Jonathan Chait had a series of exchanges last week about this, and in fairness, I agree with Ross Douthat that the GOP politicians (as opposed to the policy wonks) have not advocated a compelling alternative, in part because they lack anything as comprehensive as Obamacare, but also because the make-up of the GOP is not as driven on the issue as the interests of the Democratic Party.

But it seems markedly unfair to me for Miller & Smith to knock the GOP for not having a plan, but point to the employer-based system that the GOP HAS been trying to change over the objections of many Democrats (primarily because of union opposition to things like the Cadillac tax) for years. If anything, it is the GOP who is progressive on the issue of changing the employer-based system and its tax advantages (which also happens to be highly regressive).
J Cosgrove
6 years 6 months ago
''How would you answer the question?''

I would say it is a lie, just like nearly everything else Obama says. Then I would start listing the lies Obama has said, just as Jesus listed the sins of those who would stone the women in adultery. It would take up the rest of the debate and one would not even be through half the list.
J Cosgrove
6 years 6 months ago
''Jesus didn't list anybody's sins in that scene.''

I know, He was making a grocery list to remind the disciples what to get at the next town.

And thanks for supporting my point.
Michael Barberi
6 years 6 months ago
In the scene where a woman is accused of adultery and the crowd wants to stone her to death, Jesus answers the questions of the Scibes and Pharises, he said "those among you without sin, let they cast the firrs stone against her". He the started to write something on the ground, then suddenly, they all walked away and only the woman and Jesus was left. Jesus then asked the woman "is there anyone hear who condemns you" says the woman...then neither do I condemn you...go and sin no more.

No one really knows what Jesus wrote but it was clear that those in authority were moved by their consciences and the sins they had committed and left without further discussion.
Kang Dole
6 years 6 months ago
Jesus didn't list anybody's sins in that scene.
Anthony Y
6 years 3 months ago
The new health care law requires every American to have health insurance. But, the sad thing is that not everyone can afford to pay for it. Anyone who is getting taxed for not having medical care knows how ridiculous it is since most health care will not cover medical expenditures anyway. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 49 million U.S. citizens who do not have health coverage today. The Affordable Care Act seeks to address that failing. So, make sure you pay it immediately to keep away from the Internal Revenue Service.


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