I was unable to take part in Cathy McMorris Rodgers' TeleTown Hall meeting last Wednesday evening, but a recording of it is available on her web site so I listened to it. After leading off with a prepared statement repeating the government control of health care canard she is so fond of, she took questions. The inaccuracies and incongruities were many.
One of the main themes was the effect of illegal immigrants getting health care and raising the costs for all of us. Our congresswoman said that of the 40-45 million Americans without insurance, 8-10 million of them are illegal immigrants. Illegal American immigrants?
Another theme was how bad government control of health care would be for us, mainly because of the lack of choice of health care providers and waiting lists that would result in order to keep costs down. Also, McMorris Rodgers is concerned that Obama's public option could be forced on people who already have private insurance.
When the subject of her medical insurance came up, McMorris Rodgers clarified that she had the same choices as every other federal employee but added that it was a pretty good deal. She complained about using her husband's TriCare coverage for their son because she couldn't choose her pediatrician. So she switched her son to her Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Having been a long time TriCare user myself, I have few complaints about it.
A small business owner said he didn't know how much longer he could provide health insurance for his employees because it costs so much. Then he segued into complaining about illegal immigrants which was completely unrelated to his problem. Nobody addressed the issue of why the cost of the insurance keeps rising.
One person asked why the hospital accepted $3,000 from his insurance company when his bill was for $15,000. She said the low reimbursement Medicare and Medicaid rates force private insurance companies to accept lower rates and forces hospitals to try to make up the difference by trying to charge people more. She also said that Medicare will go bankrupt in 2017 but did not say that it's because of the rising hospital costs forcing it to pay out more than it collects by then. Are you following this?
Overall, McMorris Rodgers succeeded in keeping the issue murky. At no time did she provide a clear strategy for dealing with health care other than saying no to government control. On a related note, although she would like the Shriners Hospital to stay open, nothing she proposes would have any effect.
Most inane moment: An elderly caller complained about the "donut hole" (Medicare Part D) that forces her to pay full price for her prescriptions. Our congresswoman said that not all plans have donut holes and suggested she talk to someone about switching plans. Hmm, but not addressing the cost of those plans. Anyway, that must be how choice works.
Most bogus poll: She asked, What is your biggest concern of the proposed government insurance option?
49% - Fear it will grow the size of government
21% - It will take longer for a medical test or procedure
13% - It would be harder to see you doctor
17% - Favor this type of option
It's so easy to craft these so you can get the answer you want, especially when people have little or no knowledge of a subject which is presented ambiguously anyway. I thought I'd make one up of my own as an example.
What is your biggest concern of the proposed lengthening of home-use chainsaw blades?
- Fear it will increase injuries causes by kickbacks
- It would require more maintenance
- The increased weight would make it awkward and uncomfortable
- Favor this type of option