20 Aug More Health Care Musings
Wall St. Journal: John Mackey: The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
The Whole Foods CEO advocates health savings accounts, high-deductible insurance plans, competition across state lines, tort reform, and offering easy access to make a charitable donation through the federal government to fund the uninsured, among other suggestions.
Mackey’s Op-Ed has caused quite a furor, with many Whole Foods enthusiasts clamoring for a boycott and demanding he recant. Not surprising, given the typical demographics of the Whole Foods crowd.
The Massachusetts health care system implemented under Romney is seen as “ObamaCare” without the public option. The biggest criticism is that it hasn’t put a dent in rising health care costs—that it’s costing taxpayers a ton of money—but Romney points out (probably rightly) that this is a battle that would need to be fought at the national level. Not much in terms of theoretical discussion here, but a few interesting points for a state that has implemented some elements of health care reform in an effort to cover everyone.
FinancialTimes: Healthcare paranoia is part of America’s culture war
This piece by Edward Luce makes an outstanding point that the health care debate is really not understood at the level of the populace, which tends to take a mob mentality swayed by labels and stereotypes. He cites Richard Hofstadter to say:
America, [Hofstadter] pointed out, was a relatively rootless society, which meant that anyone suffering from economic or status anxiety, particularly its struggling white middle classes, was particularly susceptible to the politics of scapegoating. Although also exhibited on the American left – think of the indefatigable Noam Chomsky, who sees a conspiracy under every rock, or Ralph Nader, the former consumer activist who believes corporations run everything – Hofstadter saw the paranoid style mostly as a right-wing phenomenon.
His theory holds up very well in 2009. Anyone who visits a few of this month’s rowdy town hall meetings can grasp that opposition to Mr Obama’s healthcare proposals is a lightning rod to a far larger world view, which seeks to protect American values and the US constitution from an alien takeover.
Washington Post: Steven Pearlstein—Time to Give Up on the Public Option
Pearlstein observes that the public option has become:
“… nothing more than a political litmus test imposed on the debate by left-wing politicians and pundits who don’t want to be bothered with the real-life dynamics of the health-care market. It is the Maginot Line of health-care policy, and just like those stubborn French generals, liberal Democrats have vowed to defend it even if it means losing the war. …
The public option has become for the left what “death panels” have become for the right — an easily understood metaphor that can be used to wage an ideological war over the issue of Big Government, and mostly a sideshow.”
The article effectively makes the same point as Luce’s Financial Times piece: the main parts of the present battle isn’t really over health care at all, but has become a pawn in the large political game. Some good other points here, as well, especially about the problems of competition and monopolies in the health care sector, and how to deal with the cost problems—a process, he says, that does not require a public option. Some interesting points to consider here for both sides.
Foreign Policy: The Most Outrageous U.S. lies About Global Healthcare
A good bit of de-bunking going on here, looking at several distortions and outright lies perpetrated by both sides in the health care debate when referencing the situation abroad as per health insurance. Thanks to Jeff Paal for pointing me to this one.