Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Compassionate Conservatism

As if the S-CHIPS fiasco wasn’t enough the Bush administration has decided to prevent states from extending Medicare coverage to moderate income families. In what is sure to lower his job approval ratings even more, Mr. Bush has authorized the government to deny the increase the states have sought to cover families that are 250% over the poverty limits set by the government. The increase being sought by the states would affect a family of four who earn approximately 51,600 a year. The President seems to believe that by allowing the states to increase the poverty limit percentages that families already with health insurance will drop it and come running to join Medicare. Obviously, Mr. Bush has not gotten the memo that there are currently at least 47 million people in America who are without health insurance and if he has his way there will be lots more.

Until now, states had generally been free to set their own Medicaid eligibility criteria, and the Bush administration had not openly declared that it would apply the August directive to Medicaid. State officials in Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma said they had discovered the administration’s intent in negotiations with the federal government over the last few weeks.

The new federal policy reflects a significant shift. In the first four years of the Bush administration, Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, often boasted that he had approved record numbers of waivers, allowing states to decide who got what benefits under Medicaid and the child health program.

“Our goal is to give governors the flexibility they need to expand insurance coverage to more Americans,” Mr. Thompson said in 2001.[1]

So let me see if I understand this, after promising the nation to be a “compassionate conservative” Mr. Bush allowed the states to determine who needed healthcare coverage and who didn’t, but now as he is leaving office after having spent untold billions in Iraq and Afghanistan he has lost his compassion for the American people. The solution to the healthcare crisis in America is not Medicare, but it will act as a safety net until a solution is found and enacted. Why is it that those who are covered by government sponsored healthcare are always willing to stand on their principles so long as it doesn’t cost them anything? How can we as a nation be able to afford the costs of two wars; not to mention untold billions in military aid to other countries but can’t afford to provide decent affordable healthcare to our own citizens.

If the answer was flexibility in 2001, what has occurred in 7 years to make that no longer applicable today? Are there fewer people in need of health insurance? No, on the contrary there are more and as the costs continue to rise the numbers will increase. Should middle-income families become indigent due to trying to provide healthcare for their families? I don’t think so; instead of trying to shrink the number of people being helped we should be increasing them. The numbers of uninsured are only going to continue to increase; Mr. Bush has done nothing in his terms as President to stem the tide of the uninsured. Money that could have been used to provide healthcare has instead been used to give tax-cuts to the wealthy and instability in the world.

Why is the answer to every economic question the same for Mr. Bush? As we prepare for a serious recession, we continue to hear the same tired refrain of tax-cuts. Mr. Bush, if tax-cuts were the answer why are we in the position we are in? Just as he has refused to do anything meaningful about the healthcare crisis, he has no new plans for the economic crisis. What the haves will call a recession, the have-nots will call a depression. Mr. Bush is leaving the country at the right time, he has squandered the budget deficits, he has squandered the good-will of the world, and he has squandered the good-will of the American people. It seems like the only thing he is trying to do now is to keep promoting the failed policies he authored from day one. His final goal seems to be to ensure that his pro-rich policies remain in effect Ad infinitum and why not he won’t have anything else to hang his hat on.

There appears to be wholesale gouging which is fueling a rise in inflation by the oil and gas, retail, and the food industries. The rats know the ship is sinking and they are trying to get as much profit as they can before the Bush administration breathes its last breath. Their answer to the economic crisis is to raise prices and squeeze every last dime out of the American consumer. It is going to be a long hot summer for the American public as the market tanks and the gas prices rise. Thank you Mr. Bush, you have done a bang up job.


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