January 22, 2010

Where Health Care Reform Went Wrong

You should be ashamed to endorse the so-called “right to health care” that emerges from the Senate’s December 24 vote (“A Right to Health Care,” January 8).

Beginning with the laudable aim to establish affordable universal health care for all citizens, the Democratic majority has instead settled for a hopelessly compromised nightmare of a bill whose end result is closer to mandated public welfare for private insurers than citizen access to decent health care as an inalienable right.

The real historic meaning of this process is that for the first time a federal program mandates a captive audience for private, for-profit insurers, coercing citizens to buy coverage whether they want it or not, whether they can afford it or not. Rather than purchase under duress an unwanted product at an unaffordable price, millions of the uninsured are instead likely to opt reluctantly for the unfair fine. As a result, the progressive immiseration of the middle class will not only continue, it will accelerate.

By capitulating to the corporate lobbies, the Democrats have squandered their historic opportunity. Understandably disenchanted voters are likely to take out their anger by dissolving the Democrats’ working majority. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory! Who would have thought this outcome possible just 14 months ago? Contrary to your ill-advised apologia, there is nothing to celebrate in this debacle.

In your editorial “A Right to Health Care,” you rightly noted that “Unionized workers will see hard-won medical benefits threatened if the final bill includes the Senate’s proposed tax on high-quality employer-based coverage.”

I would like to point out that many people work for generous non-union companies and small businesses that also offer high-cost plans, and everyone is potentially threatened by this so-called “Cadillac Plan Tax.” It is also important to note that the cost of your dental and vision plans (plus a few other plans) are included in the calculation of what constitutes a “Cadillac Plan” of $8,500 for a single person and $23,000 for a family, making it easier to reach this threshold.

We should oppose this provision in the Senate bill, which along with other provisions in these bills will raise the cost of medical benefits and taxes for all. A more sensible and reasonable approach to health care reform is needed.

Honor Tragic Past by Securing Our Future

Regarding your January 1 article “Local Holocaust Museums Grow Amid Worries About Future,” I would argue that all the Holocaust museums outside the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., should be disbanded and the funds for them should go to local day schools. Designate the funds for the teaching of Jewish history, Hebrew language, and Jewish texts; the museums’ exhibits can reside in the schools as well.

The Jewish community spends too much money and mental energy on its tragic past and not enough on ensuring a bright and vibrant future. We should really concentrate on making sure all of our children have the opportunity to grow up to be passionate and knowledgeable Jews. That would be the best way to honor the memory of those murdered in the Holocaust.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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January 22, 2010

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