I’m watching the state of the union address and trying not to grind my teeth. 

I’m expecting that the most interesting part of the speech will be the health care proposal.   Based on the advance info, it’s a terrible proposal, but I think it’s massively significant that Bush feels a need to have a health care proposal.  12 years after the crash and burn of the Clinton health care proposal, the demand for change seems to have outweighed the ghosts of Harry and Louise.

The one part of the Bush proposal that I agree with is that it doesn’t make sense for employer-provided health insurance to be fully tax exempt, with no limit.  It costs the government a huge amount of money, and mostly benefits the wealthy and middle-class.  I’d be happy to limit it if the funds went to something that was actually going to expand coverage.

But it’s nuts to think that everyone is going to buy health insurance on the individual market.  It’s way too expensive for low-income families (and a tax deduction doesn’t help those who don’t owe income taxes) and out of reach for anyone with a pre-existing condition.  One of my friends who lives in Massachusetts says that the plans there are costing 2 -3 times more than estimated when the individual mandate law was passed.  Health insurance has to involve risk pooling or it’s just a way of smoothing out spending over time.

Some links:

Ok.  I was wrong.  The proposal to reduce gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next 10 years is more interesting than the health insurance.  I have no idea how he thinks we’re going to achieve this.

5 Responses to “Bush-care”

  1. Christine Says:

    I watched the last half of his speech and the only thing I thought was – how nice is it to see a woman up there for a change. I wish there were someone out there who can shake up this nation and give a speech with less formality and more emotion. Needless to say, Bush hasn’t said anything that I haven’t heard before. These speeches are as ennui since I was a kid, regardless who is President.

  2. Jody Says:

    Re: gas reduction. Bush doesn’t think we’re going to achieve it, he just knows it sounds good. Asshole.
    Re: health insurance. Yes, okay, but have we really reached the point where it’s more politically palatable to tax the people who do have health insurance, rather than raise the marginal top tax rate by a friggin tax point or two?
    We finally joined a medical savings plan thing this year (where they take the money tax-free, and you submit your receipts) and all I keep thinking is, for all the paperwork this generates for businesses (those who offer these plans anyway), the government should just drop the tax credit limit (2% of income) and let everyone deduct all medical expenses, and then raise business taxes to recapture enough of the savings businesses would experience (from not having to staff the programs that administer these plans) to pay for the lost revenue.
    Or, wait, we could find an efficient [cough cough single-payer national plan cough cough] way to administer health insurance and get rid of the medical cost deduction altogether.
    I couldn’t bear to listen to any of the speech, although I’m sorry I didn’t get to see Pelosi behind him. The man actually makes my head want to explode.

  3. bj Says:

    I did not watch his speech. I’m on the left coast which insulates us from the blather, so don’t feel I need to watch in order to engage in cooler conversation. And, I decided years ago that listening to him was bad for my health.
    I really honestly believe that the best course for the nation would be for Cheney & Bush to resign. They’re no longer effective, and we are a nation at war. (OK, my rant is over).
    I’d like you to post more on creative solutions to national health care. What are the benefits and problems with the different solutions out there? Can something like the plans for car insurance work?

  4. Anjali Says:

    The man makes me sick, so I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I was hoping that he would, at the very least, attribute the need for a 20% reduction in gas usage to global warming. I guess he still doesn’t make THAT connection? I just wanted to hear him say, “Oh, by the way, Al Gore was right along.”

  5. dave s Says:

    I was chivvying my kids through homework and bed, and then fell into bed myself, so all I know about the speech is what I read in the papers. That said, it seems to me the health proposal is better than the current situation, and would get loads better if it went to a tax credit rather than a tax deduction. A move towards single-payer would mobilize the same folks who gave us Harry and Louise and killed Hillarycare – why would they not win again, with the same sort of campaign?
    Now, how to get gasoline use down – and Bush is better off not addressing any global warming questions, in pushing for reduction in use, remember his base has a lot of folks who don’t believe this is a reasonable concern – work on substitute fuels has a lot to be said for it. Cellulosic ethanol, if the process can be developed, would be absolutely grand. If there’s not an easy and cheap substitute, any gasoline we don’t burn will be burnt by China or India, so it’s not clear to me that huge efforts by the US will have much global effect, except to postpone things for five years or so.

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