Before we get started – Sunday, September 13, 2009. Fourth Quarter. Brady Quinn completed a 26 yard pass to Robert Royal for a touchdown. You may be wondering what this has to do with health insurance. The Browns offense hadn’t scored a regular season touchdown since last November which was driving Cleveland fans nuts. Since the President and his team have yet to discuss mental health, I want to help out where I can.
Anthony Weiner is a Congressman for New York City. He is a survivor, the kind of guy who seized the opportunities given to him and made the most of them. His story is the success side of any and all government programs designed to help people help themselves. Though I personally can’t relate to his upbringing or how it continues to impact his views on the issues, I respect his accomplishments.
Anthony Weiner hates me.
Well, not exactly. We’ve never met and probably never will. Congressman Weiner does, however, advocate for the elimination of all health insurance companies. As the health care debate heats up, you will find Mr. Weiner on such television programs as The Rachel Maddow Show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and even, occasionally, on a mainstream Sunday morning program. His article Giving Single-Payer a Second Look appeared September 7, 2009 on the Huffington Post.
His message, even if slightly exaggerated, is consistent. According to Mr. Weiner, the “United States already uses single-payer systems to cover over 47% of all medical bills through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veteran’s Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” He often takes time to tell us how happy everyone is under these various programs and usually includes the canard that Medicare has only 4% overhead compared to up to 30% the insurance industry has in profits and overhead.
Where do we begin? Let’s start with the 47% of us on a government run single payer system that proves that insurance is unnecessary. I won’t dwell on the easy stuff – the regular television expose’s of underfunding, waste, and despair that describes almost anything having to do with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Veteran’s Administration. I used to volunteer at the V.A. in University Circle, easily one of the most depressing places I’ve ever encountered.
To get to 47%, Congressman Weiner includes Medicaid, a collection of State run programs for the indigent that varies in quality from the almost acceptable to the down-right shameful. Underfunded even in a State like Ohio, Medicaid’s beneficiaries are treated to health care reserved for those on the lowest rung of society’s ladder. Women come to my office to purchase insurance in the hope of getting better care for their children even when they still qualify for Medicaid. Is that right? No! But the States, which means our elected representatives, which means us, have not shown the willingness to tax us sufficiently to provide top of the line health care for our poorest citizens. It is either a priority, or it is not.
Let’s talk about Medicare. I love my children, but I know what Jennifer and Phillip can do and what they can not. I also love Medicare. Congressman Weiner is well aware that much of Medicare’s overhead falls within other parts of the government’s budget. He is also well aware that even though Medicare underpays medical providers, there are real funding issues and that long-term viability is in question if changes aren’t made.
But there is still one issue that Congressman Weiner completely ignores. People are satisfied with Medicare because of private insurance. Senior citizens see Medicare as the combination of the government’s program and their Medicare Supplement policies. Eliminate the supplements and they would be faced with the deductibles, unpaid hospital days, 20% coinsurance, and total exposure to the high cost of prescription medication. Senior citizens are very satisfied with Medicare Advantage policies, the private insurance option Mr. Weiner and the President hope to terminate. Medicare, without the supplements, without the prescription drug benefit, would have very few fans.
Anthony Weiner may hate private insurance, but his constituents still need us.