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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

austerity politics « Previous | |Next »
January 18, 2011

As I've mentioned in previous posts the politics of austerity is in full swing in Europe where it is targeting the welfare state. In Britain it is the National Health Service that is being targeted:--- the reforms of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrat Coalition mean that the new private entrants grow at the expense of the old state ones.

RowsonMNHS.jpg Martin Rowson

It is Schumpter's process of creative destruction organized by a neo-liberal state. As the NHS budget shrinks, as new providers enter the market, some old ones will have to go to the wall. The new act gives the health secretary no authority to intervene: price competition, enforced by EU law, will alone ordain which services live or die. The market will be used to ensure that weak providers are forced out.

The hard edge to this politics of austerity is highlighted by Paul Krugman in reference to the politics espoused by the Republican Party in the US with respect to the reform the private health insurance system:

The key to understanding the G.O.P. analysis of health reform is that the party’s leaders are not, in fact, opposed to reform because they believe it will increase the deficit. Nor are they opposed because they seriously believe that it will be “job-killing” (which it won’t be). They’re against reform because it would cover the uninsured — and that’s something they just don’t want to do. And it’s not about the money. As I tried to explain in my last column, the modern G.O.P. has been taken over by an ideology in which the suffering of the unfortunate isn’t a proper concern of government, and alleviating that suffering at taxpayer expense is immoral, never mind how little it costs

This harshness is what I find hard to accept, especially when most people who are underinsured or uninsured today in the US are hard working, tax paying, currently employed people. Some have lost coverage due to the loss of a job during the economic crisis, but they are actively seeking employment, they aren't just lazy and wanting a free ride. They are self-employed, work for a company that doesn't offer health benefits, or live pay check to pay check and simply can not afford the rapidly rising cost of insurance or healthcare in the US.

Fifty million uninsured, the highest per-capita costs in the world, millions of people pushed into bankruptcy by medical bills, worse health outcomes than most of the industrialized world? Fundamental healthcare should be part of the social safety net in which in which affordable and universal healthcare is a given.

This is opposed because one of the Republican Party's tacit political principles is inequality. They accept that health care should be controlled by an team of insurance-company bureaucrats, whose bonuses and promotions depend on denying your claims and limiting your care.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:23 AM | | Comments (2)


polling in the US has found that of all age groups, the elderly leaned the most toward the Republicans and were the most hostile to health-care reform.

No other age group depends more on federal spending, particularly for health care, but that did not deter a majority of seniors from voting for candidates who deplored "big government" and "socialized medicine."


The Obama administration's Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) achieved one big thing -- covering some 32 million more Americans -- but made limited progress toward the other major change that is needed: reforming the way health care in the US is delivered and payed for.

Delivery-system reform means creating new ways of taking care of people, usually with more of a focus on primary care and on coordination among doctors, specialists, hospitals and patients.

It means gradually shifting from a health care system that responds to acute episodic diseases, to one that addresses the growing burden of an aging population with slowly progressing chronic diseases.

Reforms to payment for the delivery of care involve stopping paying doctors, particularly specialists who are already paid way more than primary care physicians, in ways that perpetuate the flaws of the fee-for-service system. Start paying them in ways that reward smart care, not just abundant care.