Healthcare Reform: The Republican Problem

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Paul Krugman writes (Bizarro Health Reform Arguments):

As health reform moves to its final, make or break vote... Republicans are still denouncing it as a vast, evil government takeover. But they have a problem: Obamacare is very much like the Massachusetts health reform, which was not only implemented by a Republican governor, but by a governor who is a serious contender for the 2012 presidential nomination. So they insist that the two plans have nothing in common — but the only real difference they can point to is that Massachusetts didn’t fund its plan in part out of Medicare savings....

[T]hink about this a bit more: Republicans are saying that what makes Obamacare a socialist takeover, whereas Romneycare wasn’t, is the fact that unlike Romney’s plan, Obama’s plan cuts government spending.


The United States’s health care system right now wastes about $1,000,000,000,000 a year, in that we spend much more money than other North Atlantic economies and yet have a health care system that does rather less on average to cure disease and ensure long and healthy lives. $400,000,000,000 a year of this comes from higher doctors’ salaries in the U.S. relative to average wages in the country. $300,000,000,000 a year of this comes from unnecessary, inappropriate, ineffective, and positively harmful care prescribed by doctors who fear malpractice liability, have sweetheart deals with those entities with which they subcontract, or simply do not know what treatment protocols are worth doing. $300,000,000,000 a year is spent in administration as insurance companies play the game of trying to pass the costs of paying for treatment of the sick off to somebody else.

When he was Governor of Massachusetts, Republican politician Mitt Romney constructed--and passed with bipartisan support--a health care plan. Now Barack Obama has thrown his weight behind a Senate health care bill that is, in its essentials, Mitt Romney’s health care plan.

Yet this plan may well not pass because it will not get a single Republican vote in the Senate--even though the only reason the new Republican Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, can think of for voting against it is that it doesn’t do anything for the voters of Massachusetts because Mitt Romney already got them everything it does.

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