Saturday, March 20, 2010

Disappointment with Representative Stephen Lynch

All of my neighbors are represented by Mike Capuano. I live in one stray precinct within my Ward and downtown Boston that is represented by Stephen Lynch.

For reasons I cannot understand, Congressman Lynch intends to vote against the health care bill in front of the House of Representatives this weekend.

I have written about the health care bill in the past. It's complicated, and because it's complicated, it's easy to create soundbites against it. Even if the soundbites are dead wrong. Like the notion that health care reform means the government is taking over health care. Like in Europe, where (the soundbites continue) you have to wait months for routine procedures because of bureaucratic paperwork.

The health care bill in front of Congress this weekend does not represent a government takeover. It sets up exchanges of health care insurance companies (private companies), and it allows these companies to compete for a large number of potential customers. In that way, it creates competition. Hardly a government-run plan that so many think the bill completely encompasses.

Health care reform is complicated because we all need it and we're willing to pay anything for it in a catastrophe. The popular portions of health care reform are portability (insurance companies can't deny you coverage if you switch plans) and deniability for pre-existing conditions (insurance companies can't deny you coverage for already being sick). However, if these portions were to pass by themselves, there would be no incentive for people to have coverage unless they were sick. And this would bankrupt the insurance companies.

So to pass the things people like, the insurance companies need the government to demand that everyone be covered. And to do that, the government needs to help those who can't afford insurance. And to do that, the government needs to encourage the industry to control costs and be more efficient. Controlling costs inevitably means less revenue and less profit, and private industry doesn't like that. And that's why, beyond the stuff people like, health care reform is hard.

Beyond the soundbites, though, is the fact that healthcare reform is so desperately needed. It's an industry that is weighing down business with its costs. The bill before Congress is far from perfect. But reform is the right thing for all of us. Leaders would know that. And by not supporting the bill, Congressman Lynch is showing a lack of leadership.

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