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Why Obama Will Win: Part 1

John McCain's website on the number one or two (depending on your poll) issue troubling Americans:

Families should be in charge of their health care dollars and have more control over their care. We can improve health and spend less, while promoting competition on the cost and quality of care, taking better care of our citizens with chronic illness, and promoting prevention that will keep millions of others from ever developing deadly and debilitating disease.

Um. What? Does that mean anything to you? How about this:

Make patients the center of care and give them a larger role in both prevention and care, putting more decisions and responsibility in their hands.

And that means what, exactly? Anyone? How about:

We must do more to take care of ourselves to prevent chronic diseases when possible, and do more to adhere to treatment after we are diagnosed with an illness.

Childhood obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are all on the rise. We must again teach our children about health, nutrition and exercise - vital life information.

Public health initiatives must be undertaken with all our citizens to stem the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and to deter smoking.

So the federal government's going after fat kids? The federal government's going to make sure you take your pills? The Republicans will foster a nanny state attack on lifestyle issues like smoking? Everyone who believes that, raise your hand. What? No one?

Support innovative delivery systems, such as clinics in retail outlets and other ways that provide greater market flexibility in permitting appropriate roles for nurse practitioners, nurses, and doctors.

Where cost-effective, employ telemedicine, and community and mental health clinics in areas where services and providers are limited.

And in what way do either of those have to do with the federal government? Is the federal government outlawing clinics in malls? I must have missed that. Kinda think that's all at the state and local level.

Protect the health care consumer through vigorous enforcement of federal protections against collusion, unfair business actions, and deceptive consumer practices.

Yes, because when you think "vigorous enforcement" of regulations on industry, you think GOP.

I'm being a little unfair. There are one or two substantive suggestions. Here's the one a Republican would actually try to pass:

Pass tort reform to eliminate frivolous lawsuits and excessive damage awards. Provide a safe harbor for doctors that follow clinical guidelines and adhere to patient safety protocols.

In other words, if your doctor kills you, he shouldn't have to worry about being sued.

Here's my personal favorite:

Promote competition throughout the health care system - between providers and among alternative treatments.

Exsqueeze me? Alternative treatments? Are we talking crystals here?

Read McCain on health care and health insurance and you get bromides and bullshit, with the only honest portions having to do with more tax cuts to help people who don't particularly need the help, and of course protection for incompetent doctors.

Here's a portion of the health care section on the Obama site:

Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress. The Obama plan will have the following features:

Guaranteed eligibility. No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.

Affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Subsidies. Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.

Whether you like the McCain approach, or the Obama approach, I think it's hard to dispute the fact that McCain's high-school-kid-stretching-to-reach-a
-thousand-words-for-the-term-paper approach to health care is at least 90% straight-talk-free. It means, in effect, nothing. Nothing substantive will be done to deal with this most pressing of issues. If you're one of those people having a hard time keeping up on your medical bills, worried you'll lose your insurance, McCain isn't too reassuring, is he? Especially in a shaky economy?

You may not like Obama's approach, but it is something. It is not nothing. It is a change. It is not the same old same old. If you're worried about going bankrupt when your kid gets asthma, or your wife gets breast cancer, or you suffer a stroke, Obama has an actual, substantive solution. Whereas McCain limits his reassurance to doctors.

So, Obama is the "empty suit" and McCain's the serious thinker. Yeah?

Let's put the respective plans before middle class, $60,000 a year, working families in Pennyslvania, Ohio and Florida. (Just to pick three, um, random states.) Who do you think they'll consider the more serious, substantive candidate? Which plan do you think they'll like better? The one where they are allowed to save some tax free money they don't have, in a special savings account that's already available, so that they can use the 3 or 4 grand they might manage to scrape together over a decade of scrimping, to marginally slow their descent into medically-induced bankruptcy? Or the one where no matter what happens, their kids get in to a see a doctor?

McCain supporters need to realize something: it's not 1993 anymore. Harry and Louise and hysterical accusations about socialized medicine aren't going to work this time around. Fifteen years have passed, and we've had medical savings accounts, and we've had 8 years of GOP dominance, and guess what? People are less likely to have adequate health insurance now than they did then. Obama proposes, in effect, extending the Congressional system to regular Americans. Let's hear John McCain explain why it's good for him and the millionaires in Congress, but wouldn't be good for a working mother in New Jersey.

McCain on health care? Empty rhetoric. Obama on health care? An actual plan. An actual plan that actual people can actually understand.

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“Why Obama Will Win: Part 1”

  1. Blogger Alan Stewart Carl Says:

    You've hit on the #1 problem I have with McCain. His healthcare plan is basically "eh, it's not so bad the way it is." Will that be enough to make me change my mind and vote Democrat? Maybe. It's a long time until November.

    However, as the spouse of a physician, I can tell you my self interests are often in voting Republican. Why? Because as long as the trial lawyers have such huge pull over the Democrats I can't trust them not to make it WAY too easy to sue competent doctors. That's a major problem -- careers are ruined by lawyers who convince a jury that a completely unavoidable death was caused by a physician.

    Republicans may err on protecting incompetent doctors (who SHOULD be sued) but at least they don't actively create conditions that ruin or at least greatly complicate the careers of good doctors. Avoiding a unfair lawsuit is a primary concern for physicians and because there are so many stupid lawsuits, the system is burdeoned with extra costs and beurocracy.

    Of course, since I'm a freelancer and my wife owns her own small business, we have really shitty health insurance. So I'm predisposed to want a president who recognizes that major changes are needed. Hopefully McCain will be pressured to offer more than the usualy Republican "do nothing" stance.

  2. Blogger bucyrus Says:

    I think you made a great case here Mike. You gonna echo this over at poligazette?

    I think it's gone unremarked upon so far that McCain is far from being a wonk. He'sn o lightweight or empty suit, of course. But neither is he a comprehensive policy guy. If he's elected, I get the feeling he's most excited about the commander-in-chief part of the job, and will be prone to signing whatever mess congress passes on issues where he's not really that engaged. Or just veto it if the whole GOP comes yelling at the door.That's generally one of his bad tendencies.

  3. Blogger Two Dogs Says:

    While I disagree with federalized healthcare, there is one glaring problem with the financing of Barry Obama's plan, he says that he will pay for it by allowing to expire, the tax cuts on the people making over 250k a year. Those tax cuts INCREASED federal revenue. How does he propose to DECREASE revenue and offer more expenditures? He must be magic.

  4. Blogger amba Says:

    In regard to what Alan said, malpractice insurance premiums are so high that it's driving people away from medicine as a profession.

  5. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    I agree there's a real problem with medical malpractice insurance. I think it would go a long way to helping solve the problem if doctor's groups more aggressively policed themselves. But I do think we need to put up some limits on frivolous malpractice suits.

  6. Blogger Two Dogs Says:

    Anyone want to posit a guess how to reduce the cost of medical malpractice insurance or is there simply a collective opinion that universal healthcare is a good idea?

    And if Barry reduces the amount of revenue entering the system, how can he offer more expenditures? That kinda contradicts logic.