September 30, 2009 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Public opinion loses out

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A recent New York Times-CBS News poll asked: “Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government-administered health insurance plan – something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get – that would compete with private insurance plans?”

Sixty-five percent of respondents said yes. But based on how the U.S. Senate and President Barack Obama are dealing with health reform, it would appear that the public’s view on the public option is not an option. Obama has said that government-run insurance would only be available to those who are uninsured, and he estimates that only 5 percent would sign up. U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has produced a bill without a public option.

So why the skittishness when nearly two-thirds of Americans support it? The answer is unsurprising. Insurance and HMO interests have 1,795 lobbyists, according to the Public Campaign Action Fund, and members of Congress on the five committees handling this issue have received $187 million from health and insurance entities.

Money has so warped the issue that 65 percent of Americans are to the left of a Senate and White House run by Democrats.

Miracle financing backed. The New York Times-CBS News poll also shows the majority of Americans want guaranteed universal coverage as long as taxes, the deficit and the cost of insurance don’t rise.

Smears take hold. The poll also gives insights into the Summer of Discontent, also known as those August town halls. Twenty-six percent of respondents believe reform will produce government panels (“death panels”) that would decide to cut off care for the elderly at some point; 30 percent believe changes will result in health care for illegal immigrants. No bills would explicitly do those things.

A Second opinion. Health reform opponents like to say that the American people don’t want government getting between them and their doctors. But as the Times-CBS poll shows, the majority of respondents don’t see the issue that way. Neither do doctors, according to a survey posted Sept. 14 at the New England Journal of Medicine’s Web site.

About 63 percent of doctors support a combination of public and private coverage options for health care. The American Medical Association initially came out in support of private means to expand care, but now it supports a House proposal that includes a public option.

Grab Your shovels. Frivolous lawsuits haven’t been effective for the people who think the president isn’t constitutionally eligible for the office. They need evidence and they don’t have any. Well, local Birthers can start digging close to home.

The island of Oahu will soon begin shipping 100,000 tons of solid waste to a landfill near Goldendale, Wash. The stated reason is to alleviate the pressure on the Hawaiian island’s only landfill.

But what if Obama’s original birth documents are in that smelly pile? That’s a chance Constitution-loving Americans just can’t take!

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.


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