The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Friday, September 17, 2004

HEALTH CARE - Bush Leads with his Chin!

Today's New York Times carries an article that the campaigns clashed on health care Thursday.

Bush Says Kerry Is Pushing Nationalized Health Care

I think that the Bush Campaign has made a huge tactical mistake attacking Kerry's health care plan. I really don't think Republicans understand how this issue works politically. I remember this from when I worked in Pennsylvania in 1991 for Harris Wofford, a little known man who was elected entirely on the health care issue. Pennsylvania. HELLO. Can you say 'crucial battleground state?' Republican candidate Dick Thornburgh kept attacking Wofford, saying "he wants to create a huge government bureaucracy and raise your taxes."

And the voters kept moving to Wofford. Wofford was 40 points down in July and won by about 6 or 8 percentage points. Against Dick Thornburgh? Popular former governor and sitting Attorney General?

The thing is, any time the discussion moves to health care, any time we are talking about health care instead of Iraq and Vietnam, Democrats win. We set the agenda. We dominate the debate. People trust us. Certainly more than them.

I see this as a golden opportunity. Bush is leading with his chin. I think they got ahead of themselves this week and are looking for a landslide so they are moving into Kerry-leaning states and moving to issues aimed at attracting moderates. Again, I think this is a major mistake. Nationalized Health Care only scares people in Washington. People out here are desperate for someone to do something. Last year my premiums went up 50%. And my employer contribution stayed flat. This year they went up 15%. And this was considered a victory because they came in under the state average. Who knows what is in store for next year. But I will bet money they aren't coming down. Kerry doesn't even have to support nationalized health care.

All he has to do is say:

"This has been a problem for 20 years. And Republicans have done nothing about it except stonewall and obstruct every major reform that has been proposed. They even spent the last 8 years opposing the Patient's Bill of Rights! A simple law to protect honest Americans from predatory HMO's that would deny you care when you need it. Now they would have you think that they plan to do something about the problems honest Americans experience everyday with the health care system.

"Finding out that your health care costs are going up more than your paycheck. Finding out that your health insurance won't cover that medication your doctor just prescribed. Finding out that the health insurance company won't approve that surgery you need, won't let you go see the specialist you need, won't reimburse you for the bills you paid out of pocket, won't cover that problem you have.

"George Bush wants you to think that frivolous law suits are the cause of all our problems. That fixing this will fix everything. But the Congressional Budget Office, a research office staffed and headed by Republican appointees, has estimated that malpractice claims represent less than 2% of what we spend on health care. Even if Bush's reforms passed and they worked, it would knock off less than a half of one percent from what we spend over all. A Harvard study showed that malpractice claims don't even affect the practice of medicine. They don't make it more expensive. And besides, how would you like to be a patient in a system where a doctor says - why run the test? It's not like she can sue me if we kill her right?

"It's long past time that this nation got serious about fixing what's wrong with our health care system and protecting what's right. And who do you trust to do that? The Republicans? Or do you want to elect the Party that has been pushing for something to be done since the Second World War?"

WOW. I have myself so fired up, we could even win back the House with this issue. Let the fight be joined.

I hope the Kerry folks don't miss this opportunity. Bush's convention speech mentioned making health care part of his vision of an ownership society. Of breaking the link between employment and health care. If Kerry draws him out on that it's only gonna be good. What does Bush mean? People can't depend on their employer for health care anymore. Health insurance for a family of four costs an average of $10,000 a year. We have to pay that out of our own pocket now? EXCUSE ME? Can you say DEMOCRATIC LANDSLIDE?