By John A. Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
I am tired of hearing critics talk of how the Democratic healthcare plan is a massive socialistic plot to introduce government control of one sixth of the economy.
In the Sunday Business section of the Washington Post, Ezra Klein wrote a nifty column that puts the GOP Apocalypse Now scenarios in their Chicken Little place.
First off, Klein deconstructs the cost. The $900 billion price tag is for 10 years. That is $90 billion a year--a pittance in the U.S. economy--all of which will be covered by some sort of tax hikes on the wealthy, cuts in Medicare, or fees on those who refuse to get health insurance. No matter what you have heard, it won't add a dime to the deficit and, for most Americans, won't cost a cent.
For that $90 billion, middle-class taxpayers will get a safety net like the one that we already provide for the poor (Medicaid) and the elderly (Medicare). If we get downsized, or are self-employed, or the company goes belly up and we have to move to another firm and lose our insurance, there will be a federally-subsidized private insurance plan to fall back on.
Your insurance company will not be able to turn you away because of a pre-existing cancer, or heart disease, or other ailment. You won't be cut off if you get sick, and won't lose your home and your life savings to catastrophic costs. Drug prescriptions will be covered.
As I have argued here before, the bill will most immediately help Americans caught in the modern-mixed-economy trap: waitresses, clerks, construction workers, and the like who are busting their butts, unable to afford good coverage, but making too much to qualify for social welfare programs. And just what will it cost, percentagewise, to help those good folks? Well, as Klein points out, we spend $2.3 trillion a year on healthcare in this country, and $90 billion is about 4 percent of that: "In other words, a drop in the bucket."
By 2019, when the plan is up and running, it will have affected some 40 million Americans: 10 million who will buy insurance through the new program because it's cheaper, and 30 million who would otherwise have been uninsured. And "ninety percent of Americans will be exactly where they'd otherwise be."
So vote your conscience, or vote your wallet, but don't let the Chicken Littles scare you into thinking that the sky is falling.