Friday, June 5, 2009

Health Care Benefits for Workers No Matter Who Pays

I'm approaching 20 letters to the Washington Post since we moved to DC. Clearly, I've too much time on my hands.

Meanwhile, the Post has published one of my letters. This one, submitted Monday, is over their word limit by about 30 percent and probably won't be published, either. But I don't really believe word count is the decisive problem here.

I'm guessing the main difficulty is that I'm generally too critical of the Post (and most other newspapers). Still, I don't think that's my problem. It seems to be a matter of editing and writing that doesn't meet a reasonably high standard. Newspapers in their current form may be on their deathbed, but journalists let the side down a long time ago.

Letter to the Washington Post, #17

Your article, “A Red State Booster Shot (Post, 5/31/09)” asserts that “universal health care … is likely to help red America at the expense of blue [America].” Arguable, yes, but far from proven.

The proposition that government health care reform will end up taxing northern and unionized workers for expansion of health care in red states misses several important points and may be overstated. I say, “may be” because the article does not identify the source for the data it throws around. It's true that most northern states have programs that do a much better job insuring children than do southern states. But the families receiving health coverage through combined state/federal programs certainly will not be taxed on those benefits regardless of the means Congress chooses to pay for health care expansions.

Further, as unionized workers lose their jobs they generally lose their health benefits, as well. This factor accounts more than any other for the recent spike in the numbers of uninsured, a change that probably is not reflected in the data supporting your assertion that blue state workers will be significantly taxed to pay for red state benefits.

Though this is not intended to be an exhaustive critique of the slant implicit in your story, there are any number of ways in which blue states and their residents will benefit from a federal initiative to expand health care coverage no matter how the cost is covered. Here are two:

When large numbers of working people in the south begin receiving health care coverage, it will be despite years of opposition by southern state governments and private employers. This benefit will dampen traditional southern voter hostility to federal government activism and will mean less opposition, if not more support, for other federal initiatives, including changes in labor law aimed at defending workers.

Second, an expanded federal role in providing health insurance means more government leverage for controlling health care cost increases. Such a result will lead to huge benefits for both red and blue state workers and, in the long run, dramatically reduced costs for universal healthcare.

Jeff Epton
807 Taylor St., NE
WDC 20017

202 506-7470

No comments:

Post a Comment