Solving the Healthcare Enigma

February 1, 2011

After writing scores of articles and letters, after many heated discussions and arguments with progressives, I have found one thing to be painfully clear.  Impatient ultra liberals, in their excitement and eagerness to pass healthcare reform did almost no homework on the subject! Knowing full well that the ideal vehicle for national healthcare is, indeed, extension of Medicare, they did literally nothing to clean up the massive and unacceptable waste in the program.  For Anthony Weiner and Bernie Sanders to call the program the best and least wasteful health insurance program available is a cruel and stupid joke at best.  All they are saying is that Medicare’s bureaucracy does not take out a share of the profits (as much as 40% of gross input) as private insurance companies do.  No, instead, that extra 30-40% goes to drug companies, pharmacies, durable goods and oxygen suppliers, medical laboratories, illicit hospital and outpatient costs.

Because I am in favor of a single payer system as the ultimate solution to national healthcare, but I find the way Ms. Pelosi and the progressives handled healthcare reform sickening and grossly incompetent, some have accused me of being an enigma.  I am not the enigma!  The enigma is rather how Democrats and Republicans can pass healthcare reform that does not tick off their respective lobbies.  What would Insurance companies, Phrma (the drug lobby) and foreign manufacturers think if their Republican benefactors actually provided affordable healthcare to the American worker resulting in  a few thousand dollars in savings per car for an American auto manufacturer?  And, what would those poor durable goods providers, oxygen companies, and medical labs have to say to their Democratic benefactors?  Imagine how difficult it would be for these poor souls to charge actual retail prices, anywhere from one fourth to one tenth of what they currently charge “the most efficient medical insurance program there is?”

If I sound unbelievably angry, it is because I am.  The level of audacity or ignorance or stupidity or of sheer evil inherent in both parties is absolutely appalling!  How many times did I rant about the uncontitutionality of mandated private insurance?  Mandating purchase of clearly horrible, massively overpriced health insurance merely to avoid punishment is as clear a case of racketeering as there is!  As I have tried to tell progressives so many times, mandated health insurance can only be paid through taxes!  I am not a lawyer, just a small town family doctor employing elementary logic.  Most of our legislators seem to be arrogant, poorly educated attorneys who are too lazy to do their homework!  Not only do they know almost nothing about healthcare, they know almost as little about law!  Did they forget to include severability in their incompetent healthcare package or did they do it on purpose?  It’s like watching baseball: did the umpire blow the call on purpose or is he just unbelievably inept?

Meanwhile, the Republican Party and 26 of their equally despicable state attorneys general, instead of attacking mandatory private healthcare as racketeering, claim that because total control of insurance has been quite stupidly ceded to the states, only the states are allowed to extort insurance payments from unwilling victims.  How comforting: patriotic Republicans want to restrict racketeering only to the states!

Meanwhile, instead of cleaning up our only legitimate single payer system and making it presentable to the American people, progressives want to “trick” Republicans into having to accept the wonderful Medicare program as it is.  Let’s see.  If Medicare wastes between one hundred and one hundred fifty billion dollars per year on some forty three million members,  how much would we waste on three hundred thirty five million patients?  Considering that the average population is less sick than the average Medicare patient, let’s say that the system would waste only eighty billion dollars per forty million patients.  This still means at least six hundred and seventy billion dollars a year in overpayments to those same hyenas, those same overpaid companies currently feeding at the government trough.  That is almost seven trillion dollars in fraudulent overpayments in the next ten years, even ignoring population growth, isn’t it?  Cat got your tongue, Mr. Weiner? Mr. Sanders? Ms. Pelosi?  How about an answer?

Wait a minute.  I have an idea.  In fact, I have a brilliant idea!  As an intelligent compromise, let’s create a public option!  This would constitute legitimate competition for the insurance industry and give them a chance to survive, to see if they really can provide affordable, decent healthcare coverage.  The only real problem is that if it is set up by all of those incompetent Congressmen and Senators who haven’t been able to clean up Medicare, if it is run by the same incompetent bureaucracy that is helping to destroy Medicare, if it pays two to ten times as much as retail to those same hungry scavengers who prey on Medicare...  The fate of a public option cannot be left in the hands of these wretches, can it?  Time and time again they have made promises: just wait til we get in...  What the hell were they doing for those eight worthless years of the child-king’s reign.  While some of us were studying about healthcare, they sucked their thumbs, let the child-king play in his waste and cried “we can do better than you!”

Thank you progressives, but having your hearts in the right place is no substitute for having your heads in the right place!  I too am a progressive.  I believe that a well thought out single payer system would appeal so strongly to a majority of Americans, that even the Republican party would not be able to deny it to them.  The reconciliation bill passed by both Houses is a fiscally irresponsible potpourri of dissociated ideas, some good, some bad and some nonsensical.  Unfortunately it is all we have and even that is in danger.  If you have to do it again and you don’t have the guts to insult your precious lobbies, do us all a favor: don’t do us any more favors!

Allen Finkelstein, D.O.