Sunday, March 16, 2008

Enzi trying to wrangle health care costs

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, one of Wyoming’s two Republicans in the Senate, will be touring the state this week to talk about his "Ten Steps to Transform Health Care in America." It’s subtitle is "Building on Market-based Solutions and Strengthening Current Insurance Programs."

To start, Sen. Enzi gets points for tackling this country’s abysmal health care system. Well, not really a system, more like a haphazard array of insurance company plans that leave 46 million Americans uninsured and many of the rest of us woefully uninsured but paying huge premiums.

According to a press release, Sen. Enzi is hitting the road during spring break to "draw attention to the nation’s health care crisis and the steps Congress can take to wrangle health care costs in America."

I like the term "wrangle." It’s a Wyoming word, one that refers to cowboys herding and caring for horses and other livestock. "Wrangler" is often used in place of "cowboy." We all know who wears Wrangler jeans -- and why.

Enzi wants Congress to wrangle those health care costs, to lasso them in and put them into a fenced corral so they can’t run willy-nilly over the countryside.

O.K., pard, you get points for that. But Enzi’s also a Republican businessman and is seeking market-based solutions. We’ve had market-based solutions. They’ve solved nothing and led to a huge mess.

Two other U.S. senators were in Wyoming recently talking about their health care plans. Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton both have realistic plans which address the fact that government must be a partner in health care. They also address the unsavory fact that the health care industry is a monster, consisting of insurance companies and hospitals and doctors and drug companies. They make billions annually and employ herds of lobbyists. If anything needs wrangling, it’s those lobbyists. Wouldn’t you like to put your brand on a drug company lobbyist’s flank? Yee-hah!

Our future needs some futuristic thinking. For the most part, Sen. Enzi’s plan is more of the same. There are a few good ideas embedded in the list. Cross-state pooling of health plans, and insurance portability when you change jobs – those deserve a listen. But he would also privatize Medicaid and SCHIP. I know for a fact that both of those programs are crucial for many in Wyoming.

This is the old Republican song-and-dance of privatization, where the free market can solve anything, including health care, Social Security, etc. President Bush tried to pull a fast one on Social Security and it didn’t go anywhere because Americans are wise to the ploy. He also monkeyed around with a plan crucial to older people and older people vote.

You can read Sen. Enzi’s full plan at his web site.

Here’s his travel schedule for the week:

Cheyenne: 8-9 a.m. at the Cheyenne Depot (121 W. 15th St.)
Rawlins: 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Rawlins Depot (400 W. Front St.)
Rock Springs: 4-5 p.m. at Western Wyo. Community College, Room #1302 (2500 College Dr.)
Pinedale: 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sublette County Library (155 S. Tyler)
Lander : 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at The Inn at Lander in the Pinnacle Room (260 Grand View Dr.)
Worland: 4 to 5 p.m. at the Worland Community Center (1200 Culbertson Ave.)
Lovell: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lovell Community Center (1925 Highway 310)
Casper: 1 to 2 p.m. at the Community Health Ctr. of Central Wyo. auditorium (1522 E. A St.)
Lusk: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Niobrara County High School auditorium (702 W. 5th St.)
Gillette: 9 to 10 a.m. at City Hall in the Community Meeting Room (201 E. 5th St.)


kainah said...

Has Enzi ever (as in, EVER?) held a public meeting in Laramie? Just asking.

Michael Shay said...

Don't know. He may be be fearful that Liberals will attend and ask pointed questions.