Healthcare In America Is Already ‘The Best In The World’
This was posted in 2014 and it still applies today. Please let me know what you think of universal healthcare and why. Shirley
One of the more positive sounding admonitions from health care reform opponents was that the United States had “the best health care in the world,” so why would you mess with it? Well, it’s true that if you want the experience the pinnacle of medical care, you come to the United States. And if you want the pinnacle of haute cuisine, you go to Per Se. If you want the pinnacle of commercial air travel, you get a first-class seat on British Airways. Now, naturally, you wouldn’t let just anyone mess with someone’s tasting menu or state-of-the-art air-beds. But like anything that’s “the best,” the best health care in the world isn’t for everybody. The costs are prohibitively high, the access is prohibitively exclusive, and the resources are prohibitively scarce.
What do the people in America who “fly coach” in the health care system get? Well, at the time of the health care reform debate, they were participating in a system that was, by all objective measurements, overpriced and underperforming — if you were lucky enough to be participating in it. As anyone who’s fortunate enough to have employer based health care or unfortunate enough to have a pre-existing condition can tell you, health care for ordinary people already involved all of those things that we were told would be a feature of the Affordable Care Act — long waits, limited choice, and rationing.
When the Commonwealth Fund rated health care systems by nation, the top marks in the surveyed categories went to the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Ezra Klein examined the study, and observed:
“The issue isn’t just that we don’t have universal health care. Our delivery system underperforms, too. ‘Even when access and equity measures are not considered, the U.S. ranks behind most of the other countries on most measures. With the inclusion of primary care physician survey data in the analysis, it is apparent that the U.S. is lagging in adoption of national policies that promote primary care, quality improvement, and information technology.'”
The only thing that perhaps matched the vastness of the spread or the depth of the traction of the “death panel” lie was the predictability that such a lie would come to be told in the first place. After all, this was a Democratic president trying to sell a new health care reform plan with the intention of opening access and reducing cost to millions of Americans who had gone without for so long. What’s the best way to counter it? Tell everyone that millions of Americans would have increased access … to Death!
The best account of how the “death panel” myth was born into this world and spread like garbage across the landscape has been penned by Brendan Nyhan, who in 2010 wrote “Why the “Death Panel” Myth Wouldn’t Die: Misinformation in the Health Care Reform Debate.” You should go read the whole thing.
But to summarize, the lie began where many lies about health care reform begin — with serial liar Betsy McCaughey, who in 1994 polluted the pages of the New Republic with a staggering pile of deception in an effort to scuttle President Bill Clinton’s health care reform. As Nyhan documents, she re-emerged in 2009 when “she invented the false claim that the health care legislation
in Congress would result in seniors being directed to ‘end their life sooner.'”
Nyhan: “McCaughey’s statement was a reference to a provision in the Democratic health care bill that would have provided funding for an advanced care planning for Medicare recipients once every five years or more frequently if they become seriously ill. As independent fact-checkers showed (PolitiFact.com 2009b; FactCheck.org 2009a), her statement that these consultations would be mandatory was simply false–they would be entirely voluntary. Similarly, there is no evidence that Medicare patients would be pressured during these consultations to “do what’s in society’s best interest…and cut your life short.”
But the match that lit the death panel flame was not McCaughey, it was Sarah Palin, who repeated McCaughey’s claims in a Facebook posting and invented the term “death panel.” As Nyhan reports, Palin’s claims were met with condemnation from independent observers and factcheckers, but the virality of the term “death panel” far outstripped its own debunking. To this day, the shorthand for this outrageous falsehood remains more firmly planted in the discourse than the truth.
One thing worth pointing out is that Palin, in creating the term “death panel,” intended to deceive people with it. In an interview with the National Review, Palin admitted: “The term I used to describe the panel making these decisions should not be taken literally.” Rather, it was “a lot like when President Reagan used to refer to the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire.’ He got his point across.” Of course, while Reagan was exaggerating for effect, he wasn’t trying to prey on the goodwill of those who were listening to him.
he Affordable Care Act Is A “Jobs-Killer”
Naturally, the GOP greeted anything that the Obama White House did — from regulating pollution to flossing after meals — as something that would “kill jobs.” The Affordable Care Act was no different. As you might recall, Republicans’ first attempt at repeal came in the form of an inartfully named law called the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” But did the health reform plan threaten jobs? Not by any honest measure. Per McClatchy Newspapers:
“The claim has no justification,” said Micah Weinberg, a senior research fellow at the centrist New America Foundation’s Health Policy Program.
Since the law contains dual mandates that most individuals must obtain health insurance coverage and most employers must offer it by 2014, “the effect on employment is probably zero or close to it,” said Amitabh Chandra, a professor of public policy at Harvard University.
As McClatchy reported, the “job-killing” claim creatively used the “lie of omission” — relying on “out of date” data or omitting “offsetting information that would weaken the argument.” The Congressional Budget Office, playing it straight, deemed it essentially too premature to measure what the effect the bill would have on the labor market. At the time, Speaker John Boehner dismissed the CBO, saying, “CBO is entitled to their opinion.”
Perhaps, but lately, job growth in the health care industry has bucked the economic downturn and health care has remained a robust sector of employment. And it stands to reason that enrolling another 30 million Americans into health insurance will increase the demand for health care services and products, which in turn should trigger the creation of more jobs.
Is there a downside? Sure. More demand, and greater labor costs, could push health care prices upward even as other effects of health reform push them down. But it’s more likely that repealing the bill will have a negative impact on jobs than retaining it.