Mandating Health Insurance: The Poor Have Too Much Money







I commend Hillary for the effort she has made with her new health care proposal. And I must give it to her that I have not had the opportunity to study it in great detail. I want to be able to read the original. But the fundamental premise of it is at some level offensive.

Mandating health insurance, how much sense does it make? The suggestion seems to be that the poor masses are sitting on piles of money, but instead of buying health insurance, they go ahead and spend it on beer and cigarettes. So the way to change that bad behavior would be make it illegal for them to not buy health insurance.

Granted she has talked of helping people with the money. What if you are given tax breaks? What if the government steps in and helps you out a little. Those good sounding suggestions sound like the voucher schemes the Republicans have for the schools in poor neighborhoods designed to pit the poor against the poor, and like Edwards' voucher scheme to help a few to vacate poor neighborhoods entirely. His cure for urban poverty is to help a few escape the neighborhood. See no evil is the cure to evil.

I get the impression Hillary has learned entirely the wrong lesson from her health care debacle in the early 1990s. She is reluctant to confront big pharma and the big dogs of the insurance industry.

Hillary's solution to the health care crisis seems to be give even more private and public money to the insurance companies. Make it the law of the land that the insurance companies must get richer.

She still does not understand that it is not particularl policy per se but the political style, the political methods used that will make positive change possible. Her proposal exhibits her lapse of judgment.

Edwards errs in the other direction. He makes it sound like he is going to nuke the insurance companies to get to universal insurance.

Barack has middle, sensible ground. With Hillary, the insurance companies get most of the chairs around the table. With Edwards, they get kicked out of the room. With Obama, the insurance companies get one of many chairs in the room.

That is one big reason Obama's health care plan is not too specific. It is evolving. He has a few basic benchmarks. But other than that he is open to listening to all parties concerned. He will take the stand, he will pick fights if he has to, but ultimately for him it is less about posturing or cowering, and more about actually getting the stuff done. He is serious about getting a solution.

Granted there are other positive details to what Hillary has put forth. But the central premise overclouds those good details. Go back to the drawing board, Hillary. Instead of surprising the people with a plan, she should make transparent the very process and the discussions that lead to her plan. She has repeated her 1993 mistake of doing seemingly big work in opaque ways.

The process is central to the possibility of a positive outcome. Hillary doesn't get it.

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