Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health Care Reform: One Argumentt -- Two Sets of Rules

Don't you just hate it when you are trying to understand an issue and someone comes along and starts talking about it -- but they're not really talking about it?  Instead, they're injecting a different topic into the conversation disguised as a position on the original topic?  It's like changing the rules in the middle of a game without telling the opponent.  The purpose, of course, is to derail the original discussion and get people talking about something else and never have to deal with the guts of the original.

The discussion was about health care reform.    Now Republican leaders are attempting to derail the conversation by introducing a senior health care bill of rights.  Republicans supposedly put this forward to ease seniors' concerns over health care "rationing" and cost-cutting under Medicare.  Now I wonder where that idea came from? 

"Under the Democrats' plan, senior citizens will pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced or rationed," according to Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, in an op-ed in Monday's Washington Post (subscription required to view most articles).  This is the same Michael Steele who, in 2006, called for cuts to Medicare to control runaway costs.   How convenient that the GOP has an answer ready to assuage seniors' fears, making a radical shift in position from 3 years ago.  How ironic that this "ready answer" deals with a concern that they created! 

In 2006, Steele felt that the way to reduce Medicare costs was to cut benefits to seniors.  In the current health care reform bill, H.R. 3200, Medicare costs are reduced by reduction of payments to providers.  Everyone seems to complain about runaway health care costs, but when there is a plan on the table to curb those rising costs while maintaining a level of coverage for vulnerable seniors, the Republication option is to derail the conversation. 

And that moves the discussion away from real health care reform.

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