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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

MN DFL health care plan

Posted by: Hammer / 1:56 PM

From today's Star Tribune (though I first saw the item on Minnesota Politics):
Saying they want to make health insurance more accessible, House DFLers on Monday proposed allowing small businesses and the self-employed to buy into state government medical coverage in an effort to reduce insurance costs.

The legislators said their bill would allow small firms, workers and their families and the self-employed to save between 5 percent and 31 percent on the cost of health insurance while obtaining better coverage. ...

A spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the DFL plan failed to address the core problem of rising health care costs for everyone. Brian McClung also said that adding new and potentially high-risk individuals to the state program could raise costs.

You know it's a good plan when the two best arguments against it are:
  1. It doesn't miraculously cure one of society's greatest and growing ills
  2. People who need health insurance might actually buy it
Access to health care is the biggest issue facing middle class Americans today. The American poor work hard everyday just hoping to have the Hammer family's right to complain each Fall that premiums are up and coverage is down. Again. The DFLers have a plan that will help some people afford health insurance. It doesn't solve the underlying issue, but it's a hell of a lot better idea than malpractice caps.

I'm not sure what McClung is advocating, other than perhaps a feudal state where we are all serfs to our health insurance overlords and ├╝berladies. The whole point of insurance is to spread wide the risks. We all pay a little more rather than face the risk of trying to fund disastrously high medical costs through an extra job at Wal-Mart. McClung seems to be saying that people who get sick ought not be allowed to participate in insurance plans, because they drive up costs for everyone else. For example, McClung won't have to pay for his heart, brain, and soul transplants out of his own pocket: the guy who works across the hall will gladly foot a small portion of that bill.

Still, McClung's solution has a certain Swiftian elegance to it. Force small businesses and the self-employed to drop health insurance coverage. Some of the newly uninsured will face catastrophic health care costs. Under the new bankruptcy regime being marched in by Republicans who value CEOs worried about liability for defrauding investors more than the troops in combat and the Democrats who don't believe in anything enough to fight back, the sick will never be able to crawl out from under their debt. The sick can be moved to "communities" where they can perform whatever tasks their weakened bodies can manage in exchange for a small reduction in the outstanding debt. By continuing to deny access to health care and demanding grueling work production, we can drive down life expectancies to such a point that Social Security funding solves itself!

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