Americans Still Don't Understand Obama's Health Care Bill

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Ben Cohen
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I just read this quote from an AP report on the continued unpopularity of Obama's health care bill:

"There are some things I like, because I think that there are some
people who need health care," said Jim Fall, 73, a retired computer
consultant from Wrightwood, Calif.

But "I don't like the idea of the government
dictating what health care should be like," added Fall. "Nor do I like
them taking money out of Medicare. They are going to create more waste
and they are going to take away benefits."

The disconnect between what the health care bill actually is, and what it is perceived to be is still enormous. When you have people who say that on one hand that government should not interfere with people's health care and on the other, shouldn't cut an entirely government funded medical program, you know there is a serious problem.

Obama's health care reform package has very, very little to do with government. The government doesn't directly provide people with health insurance, give them greater access to health care or have anything to do with purchasing cheaper drugs. It simply regulates insurance companies to prevent them from kicking people off plans, raising rates arbitrarily or denying people coverage for pre existing conditions. It also provides tax credits so that people can afford to get covered (more details here).

While insurance reform is certainly a welcome move, it should not be confused with genuine health care reform. Providing massive subsidies to an industry that has been bankrupting America while only ensuring they actually do what they are supposed to do (ie. cover people) is not going to solve the huge hole health care creates in the economy. Americans spend far more money for far worse outcomes than virtually every other industrialized country because of the huge inefficiencies of the private insurance market. The only way to seriously reduce costs would be to 1. Scrap 90% of private health insurance and 2. Provide a genuinely good public health care plan.

That would be serious, government led health care reform. Yet Republicans and Fox News have managed to convince everyone that Obama's plan is somehow a 'government takeover of healthcare' despite it being the exact opposite.

Oy.