Monday, February 11, 2008

A Vote for Ron Paul

I can definitely be a one-issue voter. I can remember somebody saying when Gilmore was running for Governor of Virginia: "tsk, tsk, it's awful that people voters can be one-issue-voters and elect Gilmore because he's promising to end the 'car tax' " I immediately responded, "yeah, well that's me, I hate that tax!"

Now I'm absolutely all wound up again and brother I had to vote for Ron Paul and yessir yabetcha it's a one issue thing again!

What burning issue has me riled up? The tax man cometh, and I was reminded yet again that the tax code does not allow people to deduct medical expenses unless they are enormous: the first 7.5% of your income. I think this is outrageously wrong, personally. It certainly flies in the face of the modern notion as to what a person should have to pay out of his own pocket for health care [i.e. as close to absolutely nothing as possible]. But think about it - it does fit perfectly with the government's notions about personal health care expenses, which is that those personal expenses can cost next to nothing as long as part of the payments go to support the Bureaucracies they have created.

Last year our family had some dental expenses, and we didn't want to wait to cover these unexpected expenses by setting up a Flex plan. There really are a lot of problems with these Flex programs, the major problem being it is too hard to predict what your uncovered medical expenses are going to be. Yet you have to able to do this perfectly in advance or any excess money you set aside actually can be taken from you. Dental expenses are a good example of what Flex plans are not good for as they often arise on an emergency basis and often are not in the nature of something that can reasonably be postponed. So yet again I'm thinking, maybe we'll be able to take it off our taxes, but oh no, the amount would have to be far greater than it is and we just have to eat these expenses. Thanks a lot US tax code!

So how does this lead me to vote for Ron Paul in the Virginia primary? Let me explain.

I decided I needed to finally bone up on how each candidate stood on the issue of health care. Then by golly I could vote for the guy who represented my views the best! Each candidate's website has a section for "issues, " so, it was pretty easy to do. It was interesting to read between the lines.

For example, looks to me like the issue of Universal Health Care has become urgent for some reasons I didn't know about. Turns out one of the things breaking the bank for Medicaid is that people who wind up on it are usually uninsured, then when they have health problems they really sock it to the government. To be put in this position is like allowing a person to drive around without car insurance, wait until they get into an accident, then go get whatever insurance they need and use it to cover them for the accident they just had. Of course private insurance isn't done that way. In fact one of the notorious techniques they have to control costs, canceling that insurance after paying off, is unavailable to the government. Seems that policy wonks have really decided this situation has to go, believing that it's going to be possible to collect some kind of payments out of most of these same people while they are healthy. Supporting Universal Health Care, then, is win-win for these candidates, as the policy wonks are going to be in support of what they say while they get to look like what they care about is all the poor people.

It was also asserted by Obama that three quarters of health care costs today are generated by people with chronic problems like diabetes and heart disease. I didn't know that either; and man that has to be clobbering Medicaid now.

So anyway I went through all the candidate's positions on health care and most of them weren't really saying what I want to hear. For one thing, one of the things that is really wrong with our system IMO seems to be only mentioned by Huckabee. He points out that the employer based insurance that predominates is a flawed thing that came about "as a way around World War II wage-and-price controls." I'd like all the candidates to home in on this, and I'm ready to rant about it, but am going to save that for another post.

When I got to Ron Paul things frankly weren't much better but I have to give him credit for saying one thing I wanted to hear: he says he's for "making all medical expenses tax deductible." Hooray! Mr. one-issue, Yours Truly, zoomed to the polling station and gave Paul the honors.

I suppose I have to let you know that I often just do a "protest vote" and really this was one of those times. If Paul had any chance at all, I'd have to reconsider really voting for him. But as it was, it felt really good!

PS: while researching positions I came across a set of really, really idiotic stuff from so-called experts. Some moron is actually quoted as saying a good idea is to eliminate health insurance altogether [#7]. Now I'm as ready to listen to varied opinions as anybody, but that has to be the stupidest thing ever said when it comes to ideas about fixing health care. The other dolts are not much better. God save us from experts!


Louise said...

I wasn't allowed to vote in the primaries because I refuse to declare party loyalty. So yet again, the party system fails me. Why should I have to declare party loyalty to choose a candidate? But that's another issue altogether.

Ron Paul had a sort of grass-roots support system going on up here. Around here, people like to post homemade signs on the pedestrian bridges. They usually say things like "Happy Sweet 16, April!" or "Welcome Home Dad". Back in oh, May? I started seeing signs saying "Ron Paul for President". I thought it was some high school kid running for class president. So when I learned he was an actual U.S. Presidential candidate, I thought it was rather funny.

I was somewhat disappointed he didn't win the AK GOP primary.

Marsha said...

Well I guess that a vote on one issue is pretty much the same as my voting pattern which is to hold my nose and vote for someone I do not like because I really hate the other guy. I am so looking forward to the day when I can vote FOR someone, instead of against the other guy.

as for health care, the idea with universal coverage is that it would be like car insurance. Just as you have to have it to drive a car, you have to have insurance, either through an employer or on your own, without exception. That way the cost of health care gets spread around, healthy people help pay for the bad habits of sick people, you get credit for being healthy. All just like car insurance.

The issue is that Clinton wants to force everyone to have it. But how do you enforce that requirement? Obama wants to encourage people through tax credits and other incentives. The Republicans think that the market can solve the problem and that has proved to be a complete failure so far. I think that for profit health care/health insurance has been the F5 tornado to health care in this country. It has completely destroyed affordability. I am not sure how universal health care, and by that they mean universal health insurance, will solve the cost problem except that insurance companies will surely start to encourage good behavior or you are going to pay--just as I am with my car insurance because I am a speed demon driver. Ironically, it does not stop me from behaving badly. So will mandatory health insurance cause changed behavior? Maybe. They will know in Massachusetts soon enough.

Carlw4514 said...

stay tuned, Louise, for a blog on the two party system one of these days. Did Paul really have a chance in AK?

Marsha, I agree the idea is like car insurance except for the first time it did strike me that you can't expect a car insurance company to cover you for the accidents you had *before* you got your insurance.

This is only slightly related to the beef people have with health insurance companies that won't cover them for pre-existing conditions, that's largely another matter.

Marsha said...

Well, you have to start somewhere I guess and if we exclude from universal coverage people who are already sick, then we will get nowhere. So yes, you can't expect coverage after an accident, but I think the car analogy breaks down for the initial phase.

Mind you, I am not saying I am for this plan. You will love this but I am a socialist and I am all for government health care. It is laughable when we say we have the best health care system in the world. We do not, unless you are rich. In which case, you have access to the best. But we have a lot of sick people walking around with no hope for seeing a doctor anytime soon. The Scandinavians for example, are way healthier than we are and they don't seem to be suffering just because the government provides the health care. No one is dropping dead in the street. The list of countries with better medical care and healthier people is pretty long. And importantly, since those countries provide health care, the companies are not burdened with the cost and there is a better chance for profit.

But in this country, this may be the best we can come up with. We will find out because the system needs to be fixed or our businesses will simply be crushed by the cost of insurance.

That is two cents from the your socialist friend. Who knew you had one?! See, we can agree to disagree.

Carlw4514 said...

hmmmm, not sure we are disagreeing about the car insurance bit so much.

as for socialist medicine, it might surprise you to find I think that would be better than our current system, which is some kind of monstrous combination of socialist medicine with a profit motive.

The rest of what I have to say will have to wait for another blog post, in which the current system gets a big broadside from yours truly (and socialist medicine gets a few shots across the bow)

Anonymous said...

You seem to confuse Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare comes out of everyone's Social Security monthly check. It pays for some health care items, but not all. Of course, if you can afford it, you can pay and get extra coverage. Medicaid is for people that fall below the poverty line or for people who are permanently disabled. No way can they pay for their own coverage. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you get the bureaucracy involved with universal health care. I agree, the system is broken. And,yes, we should be able to deduct all our health care expenses before we get to that huge amount. But I'm not sure that justifies voting for Ron Paul

Carlw4514 said...

well, I'll repeat I probably wouldnt do such a thing if Ron Paul had a chance, but it was fun to write about it because of course I expect people to be surprised at such a thing.

As for Medicaid and Medicare, these two separate things are clear in my own mind, sorry it wasnt clear in what I posted!

Anonymous said...

OK, well, I'd just like to point out that someone, ahem,
predicted a year ago that you would back Ron Paul. I couldn't have predicted why, but it nonetheless came to be. ;-)

Now, to comment on health care. The people who are below
the poverty line who are on Medicaid actually receive pretty good coverage. Obviously, well to do people who have their employers help provide coverage or can afford the best care aren't hurt either. Once again, it's the middle class who faces the biggest squeeze. Additionally,
employers are being squeezed because the cost to provide
insurance for their employees, which I would bet the majority of small business owners want to provide, is quickly becoming something out of reach. Annual increases in double digits doesn't take too long to compound to
make it completely unaffordable.

I'll be honest, I am not up on the candidates positions as
much on this issue, but I do think we need to take a look at what the states are doing, what other countries are doing, and test some things out. It won't be easy, but we can't keep slipping down the rung of countries who do offer universal coverage, sticking our heads in the sand, and saying we're better.

BTW, Amen to Louise. We have the same problem in MD. The
parties are too chicken to open up their primaries to independents or people who will not declare. The Republicans tried it once, in 2000, until MD went for McCain over Bush. When that happened, they closed it down
and vowed that would never happen again. We must break the



Carlw4514 said...

"people who are below the poverty line who are on Medicaid actually receive pretty good coverage"

this may be true, at least they shouldnt complain since they arent paying into it. Am I correct in thinking it's a canard for a candidate to claim they want Univeral Health Coverage because they care about poor people? Those people are already covered, and if they are forced to have *insurance* which is an entirely different thing, then some of them will be paying *something* into it. How is that helping them? [vbg]

But why do I think it is the rest of us that will actually be socked for the bill?

Anonymous said...

I would say for the most part yes. I think the people who are most
effected by the crumbling of our system are those who are just over
the poverty line (the working poor)and the middle class. Now one
could make an argument that the working poor are the poor the
candidates are talking about. I'll let them speak for themselves on
that front. I just these folks are currently the most adversely
effected and who these plans are targeted to. I don't think anyone
should have to lose their house because they get cancer, for instance.

I also meant to bring up a point that Marsha and I have discussed.
The problems really started to escalate when the Non-profit insurance
companies started to convert to for-profit plans. The last remaining
non-profit Blue Cross is Care First in the Washington Metro area. I
don't think the pressure that puts on these companies to turn a
profit, jives with their original mission. Now that's not to say it is
the only problem, but I think it had a major impact. Do we really
want to treat people's health as a commodity?

Finally, we have almost a total emphasis on reactive care, while
ignoring preventative care. Huckabee has been railing on this and I
agree with him. It is much more cost effective to help people get
healthy than pay for the ramifications of ignoring it. For instance,
take diabetes. Encourage people to eat better, exercise, and live a
healthy lifestyle and you will ultimately cut down on the amount of
money that you have to pay for obesity related problems such as



Louise said...

Yeah, I think Ron Paul actually did have a chance up here, although I don't recall the results from the primary. Huckabee won in AK, which really disturbs me, given this.