Saturday, November 17, 2007

Universal Health Care without the Federal Government (Sort of)

The title is a contradiction of terms, I'm sure. Anyhow, here are a bunch of ideas, musings, and hypotheses I've been mulling over the topic of universal/public (or socialized, for you Red Scare naysayers) health care in the United States:

1. I like comparing a proposed universal health care system with the structure and socialization of other tax-funded and mostly accepted programs: Police, firefighting, and to a lesser extent, public education.

2. Other than the FBI, the DEA, and other national agencies, police is localized by city, county, or state (in the case of Highway Patrol or State Troopers). It's an obvious point, but I feel the need to make it.

3. Let's consider a quasi-universal health care system, following the police structure analogy: A localized system - by county, city, or even House of Representatives district - is a call for chaos. It would also highlight the inequality from city to city, and neighborhood to neighborhood, akin to the current public school system of disparity. It would be ironic that those who would benefit the most from a public system - the poor and workers without health care plans - would not benefit at all if they live in a tax-poor locality. Those who don't need a socialized system in the first place - the rich - would have wonderful locally-funded health care that they could afford regardless.

4. A state-wide system would definitely appeal to state's rights advocates (paleoconservatives, libertarians, etc.), but it would highlight the polarization of Blue States (who probably would go for such a policy) and Red States (who might or might not, but would be happy that they had the choice in the first place).

5. What about a totally Federally funded bureaucracy? About half of America probably thinks that reeks too much of socialism (which leads to communism, which leads to bread lines and salt mines, as Yoda would say) and would not agree with it. However, I might guess that a significant amount of those in opposition would probably benefit from having health care paid by tax dollars. But it's the principle of it, right? Or is it the influence of Presidential candidates' views on weightier (?) issues such as war and morality that obscure the utility (futility to the naysayers) of this issue?

6. Maybe if the Federal government can remove any possible red tape when it comes to individual states creating a public health care system, and throw the states some minor subsidies from time to time, that would be the way to go. Instead of the years-old jingo-fundie (neoconservative Republican) bully line of "If you don't like it, you can move to France (or Canada)!" it would change to "If you don't like it in Red State X, you can move to California (or Blue State Y)!" As if being in the 6th-10th largest economy in the world is a bad thing.

7. Liberals can get into the bullying game too if we had a Federally-cleared, state-handled public health care system: "If you don't like it, you can move to Red State X!" Yes, I know, I could have used "Alabama," but that state gets picked on way too often:

Alabama Man!

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