Monday, May 15, 2017

Kasich Talks To The Mirror Again, Ignorant About Other, Better Healthcare Systems

What a waste. It's a real shame that someone who's gained fame and fortune over 40 years as a professional political showman is so ignorant about healthcare delivery in America.

It's worse when such politicians are willfully blind to how healthcare is delivered in other nations, where it's so far superior to America's exceptionally harsh and uncompassionate system that leaves so many who are poor, elderly and sick to fend for themselves.

But that's basic Kasich. Always at the center of his one-man universe, Ohio's term-limited governor coos about his so-called Ohio-model formula for lowering Medicaid costs and improving the quality of health care. Gov. John Kasich, the lame-duck governor who got pummeled in last year's race for president after losing 49 state or caucus primaries, continues to pop up on national TV shows as some-kind of expert on government policy and spending. Mr. Kasich's routine is to repeat his misbegotten and misguided belief that repealing and replacing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare] is the way to  move forward, even when doing so would endanger the very people he cries crocodile tears about as the "vulnerable citizens...left behind."

Talking into the mirror again, because mirrors don't talk like a good reporter would, Gov. Kasich offered his unverified and unspecific vision of how to fix Obamacare while ensuring the most vulnerable of people—drug addicted, mentally ill and the working poor—get the quality care they need.

A Wasteland Mind

It's too bad that Gov. Kasich doesn't read more articles in the newspaper of record that endorsed him for president in the Republican primary last year. Had the Buckeye State's crusty CEO done so last week, he might have learned a thing or two from an opinion piece called "The Fake Freedom of American Health Care." As it is, the great reformers vision for healthcare reform is just more of the awful belief that healthcare is a privilege, not a right, and that all those vulnerable people he pretends to care about will end up far worse off under the destructive ways he and his Republican colleagues want to pursue healthcare compared to retaining, then building on the ACA in a positive way.

Author Anu Partanen, who lived in Finland for eight years before returning to the United States, wrote about the belief among Republicans like Mr. Kasich and others that there is "an appealing logic to such thinking...that buying health care is like buying anything else," when it is anything but the same. Mr. Partanen admits that America is home to some of the world’s best medical schools, doctors, research institutes and hospitals. He says this is good if "you have the money for the coverage and procedures you want..." At the same time, he argues, it "likely results in extreme inequalities and it might be expensive, but it definitely buys you the best medical treatment anywhere."

Odds are the governor didn't read Mr. Partanen's enlightened analysis or digest the troubles low-wage Ohio workers suffer as they work long hours, hoping their paychecks are enough to keep them from resorting to government safety-net programs Mr. Kasich has been so stingy about throughout his life in politics. Ohio job creation numbers on the governor's watch show he's failed to meet or exceed the national average for 49 or the last 50 months, a record fraught with embarrassment.

America lauds itself as the land of freedom. But the freedom Gov. Kasich would claim, and that House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted "is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need,” is also the freedom to dig your own grave. The kind of freedom Ryan and Kasich fantasize about, according to Mr. Partanen, "requires most Americans to spend not just money, but also time and energy agonizing over the bewildering logistics of coverage and treatment — confusing plans, exorbitant premiums and deductibles, exclusive networks, mysterious tests, outrageous drug prices....And more often than not, individual choices are severely restricted by decisions made by employers, insurers, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and other private players...Those interest groups, not the consumer, decide which plans are available, what those plans cover, which doctors patients can see and how much it will cost."

Corporate Bureaucrats

It's telling for anyone who falls into America's healthcare tiger-pit system that the person standing between you and your doctor isn't a government bureaucrat, as Gov. Kasich would likely bemoan, but a corporate bureaucrat who actually determines what procedure or drug that could save your life the company will pay for.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich touts his smart management. It doesn't take a healthcare expert to know that when a state pays nursing homes far less for the care they provide than before, state costs go down. But that's a simplified version of Gov. Kasich reducing Ohio's share of Medicaid costs, since Medicare doesn't pay for nursing home care like Medicaid does. Ohio's 69th governor's reforms have only exacerbated income inequality since 2011 through a tax distribution system that makes everyone but top earners pay more.

With the Ohio House of Representatives planning to vote on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the ACA, there's zero reason to believe Mr. Kasich will show up to offer his own testimony, the kind he reserves for largely forgotten-politico cameos on Sunday morning TV talk shows.

Whether its income tax giveaways of $5-plus billion or $6 billion in reduced workers' compensation costs, that ironically have not produced the quantity or quality or jobs Mr. Kasich promised to deliver when voters first elected him governor in 2010, Mr. Kasich loves talking policy to his reflection in the mirror. And media, in love with access to him, repeats his blather with little push back on his bogus beliefs that being stingy [read as "personal responsibility"] to those who need compassion is wrong on every account.
During his days living in Finland, Mr. Partanen learned this: "In Finland I never worried about where my medical care came from or whether I could afford it. I paid my income taxes — which, again despite the stereotypes, were about the same as what I pay in federal, state and local income taxes in New York City — and if I needed to see a doctor, I had several options."

Does Gov. Kasich even know that virtually every wealthy capitalist democracy in the world has decided that some form of government-managed universal health care is the most sensible and effective option?
Does Gov. Kasich even know that Americans spend far more on health care than citizens of any other country?

Does Gov. Kasich even know that Americans get a raw deal because they pay much more than people in other countries yet get much worse results? American-style healthcare, as the author of the NYC opinion piece sees it, imprisons people, not liberates them, as speaker Ryan and Gov. Kasich would argue. Mr. Kasich's plan, in reality, would put all people, especially those he uses as rhetorical props to promote his trickle-down ideas, in a constant state of stress.

Gov. Kasich is so full of his own bad beliefs that he would dismiss without consideration Mr. Partanen's appeal to politicos of his radical right-wing ilk. "Here is my appeal to Republicans: If you really want to free Americans and unburden American employers, why not try, or at least seriously consider, some form of government-managed health care, like almost every other capitalist democracy? There are many ways of giving people choice and excellent care under government management. Universal publicly managed health coverage would even free America’s corporations and businesses to streamline their operations, releasing them from bureaucratic obligations that to me, coming from Finland, I have to say look weirdly socialist. Would this mean they would have to pay more in taxes?"

Americans are afraid of what's coming, either from Trumpcare as proposed and in the U.S. House now or reforms proposed by great reformers like Gov. Kasich. Americans know how inefficient healthcare is today, in light of the fact they pay far more in money, worry and hassle for the same, and sometimes worse, care than people in other wealthy capitalist democracies.

It would take a real leader to admit the obvious, that healthcare in America has been helped by Obamacare, and that returning to the days before it would be a disaster. For lovers of freedom, as Gov. Kasich would surely agree identify with, freedom from worry and stress would be real freedom. False freedoms, as Ohio's petulant governor and his ilk like, would further imprison the very populations that say they want to help.

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