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Healthcare, Medicare and Socialism

I had conversation recently about “socialized” medicine, specifically Medicare. First off, anytime government is seen meddling in the healthcare system, it’s baaaaad. But Medicare is an exception because we paid into that our whole lives. Secondly, Democrats want to socialize medicine and this is also baaaad. But the proposed alternative, letting people buy policies across state lines, does not lead people to follow that proposal to its logical conclusions. Sure, BCBS might be cheaper in Alabama but if all your doctors are out of network, don’t you end up paying for that? Also, if everyone is buying cheap policies, then the sickest among us will gravitate to them. Pretty soon, the insurance company will need to raise rates to cover all of the sick people and they’re going to raise those rates on everyone. The one thing that could prevent that is cost control by negotiated prices. And that’s Medicare’s big advantage.

It seems that there is a misperception out there that Medicare, which everyone looks forward to, was passed by a Republican Congress and/or signed by a Republican president. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s an oldie but goodie post from 2011 that I wrote on the birth of Medicare based on a BBC Witness podcast episode. I relistened to the podcast today and forgot that Ronald Reagan played a role back then by scaring everyone that Medicare was “socialized” medicine that would remove their “choice”. He even hints that most elderly Americans aren’t being honest when they say they can’t afford their healthcare. What he didn’t say but probably thought was that the ones who really were too poor to afford medicine most likely deserved what was coming to them, what with all their profligate spending, bad life choices and not saving for their old age. You know, the same thing David Brooks thinks and writes every day.

Anyway, here is the post from back then in its entirety. The podcast is only 9 minutes long. It shows very conclusively that if you want to make structural changes in healthcare delivery in this country, you have to reduce the number of Republicans in Congress to less than a third of the representatives. We have been kidding ourselves if we think Republicans have only recently become harsher and meaner about healthcare for the poor and elderly. They’ve ALWAYS been like that.

Let’s repeat history and make their votes in Congress irrelevant.

Witness: The Birth of Medicare (BBC)

It’s funny that the BBC frequently does American history better than, well, Americans. Recently, the BBC4 program, Witness, did a podcast on the Great Society and the birth of Medicare. 

What I found interesting is that although LBJ was the president to sign the bill into law, the concept of Medicare was not a new one. It had been introduced into congress years earlier but had to wait until Democrats outnumbered Reoublicans by a ratio of roughly 2:1.

Think about that for a moment. In order to get the kinds of programs that theAmerican middle class actually likes, you have to reduce the number of Republicans in congress substantially. Conversely, when the number of Republicans reaches parity or exceeds it, these programs come under pressure for privatization and elimination. 

This is a concept that escapes most voters who routinely vote for Republicans but who actually like liberal programs like Medicare and social security. 

Check it out here: Witness- the Great Society and the birth of Medicare.


Personal update:

I am a very lucky person. My “thing” grew very rapidly back in January and was very aggressive. But the weed killer seems to have worked – even better than expected, according to the scans. There was a slight diversion and partial panic with one scan but it turned out to be nothing in the end. The nurse navigators were in awe and almost dancing with glee when they saw the new images. That doesn’t mean that this ordeal is over. It means I have surgery next, but it will most likely be outpatient, followed by some additional treatment. Then, I should be ok. So, keep your fingers crossed that this is the homestretch and I am going to win.

Thanks to all of you for your support.

Damn, I could really use that vacation.