Monday, October 20, 2008

Voting the Issues

This seemed to be a good day for folks interested in health care as a political issue. First, this morning on Day to Day, they compared Senator Obama and McCain's health care plans. Trudy Lieberman explained that under McCain's plan families would get a $5000 tax credit to buy health care, but

(a) this wouldn't grow as health care costs went up,
(b) average cost for health care for a family of 4 is $12,000, and
(c) if you get health care from your employer, you'll have to start paying taxes on it.

For the latter, I'm not sure what happens if you work for a self-insured company like Microsoft - would I pay taxes on a set amount per year that Microsoft pays to "insure" me or would I pay taxes on any money spent on my personal health care? If it's the latter, it seems like people who are really sick could potentially end up losing income because they have to go on disability at the same time they might have to pay astronomical tax bills. Obama's plan is supposed to allow anyone currently insured by Medicare or their employer to keep their current coverage while people who don't have either will have the opportunity to buy "government" insurance. The latter is a little unclear, but at least it doesn't sound catastrophic like McCain's plan. I can't see how his plan helps a single person, but it certainly could hurt quite a few.

Then, on Marketplace Jeremy Hobson interviewed some laid off Wall Street workers about what regulations they thought were needed and would influence their vote in the next election. One of them was laid off in February and while he had enough money to cover expenses, the fact that he lost his health care as part of losing his job meant his health care bills shot through the roof right when his income tanked. (Correction: as my good friend B, who worked in the benefits industry in a former life, points out, he didn't really lose his health care, but he had to start paying for COBRA out of pocket.) I hadn't really thought about the fact that having health care tied to your job really means you get hit right when you're down, but it just shows that even Obama's plan doesn't go far enough in really providing health care as a right to all Americans as it is in every other developed country.

Ultimately this election I'm doing a lot of voting against people. I'm voting against Dino Rossi rather than for Chris Gregoire for Governor because he's a creepy lackey for business organizations. I'm voting against Toby Nixon rather than for Roger Goodman for State Senator because Toby sent a flame mail complaining about something I'd done at work years ago that had no basis in reality (go ahead and call me petty, but I'm not voting for him!). And I'm voting against McCain (and most decidedly against Palin - don't even get me started there!) rather than for Obama. McCain's crazy health care plan is just one more item on the list of reasons I think it would be a disaster if he won.

15 days and counting.