Health Care, Republican All-Purpose Talking Points

Dear Group,

Republican Leah Vukmir, a Wisconsin state senator, is challenging Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for Baldwin’s seat in U.S. Senate. In 2009 Vukmir voted against a bill in the Wisconsin state house requiring insurance companies to cover hearing aids and cochlear implants for Wisconsin children. Vukmir was one of few who voted against the bill. Twice. The bill became law in spite of Vukmir. Recently, the mother of a child who received a cochlear implant using the coverage mandated by the law spoke out in an ad against Vukmir’s candidacy. The flap over the ad was covered on Wisconsin Public Radio. See if Vukmir’s defense sounds familiar:

Vukmir’s campaign manager, Jess Ward, pushed back on the criticism, saying Vukmir opposes, “government-run, one-size-fits-all healthcare.”

“As a nurse, Leah believes in providing patients with plans suited to their needs, and she opposes plans that increase costs for all patients, making health care less affordable,” Ward said.

She added Vukmir believes such changes also lead to fewer options and diminished health care quality for consumers.

Vukmir’s defense is familiar because it is Republican/Libertarian boilerplate (see the P.S. below). I have heard the same nonsensical talking points from every Republican who speaks on health care and health insurance, at both a state and federal level. Most certainly that includes McMorris Rodgers.

Republican’s always conflate health care and health insurance.Their fundamental objection is to any government regulation of business, specifically the business of health insurance. “Leah believes in providing patients with plans suited to their needs, and she opposes plans that increase costs for all patients, making health care less affordable,”  

Her statement should go this way: “Leah believes health insurance companies should be able to offer hard to comprehend, sub-standard insurance policies that do not protect the consumer from medical bankruptcy. Leah believes an inexpensive insurance premium for barebones coverage equals affordable health care.” That is nonsense.

Health insurance is merely a complicated vehicle, a middle man, a clearing house, for paying bills from a health care “system” that has not been a free market for more than half a century. Anyone who has ever looked at an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) knows the only thing regulating the charges posted by the health care system is public outrage, and in the case of drug prices even public outrage has limited utility. Health insurance companies actually blunt public outrage by serving as a buffer between health care charges and the patients they insure. (Note: Serving as a buffer, i.e. averaging cost over a subscriber population, is what insurance companies are expected to do.)

The only way in which health insurance companies regulate health care charges is through mostly opaque business deals concerning what insurance will cover at all, what it will “allow” (i.e. pay) for a given service, and whether the provider will accept the payment offered. What the patient can pay or is willing to pay for health care is not a significant factor. This arrangement has no guard rails. This system resulted in an aggregate average health care expenditure per person of over $10,000, more than twice that of many countries that provide better average care.

The spokesperson added: “…Vukmir believes such changes [changes like requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for hearing aids and cochlear implants] also lead to fewer options and diminished health care quality for consumers.”  If you are able to construct a rational train of thought leading to that conclusion you are doing better than I. 

The Republican/Libertarian party’s acolytes keep repeating the same words over and over,  They don’t stand up to inspection. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. If you know Vukmir’s background it should come as no surprise she is spouting boilerplate Republican ideology. Vukmir served as the national chairwoman for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) “think tank” and clearing house. ALEC was set up to aid state legislators in sharing Republican legislative ideology. It provides boilerplate language for Republican bills at the state level. ALEC is heavily supported by the Koch brothers donor network as a way of dominating and homogenizing Republican ideology across the fifty states. If you are not already familiar with ALEC you should be. Read the wikipedia article for a start. 

Note the ALEC’s expropriation of “American,” It should be the “Republican” Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC was founded in the 1973 in response to the infamous Powell Memorandum.

P.P.S. At one time I thought Republicans who spouted this “healthcare” mantra were purposefully deceitful. No longer. I now believe most of them simply lack the bandwidth and education to understand economic reality.