Americans do not understand the fundamental differences between the Democratic and the Republican healthcare agendas because, quite frankly, the political parties often like it that way. There is nothing worse for political parties than an informed, thoughtful electorate that researches the issues to determine how proposed legislation will affect them. Politicians feed us political healthcare propaganda to sway us toward (or away from) specific legislation that supports (or hinders) their particular political agenda. For example, every American knows that the Republicans hate Obamacare (PPACA). We have seen and heard them voice their hatred through political propaganda ad nauseam for the past six years, but how many of us know why? The why can be found by piercing through the political propaganda and laying bare the basic Republican party ideology behind their actions.
I have looked at both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party websites. I have looked at the major Democratic Party healthcare reform legislation (Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare (PPACA)) as well as Republican bills for healthcare reform currently in circulation. I have come up with a simple comparison that defines the basic differences between the Democratic Party versus Republican Party healthcare agendas. This summary is given in the figure below.
The Republican healthcare agendas call for undoing our government’s obligation and funding of health care that has operated over the past fifty years. The Republican Party healthcare agendas reflect its desire for small government. Spending taxpayer dollars for the health care of American citizens is not part of the Republican Party healthcare agendas. These agendas call for unraveling all past Democratic legislation that brought Americans closer to universal healthcare; namely, Medicaid, Medicare, and now Obamacare (PPACA). Interestingly, the Republican Party is silent when it comes to our government’s only socialized medicine program–the Veteran’s Health Administration. The Republicans feel that healthcare is a privilege that government does not need to provide while the Democrats believe it is a right that government needs to provide for all Americans. All major Democratic healthcare reforms have been designed to bring universal care to Americans.
While repeal of Obamacare (PPACA) is currently stalled, Republicans are moving to quickly unravel the quality and affordability measures that are part and parcel of Obamacare (PPACA). Through executive orders and actions within the various departments and agencies of the federal government (e.g., the IRS and the Department of Health & Human Services), the Republican healthcare agendas are working behind the scenes. These actions are in tune with the Republican party’s healthcare agenda to return control of quality and affordability to the for-profit healthcare businesses. The Republican Party healthcare agendas call for those who profit and earn income from health spending to voluntarily become more efficient and improve quality of care at the expense of their income and profits. They expect competition between scarce doctors and monopolistic health insurance companies to make healthcare more affordable (i.e., give them less income and profits). The Democratic Party healthcare agenda recognizes the financial conflict of interest this poses and maintains final control of quality & affordability on the federal government level (primarily through its actions within the Medicare program).
The Republicans are especially keen to reverse all measures that improve the delivery of care efforts under Obamacare (PPACA). Delivery of care efforts are affordability and quality of care improvements. One particular piece of Republican healthcare legislation is particularly against all quality and affordability measures that impact physician income and profits. This legislation, entitled Empowering Patients First Act, 2015, is being pushed by Dr. Tom Price, the new Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS). It calls for the repeal of Medicare benefit enhancements, all quality measures, and all payment and delivery system measures that target improved affordability. In addition, the legislation wants to remove the limits on Medicare reimbursements, repeal Obamacare (PPACA) prohibition on lifetime and annual limits, and just about anything else that limits the income of physicians. Dr. Price correctly has identified the danger that Medicare cost reduction improvements in Obamacare (PPACA) poses to the income of his fellow physicians. Republicans do not seem interested in improving the subpar quality of care that many Americans face, especially when improvements impact profits and income of private healthcare businesses.
The Republican healthcare agendas for small government play out in the various healthcare reform bills currently in circulation. The Republican bill that rose to the surface recently was the American Health Care Act. In this piece of legislation, the Republicans repeal Obamacare (PPACA) taxes to the rich and healthcare businesses that profit from health spending. To pay for the resulting reduction in revenues, the Republicans propose to reduce the federal funding and obligation to the Medicaid program, the healthcare program for America’s poorest. They change the funding from a guaranteed share with the states to one that only funds a fixed (block) amount. Any escalation in healthcare costs will be borne by the individual states and their taxpayers. These Republican political healthcare agendas call for individual states and individuals to pay more for health care than they already do. Democratic legislation, on the other hand, treats health care as a right that should be afforded to all Americans. On the Democratic side of healthcare policy, the interests of individuals outweigh the financial interests of the private healthcare business that make up the U.S. healthcare system.
I encourage all Americans to take a look at the various Republican and Democratic bills and laws cited above. The Democratic and Republican healthcare agendas are clear.