Demint’s "Health Care Freedom Plan" Is No Plan At All

What’s with all the thin skin around the GOP lately? Sarah Palin quits her Governorship because Jon Stewart makes fun of her. And now Jim Demint threatens to sue television stations playing a DNC ad stating that “the only health care plan Jim Demint supports is no plan at all.” He says it’s false advertising, because he does support a health care plan, his own lusciously Orwellian sounding “Health Care Freedom Plan.”

According to Demint’s website, his plan

  • “Protects the right of Americans to keep their employer-based plan if they choose to.

  • “Provides Americans without employer-based health insurance with vouchers of $2000 for individuals and $5000 for families to purchase health insurance.
  • “Allows Americans with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to use their HSA funds to pay for insurance premiums, encouraging employers to contribute to their employees’ HSAs.
  • “Creates a national market for health insurance by allowing individuals to purchase health insurance plans in any state.
  • “Provides block grants to states to develop innovative models that ensure affordable health insurance coverage for Americans with preexisting health conditions.
  • “Reduces predatory and frivolous malpractice lawsuits against physicians and hospitals.
  • “Assures that every health care consumer has access to price information prior to treatment so they can make informed decisions about their care.
  • “Repeals financial bailouts (TARP) to fund health care vouchers.

While there are a couple of good ideas here, like the development of models for insuring people with pre-existing conditions and a national health insurance market, those hardly constitute a plan for greatly reducing the costs of health care. But Demint is truly breath-taking in his willful ignorance of reality.

In handing over TARP funds to insurance companies (didn’t we already do that with AIG?), Demint is actually proposing a massive transfer of public dollars to private entities, which sounds strangely like the “socialism” and “government interference in the market” he’s always warning us about. And to assert, as he does, that it would add nothing to the deficit, is a willful act of deceit. The TARP has already added $700 billion to the deficit, in a one-time act of dubious merit. The Health Care Freedom “Plan” would make that a permanent fixture of the budget. In the tradition of George W. Bush, Demint wants crippling deficits forever. He accuses Democrats of adding trillions of dollars to the deficit (a fair charge, as far as it goes), but then proceeds to do the same thing. GOP trillions in the defict are good. Democratic trillions in the deficit are bad.

And that’s not even to argue with his absurd assertion that $5000 a year would buy enough insurance for a family. In my reasonably healthy family (composed currently of two middle-aged adults and two college students) our health insurance costs exceed $14000 a year. I am grateful to my employer for paying $6000 of that, but the other $8000 a year is mine.

That’s not a plan for reducing costs and increasing access to health care. The DNC is right, Jim Demint’s “health care plan” is no plan at all.

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