Friday, June 11, 2010

Why is $125M Healthcare Reform Law “Sales Pitch” Needed?

Voters are smarter than Washington thinks.
Photo by Flickr
Why is Washington now planning on spending millions to once again explain, which really only means sell, the healthcare reform law to voters? The same law Democrats were so giddy to pass they didn’t even read before voting yes to enact? They passed it with 65-70% of the American people not wanting it at the time. Did Obama, Pelosi, and Reid believe once passed Americans would feel the inevitable – big government knows better than you what is best for you? When this law was being drafted and tortured through the legislative process, the top priorities of the American people were high unemployment, record setting property foreclosures, spiraling deficit spending, unrealistically tight credit availability, plunging asset values, and a recession economy.


Today, these remain the top priorities of the American people – not legislation that will further kill job creation, further increase entitlements, further increase deficit spending, and further erode personal medical choices. Even with some news reports of things getting better, the average American knows nothing much has changed for them. Voters are smarter than Washington thinks. They know enacting the tax increases and over burden of government intrusion into the private sector within this law will do nothing but deepen the recession.

Hurting Americans are begging Washington to concentrate on their priorities and not political legacy and victories that will really just benefit politicians even if just in their own minds. Everyone knows the real unemployment and underemployment is closer to 20% than the 9.7% tracked and espoused by the federal government. Everyone knows temporary census jobs accounting for 90% of job creation is not meaningful job creation. The stimulus deficit spending has not worked and letting tax cuts expire and raising taxes are not going to grow our economy in any significant way.

Does any of our federal leadership live in the real world or have any common sense regarding the economy and what legislation supports job growth and what legislation kills job growth any more? No matter how Washington tries to spin it, the reason a healthcare law sales pitch may be needed, but won’t work no matter how much money you spend to do it, is simple. All of the polls reflect the same reality - over 50% of Americans still do not want “this” healthcare law as the reform they want. This law has been sold to them over and over since passage. Americans are not reluctant buyers to just keep selling to, and persistence will close the sale. Put the majority of the American public on the “wants to be contacted when version 2.0 is available” sales call list. Embed a note into the sales report document this potential buyer will be deciding on the purchase in November.

Americans were promised in the 2008 presidential campaign by both candidates, including the winner President Obama, there would not be mandated insurance coverage. They were also told by both candidates they would be offered the same plan offered to Congress as an option. In reality, the healthcare reform law does mandate insurance coverage with tough penalties for noncompliance. And, not only did ordinary Americans not receive an option for the same coverage as Congress; but Congress, in reality not wanting this "care-package" enacted in their own lives, exempted themselves from the healthcare law in its entirety. I guess the answer to the question above is no, the politicians that voted for this law made sure they would not be subject to the same real world they are imposing on their constitutions. The “of the people” part of our legacy is thrown out by Congress.

Most Americans do in fact have a global awareness and are actually smarter than most politicians think they are. Americans point to countries that already have what this new U.S. healthcare law is modeled after in place. They see that it does not provide better quality or more choice than the current U.S. system. We’ve all heard the joke – If Americans go to government run healthcare, where will the rest of the world go for healthcare when they really need it? They see that other government run care does not cost less, especially in the overall tax burden to its citizens, and does not provide equal quality in choice and care to what is available in the U.S. today.

Americans see this law is not in fact the best healthcare reform solution their political leadership could develop and implement. Americans used to provide leadership and solutions for the world to follow – now our leadership is the follower of broken systems. Americans don’t want the current U.S. healthcare system completely demolished as a whole to provide pre-existing condition coverage assurance. They don’t want the current system transformed by the invasion of over 150 new government agencies and numerous levels of bureaucracy into their lives. They do not want our current system wrecked for all to ensure coverage options for the 5-10% of the legal population that may not have it now.

Americans note the recent healthcare industry news coming out of Canada just this week – Canadians are choosing to go to private healthcare doctors and clinics being newly set-up or expanded to avoid the ineffective healthcare being provided to them “free” with their government’s universal care. Americans see the reality of long waiting lists and denied care in the healthcare system in the U.K.

In a bigger picture, Americans see what is happening today in Greece and other EU countries with entitlements undermining their economic solvency. Americans know the U.S. government has never come in at budget on any new program implemented let alone saw “cost-savings” from any new entitlement. Americans know this law will put us on the road to Greece and not for a lovely vacation. Greece provides the real life example it is better for everyone to not set up an unsustainable entitlement program to begin with than to have to cut it when forced to admit you couldn’t afford it by pending bankruptcy.

From a more domestic perspective, the majority of Americans simply do not support the federal government taking control of 1/6 of the US economy and more directly of their medical choices and care. They understand the law also provides for government to have a bigger and more personally intrusive role into their medical and financial privacy. Whether Washington believes it or not, the majority of Americans still value their capitalist system. They want free-enterprise innovation and solutions to problems.

A strong sales objection for most Americans is they are not buying the "cost savings" touted by Democrats. They are not buying they will have lower insurance cost; lower medical costs, no middle class tax increases, more choice, better care, no rationed care, and that illegal immigrants will not be covered. Smart Americans know you really don’t get something for nothing. You don’t spend trillions to save billions if a savings in a government program can ever be more than an unrealistic political selling point. Do Canadians or Brits have all the wonderful benefits listed above with their government run systems?

The actual full cost of the reform law was broken up into separate pieces of legislation as opposed to being honest and putting in all into one healthcare law. Add-on elements like the “$167B Dr. Fix” to the costs shown in the bill passed were purposefully left out of the numbers by the Democrats originally scored by the CBO. The trick of counting the "$500B Medicare Cost Savings" twice was employed to further decrease the true cost of the legislation. Lawmakers put the healthcare reform benefits on lay-away for Americans to further disguise the true cost impact to taxpayers. Payments for the healthcare reform "benefits" will be made for 4 years before benefits can be taken out of the backroom being held for you by Washington political shopkeepers.

And in accounting only Congress can get away with, payments will be made for 10 years for 6 years worth of benefits to further dilute the transparency of the cost reality. These were all less than transparent and honest number crunching dismissed by Democrats before passage.

President Obama continues to personally pledge to Americans that they can keep the same insurance they currently have if they like it and keep the same doctors they have now. Again, voters are smarter than you think. Many don’t see how with revelations already coming out that many companies will be forced to pay the lesser “no-coverage provided penalty” cost to the federal government than to continue paying higher cost in private insurance coverage for their employees as a matter of staying competitive. Americans realize they will be forced into government only insurance options when they are dropped by their employers.

Voters are smart enough to realize rationed care, and therefore the quality of current U.S. care, will be a necessity in the U.S. as it has been in Canada and the UK with their government controlled healthcare systems. Voters realize less care is inevitable when there are fewer doctors and hospitals available caused by doctors opting for early retirement in protest of the new law and by some opting out of taking government insurance patients due to lower reimbursement payments.

Many realistically wonder what students will want to go into medicine in the future to replenish leaving doctors if the reward does not equal the work and time required in getting a medical degree. Or will the U.S. just implement another “cost-saving” scheme and pay for all new medical students to complete undergraduate and medical school if they work for the government. Politicians always seem to forget anyone on a government payroll is an expense to the taxpayers not a savings to them.

The passage of this reform law turned out to be an extreme example of the worst of Washington politicians in that it was written mainly behind closed doors by industry lobbyists and union bosses. It was done in an atmosphere of hyper partisanship seemingly with the only purpose to get "something" passed to be able to claim a political victory whether it was good for the health and expenditures of ordinary citizens or the cost and financial stability to the country. It took political special deals and threats as well as calling any citizen or group that questioned or opposed the legislation names including racists to get it passed in Congress. It was passed by the majority of legislators without being read or understood. It could only get the needed votes to pass by using the reconciliation type 51 vote requirement instead of the normal 60 senate votes. The legislation required an “Executive Order” and "additional legislative fixes" after it was passed.

The problem with selling this law now is voters have not and will not forget the way in which it was passed. Americans asked tough questions about the health care reform bill before it was passed. No one could get a definitive, honest and straight answer; because the bill was written on the fly and by special interest looking out only for their interest. Voters protested the cost of this legislation. Lawmakers did not listen to them. Lawmakers hid and dismissed the factual complete cost. It had to come in under a trillion dollars was the only political objective. They knew anything over a trillion was dead on arrival – it still is.

Everyone remembers politicians being shocked at the anger of voters in town hall meetings and the mocking and minimizing of them afterwards by politicians meant to serve them and the media meant to inform them. Most politicians are so used to spending freely without any consequences, they don’t seem to understand voters actually are smarter than they think and do care about the national deficit. Democrats really don’t seem to understand the majority of Americans do not want a government that takes care of them at the expense of taking their liberty and privacy away.

Add huge tax increases, continued rising premiums, over 150 new government agencies, IRS enforcement, and Americans were actually better off without this healthcare reform. Add to the equation significant deficit increases with what will amount to more future unfunded liabilities (no matter what is touted and “sold” to the contrary); and America itself was better off without this healthcare reform law being passed. The reform Americans thought they were going to get, and were promised, did not come with a new IRS army to enforce it upon them and higher cost in both taxes and premiums. This law is not only useless, but harmful, for it does nothing at all to address the underlying cost of healthcare services.

These are all the reasons why a law that is already passed needs a strong "sales pitch" now to try to ensure it is not replaced or outright repealed before it is enacted. The Democrats need to sell this law to voters now to try to minimize losses in the November election. No matter how much this law is sold to the public, the real problem is the public remembers how they were treated during and after the process. No sales pitch will erase this. Politicians that voted to pass this law may come to know the old saying personally - It’s easier and cheaper to keep good customers than to find new ones

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