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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Friday, January 8, 2010

This and that

Things that have been on my mind in recent days, but that I haven't had time to write about until now:

* Rush Limbaugh using his post-hospitalization press conference to take swipes at the Democrats' health care reform plan was not only shameless, but woefully ill-informed. The right-wing windbag couched his "no need to change the system" argument in the fact that he received excellent medical care after his heart scare and that health care in the United States is the best in the world. News flash for you, Rush: No one's disputing that the doctors and hospitals in this country are top-notch. The health care reform plan isn't about the quality of care, it's about access to care and the affordability of care - things that aren't problems for rich celebrities like you but are for many people. The fact that you don't even understand the issue about which you're bloviating speaks volumes about how out of touch you are with the difficulties faced by ordinary Americans.

* How come, after Sept. 11, 2001, Republicans insisted that all Americans should rally around the GOP president who let the attacks of that awful day happen, but in the wake of the recent failed attack on a Northwest Airlines flight, it's OK for the same Republicans to blame the current Democratic president for the security lapses that almost led to a catastrophe in the skies over Detroit? (Lapses that, by the way, were the result of the failed policies of the former chief executive.) I guess the requirement that everyone join hands and make nice only applies when 3,000 innocent Americans are allowed to die by a hapless commander in chief who ignored clear warnings that such carnage was coming.

* Speaking of the Northwest Airlines incident, how ironic, or perhaps fitting, that President Obama delivered his Thursday night address about security lapses from a podium in the State Dining Room at the White House - the very room where a notorious security lapse (or two) occurred just a few weeks ago.

* A recent poll found the majority of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. Seriously? In this economy, complete with its 10 percent unemployment rate, I would think the only litmus test for job satisfaction would be whether one has a job.

* Sitting in the waiting room at an orthopedist's office this week, I found it amusing that most of the magazines available for patients to read were about skiing. It seems to me that any ski enthusiast waiting to see an orthopedist is probably not, at the present time, able to ski.

* Have you seen those commercials on New York City TV stations for the Top of the Rock observation deck at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan? I love that the spot ends with a view, from 30 Rock, of the Empire State Building - merely a reminder to viewers that Top of the Rock does not offer the best views in the Big Apple.

* People who suggest the current cold spell affecting much of the United States is proof that global warming is a hoax sound like morons. (Are you listening, Neil Cavuto at Fox News?) One stretch of below-average temperatures doesn't change the fact that ice at the Earth's poles continues to melt at an alarming rate or that the decade just ended was the warmest since record-keeping began.

* The legislative leaders in Ulster, Dutchess and Orange counties all spoke this week about how they expect bipartisan cooperation in their respective chambers this year. Yeah, OK. I'll believe it when I see it.



Blogger Martin McPhillips said...

Jeremy writes: "The health care reform plan isn't about the quality of care, it's about access to care and the affordability of care - things that aren't problems for rich celebrities like [Rush Limbaugh]."

At the low end of the income or non-income line we already have Medicaid. And it's already bankrupting many states. At the retirement end of the line, there's already Medicare, which as a supposedly self-contained entitlement program is rounding into bankruptcy. In between we have what's left of the private insurance market and most people who have that like it. There is a disputed number of people (the number keeps changing) of people who "don't have coverage."

In fact, however, if you walk into an emergency room without coverage you get treatment (been there, done that). The cost of that, if the patient never pays for it, gets factored into a hospital's overall charges to paying customers. It's a charity-by-proxy system.

Enter the federal government and its "reform" plan. Massive bureaucratic oversight to achieve what effect? Lower costs? No, not really. Everybody covered? Nope.

So, in the end, it's about power, not medicine.

Make it so that health insurers have to compete for customers across state lines and stop adding requirements to insurers, while making insurance portable, and you put purchasers in a much better position.

The reforms that this Congress is about to pass will inflict wild and irreversible damage on the medical insurance market and on the medical industry. If there is one lesson in economics from the 20th century it is that central planning does not work. The spontaneous order of the marketplace does. The health insurance marketplace needs more competition (not "competition" from government), not more central regulation and bureaucracy.

No reform is better than what the Congress is about to pass.

January 8, 2010 at 8:41 AM 
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January 11, 2010 at 4:10 AM 

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