Bad health

Pretty depressing column in The Billings Gazette today by U.S. Sen. (and physician) John Barrasso, R-Wyo. (I’m not linking to Lee Enterprises websites because of the paywall problem, but you should be able to find the column in the Sunday opinion pieces).

Barrasso is rooting for the Supreme Court to knock down the Affordable Care Act, which, he says, would allow Republicans to “lead on this important issue.” So what would Republicans do, given a clean slate and legislative majorities?

Not much, apparently. Barrasso list three things:

1. Allow insurance companies to sell across state lines.

2. “Restore [Americans'] freedom to make their own health care decisions.”

3. “End junk lawsuits,” presumably with nationwide tort reform.

Barrasso doesn’t mention that Point 1 interferes with the states’ 10th Amendment powers to manage their own affairs. Or that Point 3 not only interferes with citizens’ rights to seek redress of grievances but also, according to accounts I’ve seen, would have a very minor effect on costs. Point 2, so far as I can tell, means nothing at all.

Barrasso isn’t unaware that health care problems exist. He says the country will face a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015. He says that nearly half of all doctors won’t treat patients on Medicaid because of low reimbursement rates.

What would he do to fix these problems? Not a darn thing, or at least nothing he mentions in his article. The much larger problems — the millions of uninsured, the crippling costs of health care, the steady decline in employer-provided coverage — aren’t even mentioned. Unfortunately, this is all standard Republican rhetoric on this issue: sell insurance across state lines, enact tort reform, and try not to get sick.

You don’t have to like Obamacare to realize that it is the only game going. Maybe it will never work, but the Republican alternative is nothing. We already know how well that works.

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