Healthcare on the Hill or in the Home

Our democracy was designed for the Members of Congress to reflect the will of the people. But who hasn’t complained over the same cup of coffee about both the cost of health insurance and the deficit? And did I hear one more complaint that all they do in Washington is squabble? Maybe Washington is behaving closer to the will of the people than we give them credit for.

It turns out in a poll just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation that Congress is doing what Americans are doing: arguing along Party lines over the projected $500B deficit for 2012 and the future of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Those who are self-described Democrats prefer to keep or expand existing programs while self-described Republicans would prefer to see repeal with replacement or repeal outright.

So is it any surprise that the Republican-majority House is passing legislation aimed at reducing or repealing these laws, while the Democratic-majority Senate is letting the legislation die in Committee?

If you read through the tracking poll, at the very end of the write-up, you’ll find the interesting tidbit on PPACA:

Since January, the share wanting to expand or keep the law as is has tricked up from 47 to 52 percent, while the share calling for repeal has declined from 43 to 35 percent.

One has to wonder if the President will emerge the tiebreaker between the two, divided chambers, if he can manage to sway public opinion. The President has not underestimated the conflict — the White House website contains pages devoted to infomercial style videos and the Executive has spent money on advertising campaigns, including $3.1M for three commercials for Medicare staring Andy Griffith.

With full implementation of PPACA not due until January 1, 2015, America may see changes yet. There are presidential and congressional elections in 2012, and congressional elections, again, in 2014. Neither the Republican majority in the House, nor the Democratic majority in the Senate should be considered safe.

And about all that is clear at the moment, is that in spite of annual deficits and mounting long-term debt, American health care programs and entitlement benefits are here to stay — at least until the public changes the channel.


Kaiser Health Tracking Poll — April 2011. Public Opinion and Survey Research Program

Personal Correspondence between Pamela Gentry and Tegan Millspaw. Department of Health and Human Services. 10/28/2010.

  • Only social entitlement programs are on the table. Corporate entitlements, which believe it or not are far costlier, remain stable or continue to grow.

    For all the frightening figures attached to them, human infrastructure like education and healthcare are a vanishingly small proportion of the budget. It’s a wonderful distraction which effectively impedes real progress on fixing the damn budget and putting America in the position of having a future as a world leader again, instead of a dead weight.

    Imagine watching someone eat a $3,000 cheeseburger which you paid for, while you complain about the 3 cents their extra ketchup cost.

    I pull figures from the CBO every so often to do a sanity check, and this pattern is absolutely consistent.

    So, um … Where’s the stuff on brain & neurology? You had some good articles about that at one point.

  • I should specify — when I say they’re far costlier, I’m talking about the cost/benefit ratio, not simply the upfront costs. My late dad, an economic development adviser, would have snorted beer out his nose at these figures.

  • My word I love these lines!

    “And did I hear one more complaint that all they do in Washington is squabble? Maybe Washington is behaving closer to the will of the people than we give them credit for.”

    So true!! Our country’s partisan divide issues seem to have only grown worse with time – how I long for the day when we’re able to stop getting in our own way.

    Excellent article, Paloma!!!

  • NicholasA

    Great article overall, but I have to disagree with a few points. Our healthcare system simply is too expensive and needs to be revamped. End of story.

Paloma Capanna, JD

Paloma Capanna, JD, received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Wheaton College and her Juris Doctorate from SUNY Buffalo School of Law. She is a freelance writer and photographer, as well as an attorney. She also serves as an Adjunct Faculty Member of Political Science at Rochester Institute of Technology.

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