Message to Progressives:  The Horse Goes Before the Cart              

October 25, 2010

Let’s face it, the main problem with the Democratic Party is the unmitigated foolishness of our leaders.  That their hearts are essentially in the right place is hard to deny, but constantly putting the cart before the horse has led to the party’s repeated downfall.  All the hard work done by the true intelligentsia of the party, especially by Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel, electing moderate Democratic Congressmen and Senators in ‘06 and ‘08, people whose views coincide with 75-80% of all Americans, was wasted by ultra progressives!  Those very people who so graciously elevated her to House Speaker were summarily dismissed by Ms. Pelosi and the more rabid progressives as “traitors to the party.”

I am about as liberal as one can be.  I love the idea of national health care, the only system under which our country can survive in the international economic arena.  I love the idea of a public option, to me the most brilliant of all progressive ideas.  I love the concept of socialized medicine, paid for out of federal taxes, fairly and economically administered to all.  I am a health care professional who has never been asked a damn thing by my Democratic leaders, nor have they ever paid attention to one letter, e-mail or article out of the dozens sent to them.  I have studied health care and its most heinous problems for thirty years, laboriously for more than twenty.

I have sent registered letters, faxes, and donated money to progressive candidates and office holders, pleading with them to adopt a rational view toward health care reform.  In every instance I have appealed to deaf ears.  While I applaud Anthony Weiner and Bernie Sanders and their efforts to afford every American adequate health care, (overnight, without being able to pay for it) their way is not the way.  They did not even bother to address the far more than 100 billion dollars in deliberate overspending per year by Medicare.  This overspending, involving double and triple retail and other government negotiated prices represents out and out graft!  Medicare is the only governmental agency I know of, which is expressly forbidden to use its considerable millions of members to negotiate fair prices.  This is clearly not only unconstitutional and disgusting, but just as clearly a case of bipartisan graft.  How can these two heroic, but naive champions of the people think that a public option, run like Medicare and limited to the worst patients, will not bankrupt itself before it is even started?

In their eagerness to insure all Americans, Misters Weiner, Sanders and many other ultra progressives have even suggested extending Medicare to everyone.  Let’s see: 110 billion dollars (next year 130 billion with elimination of the Part D scam’s doughnut hole) for each 40 million members comes out to more than 880 billion dollars per year in overspending for 330 million American citizens.  Ms. Pelosi, let’s see you intimidate the poor beleaguered souls at the Congressional Budget Office into claiming that we will save 800 billion dollars in the next ten years instead of losing 8 trillion dollars with the extension of the program!

So many times I have begged progressives to please clean up Medicare and then open up a public option to everyone!  It is the only way the concept makes sense!  Progressives are far too ignorant about health care, woefully ignorant.  Worse yet, with all their admittedly justified banter about the “right” of all citizens to adequate health care, they pay no attention to the rights of the elderly.  A few years ago, I called the local office of the ACLU asking for their help in securing equal protection for seniors under the 14th Amendment.  I argued that not only were our most vulnerable citizens singled out as the one group denied the right by their own government to engage in competitive bidding, but they were also robbed of more than 2 trillion dollars in social security funds which they were duped into paying under completely false pretenses.  I was referred to another useless member of this once proud organization in the main office in Miami.  His suggestion was for me to file the brief myself, then perhaps he might take a look at it.  He must have been too busy figuring out how “free speech” and money are exactly the same thing.

In the same vein, it is foolish and probably unconstitutional to force people to purchase poor quality medical insurance, especially the horrendously over priced and inadequate product offered by private companies.  Adequate national health care has to be constructed first, then if it is truly fair, then and only then can it be mandated.  Thus, the way to “build” national health care and afford it, is to do it “one step at a time.”  Even progressives can live with well planned progress, while moderates as well as many conservatives can as well.  Clean up Medicare; prove it can be run effectively.  Adopt portability across state lines and compromise with some sort of token tort reform, then suggest a public option, open to everyone, one that will not bankrupt itself. If the insurance industry continues to gouge the public, then eventually almost all citizens will choose the public option if it is reasonably financed.

Eventually, if they are convinced it can work, most Americans will ask for socialized medicine, just as virtually all other free societies have thus far.  That is when it can be implemented.  Progressives must also realize that with a successful public option, we may end up with a mixed type of national health care similar to the systems in Switzerland or The Netherlands.  The journey will go much smoother if done with the horse in front of the cart- one step at a time.

Allen Finkelstein, D.O.