• Preparing for the blame game
     | August 02,2013

    The recent editorial on Vermont’s upcoming health care experiment proves yet again that there is no objective, unbiased journalism left in the Times Argus organization. The paper no longer makes any effort to interject the least bit of scrutiny into its pontification on behalf of the latest Democratic schemes or scandals.

    In this latest sophomoric blather, we are coached like little children to “Get ready,” “Pay attention,” “State government has a message for you,” and “You will hear the message over and over again in the coming weeks.”

    The editorial compares Vermont Health Connect, the first steps toward Shumlincare/Obamacare, to Social Security, Medicare and (later in the editorial) the New Deal.

    What great news and great comparisons. Let’s think about these comparisons for a moment:

    Firstly, Social Security, the pension fund that was supposed to be funded by employers and employees equally; however, when Lyndon Johnson found it inconvenient to raise taxes to fund his Vietnam War, the federal government began borrowing from the then-massive trust fund replacing real dollars with worthless (non-interest-bearing) promissory notes until all the reserves were taken.

    Secondly, Medicare, once again an employee- and employer-financed insurance fund to provide for the medical expenses of elderly and disabled participants; of course the politicians couldn’t stand to see the substantial reserve funds sitting there for anticipated future liabilities, so they created Medicaid, a health care program for the poor improperly paid for out of the Medicare Trust Fund.

    Thirdly, as every schoolchild knows, the New Deal did little to bring the nation out of the Great Depression. It was the industrial expansion to supply the military needs of the Second World War that returned America to economic health.

    So are they telling us that Shumlincare/Obamacare will turn out to be yet another bankrupt government debacle?

    The editorial tells us that, while the new Vermont Health Connect is going to be the greatest, most will not be required to participate — exempt are those who work for companies with more than 50 employees “(these employees) probably will continue to receive health care coverage as you are now.”

    That is unless your employer correctly fears impending massive premium increases, as insurers begin to see their pool of participants dwindle, and decides to cut or eliminate coverage or looks for loopholes in the program that encourage employers to reduce employees to part-time hours, lessening their health care liabilities. Now state workers and most union members, Democratic mainstays, need not worry as they are exempt from participation.

    So who is left for this experiment: the self-employed, the underemployed, those who work for small employers, the poor who currently participate in the Catamount plans. Good to see that most of the Democrats’ supporters will be spared the trials and travails of negotiating the new bureaucratic health care rubicon.

    But, wait, this is phase one. Soon your universal health care will be administered by the federal government, not by health and social services as one would expect, but by the Internal Revenue Service. What could go wrong here?

    Next we are told that the cost of all of this wonderment “has already cost (Vermonters) over $200 million … and may cost over $427 million over the next five years.” Don’t worry, the federal government has promised to pick up most of the tab. (Where do they think the feds are getting that money from?)

    There is more: “… the new (health care) system is expected to curb the rising health care cost while expanding access to health care” and “if it works, it will be one of the most significant social reforms in a generation.”

    Who said anything about social reforms? I thought we were trying to improve health care.

    The propaganda reaches a crescendo when we are informed: “With Obamacare on the brink of success, Republicans are … trying to make it fail.” It goes on: “They say you cannot argue with success, but Republicans are doing so. But in trying to make Obamacare fail, they are also arguing against the actual health of the American people.”

    What success? We have no idea what this new health care will provide in the future (degree or quality of service); universal health care doesn’t sound like personalized, individual care — most probably it will be standardized, one-size-fits-all, assembly line treatment by disinterested technicians, distinctly different from what Vermonters have come to expect.

    “Doctor” Shumlin and his health care team have failed to present concrete cost or revenue figures and it appears will not do so until after the election next year (so we will continue to have no idea what this monstrosity is going to cost the taxpayers until they have been elected for another term of mischief). Also undiscussed is how treatment cost will be controlled/contained and who will be administering approvals for procedure and treatment cost. I suspect the dreaded HMOs will look like “angels of mercy” compared with the government approval boards that are an integrated part of universal care.

    In the editorial, the Republicans are set up as the “straw man” to be accused of sabotage and blamed if the scheme fails, even though they have fought valiantly to save us all from the Democratic health care debacle.

    Yes, I am sure that the new Shumlincare/Obamacare will provide universal health care. The only problem will be that it will, in all probability, be universally crappy care.

    The journey toward the “brave new world” of universal care is a one-way trip; once the current health care system is dismantled and destroyed there will be no returning. When the dust settles and the good health care providers have left Vermont or gone bankrupt as a result of insufficient reimbursements and excessive bureaucracy, and we are left to be treated by the low-cost, low-quality providers, will the Democrats and their sycophants at The Times Argus accept responsibility?

    I suspect not. They will accuse their Republican opponents of sabotage; they are already laying the groundwork for their blame game.

    H. Brooke Paige lives in Washington.

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