Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ignore This Post

You probably don't know that Board-Certified Homevideoneurodiagnostician Bill Frist has declared this to be "Health Week" in the Congress, because the corporate media, to their credit, have largely ignored it. The basic idea seems to be for the Republicans to move outrageous proposals that they know won't pass, in order to score points with some of their base constituencies. I was committed to joining in the mass movement to completely ignore this, but then I decided it might be instructive with respect to some recent topics to take a quick look.

The first thing they tried was to cap jury awards in malpractice suits. That didn't get the 60 votes it needed to break a Democratic filibuster. (And let's acknowledge the resurrection of the minority from the dead.) The malpractice system definitely has flaws, but excessive compensation to horribly injured people is not one of them. (Okay then, malpractice is now on the to-do list here.)

Now they have an even more nefarious proposal. Under cover of a bill to allow small businesses to form purchasing cooperatives across state lines, they want to override state regulations requiring that health insurance be comprehensive. The plans could be lower in cost because they wouldn't have to cover things like mammograms, well-child care, or even chronic disease care.

If you've been reading Stayin' Alive, you already know that one of the most pernicious consequences of our fragmented health insurance system is that insurers don't have an incentive to keep you healthy, because by the time you get sick, you probably won't be their problem any more. Therefore, while it saves society money to provide services like cancer screenings and immunizations, preventive care represents a cost to insurers that they might not recoup. That is why state regulations require that plans offer certain basic services. But now "Dr." Bill Frist wants to kill you, so that businesses can save money, and give some of it to Republican candidates.

You can read all about Sickness Week in Forbes. Or you can ignore it, which is what I recommend.

(Cross-posted on Stayin' Alive)


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