02 February 2007

Texas builds on failure

The Texas Health Institute, in what looks like a project funded by insurance companies and staffed by free-market idealogues (who have bent over, however, to funnel tax dollars to those helpful insurance companies), have come out with a plan to solve the healthcare crisis in Texas.

Now Texas has the wost numbers in the country — for health insurance as well as for just about everything else. It's something that should have given the rest of the country pause in 2000 when a Texas governor cheerleader ran for president.

A full quarter of Texans have no health coverage, and the situation is worsening.

It's odd how everywhere a draconian value system of "personal responsibility" has been put into place the result has been a great tolerance for inequality — along with great inequalities, pollution, high infant mortality, low education levels, and high teen pregnancy rates.

Basically the three horses of the Apocalypse. Which may be their goal...

For the rest of us, however, it's a big Whoops.

Looks like we're social beings dependent upon one after all, and needing to be reminded of the Golden Rule on a regular basis.

In any case, the Texas group had some "surprising" findings. Surprising, that is, to Texans.

My goodness, the uninsured work. Imagine that — 72 percent of them.

And they're not all poor. Forty percent of uninsured families earn more than $40,000 a year. Of course, with the average insurance cost for families at $11,000 that would take a full quarter of their income for health insurance. You pencil it out — does it work for your budget?

The institute came up with "A Vision for Change: Policy Solutions for Increasing Health Coverage in Texas."

The report could also have been titled "Band-aides for Now."

Twelve expensive band-aides, in fact — although a couple of them are well intentioned and workable in a better system. Like encouraging expansion of healthcare centers and a primary care "medical home."

Most of the measures, though, have to do with state money for private gain:
• like employer tax credits or
• replacing the state's current reinsurance program — lowering insurance companies' risk;

or with mandating private money goes to insurance companies;
• like mandating college students buy insurance;

or expanding charity dollars:
• like removing barriers to the Child Health Insurance Progam and
• expanding access to Medicaid to poor parents.

The solutions all require increased bureaucratic oversight and maintain the fractured, inefficient essense of what already doesn't work.

The report also recommends that the state keep accurate track of the situation — something that hasn't happened up to now. That's good: Without measuring benchmarks, the foes of change will always be able to diminish the failure of the current system.

Even with benchmarks, however, idealogues will simply say "See? Reform failed. Only the pure free market can fix this." And then they'll bask in the glow of their own private Idaho.

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