Monday, September 8, 2008

A bitter pill to swallow: Health care is AWOL in Sarah's speech

It's taken 5 days and over 40 blog posts to debunk the many lies and distortions from Sarah Palin's acceptance speech. Palin spoke for about 45 minutes, hurling insults and unfounded accusations and offering general platitudes about what a McCain-Palin administration would do (i.e. continue Bush's failed policies).

What's striking about her speech is what she didn't talk about. Not once did Palin mention health care. Not once. Easily one of the biggest crises facing our country, health care didn't warrant a mention - yet she found time to denigrate community organizers twice.

I can understand why Palin didn't want to talk about health care in front of 38 million people. McCain & Palin's views on the subject are contrary to what the majority of Americans believe -- the health care system is irretrievably broken.

Over 54.5 million people were uninsured for at least part of the year in 2007, and the number of uninsured are rising every year. The U.S. is ranked #37 as a health system by the World Health Organization, even though we spend a higher portion of our gross domestic product on health care than any other country.

The McCain-Palin ticket supports a market-driven system - the same dysfunctional system that has monumentally failed while driving up costs and excluding more than half of the population. They like to paint Obama's plan as something akin to 'socialized' medicine with spooky undercurrents of Marxism and the like.

Here is the gist of McCain's health plan:
  • Put patients be in control of their choices (although most have no choice because they either can't afford insurance or they are denied coverage)
  • Offer families a refundable tax credit - effectively cash - of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Essentially, McCain's plan treats employer-sponsored health benefits as taxable income, while giving individuals/families a tax credit for the insurance they buy. So those with employer-sponsored coverage will pay taxes on the value of health care benefits they receive from their employers. Families won't receive a windfall of $5,000, the credit they receive will more or less offset the increased taxes they'll pay.
  • Make insurance 'portable' so it follows you from job-to-job (no specifics whatsoever on how that will be accomplished)
  • Encourage and expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for families (these high-deductible plans typically provide fewer benefits at higher costs)
According to a recent analysis by the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, McCain’s plan would cover fewer than 10 percent of Americans without health insurance (Obama's covers close to 50%). The study also found that Obama’s plan costs far less per person to get people covered. McCain’s plan would cost $1.3 trillion over ten years, slightly less than Obama's plan, which is estimated to cost $1.6 but will cover tens of millions more.

Tthe Urban/Brookings analysis by the Economic Policy Institute concludes:

“Senator Obama's plan provides far greater ‘bang-for-the-buck,’ spending far less per capita for its coverage of the uninsured population.”

No wonder Sarah didn't mention health care in her speech. If you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig - even if the messenger is a self-proclaimed lipstick-wearing political pitbull.

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