Commentary: Cutting through the smoke screen


Within two weeks of this article being printed about half of the vote for the November elections (Nov. 6) will already be cast via vote by mail. A few of us still like to cast our ballots in person, but like endangered species, we’re almost extinct. Thus it’s important to clarify some of the misinformation being cast about and to repudiate a few of the innuendoes being cast about that cast aspersions on political opponents.

First, let me say I’ve never met Atascadero City Council candidate Susan Funk, but have only heard about her stances from others who heard her speak.

During a speech she gave at a Rotary Club event, Funk waxed eloquent on the need for a single-payer health care system which set off alarm bells among some members of her audience. The issue has absolutely nothing to do with any sitting City Council as that issue will be decided at the state and federal levels, not by any city or county in the state. Nevertheless, it reflects a mind-set desiring ever more growth in government and intrusion into the lives of local citizens, not to mention numerous financial and health-related pitfalls.

The single-payer system being advocated for California by the liberal-Progressive Democrats dominating the State Legislature is a fast-track to bankruptcy for the state. The current state budget is around $150 billion; the single-payer health system is estimated to cost at least $400 billion per year, just for starters. Like every other government program, that cost will likely dramatically escalate over time. When asked how it will be paid for, some Democrat candidates suggest that taxes will only increase 3 percent which is ridiculous; even using “new math” this one-size-fits-all health program will require massive tax increases for everyone. The idea that only “the rich” will pay more is equally absurd. If you confiscated 100 percent of the wealth of all the billionaires and millionaires in California, you wouldn’t pay for this program for even one year. Single-payer health care will result in massive tax increases on everyone, especially the middle class, because that’s where the money is. How else can you virtually triple the California state budget overnight and not have massive personal tax increases?

Our very own State Assemblyman, Jordan Cunningham, recently pointed out that about 93 percent of Californians are currently covered with some type of health insurance with only about 7 percent of the population having no health insurance. The single-payer system ignores this and implies that not everyone receives health care in California, which is wrong. Everyone in California receives health care (via hospital emergency rooms as a last resort; they’re required by law to provide medical care to everyone regardless of ability to pay); what they don’t have is a health insurance plan to cover medical expenses. Cunningham and other State Assembly Republicans advanced a plan last year to provide health insurance to the remaining 7 percent of uncovered state residents, but the Democrat majority killed the bill.

The danger to all of us is that like “Obama Care” which promised “you can keep your doctor” and “it will lower costs,” the proposed California single-payer health insurance plan will devastate existing health insurance plans in California, just as “Obamacare” devastated health insurance plans across the country. No, you couldn’t keep your doctor nor did it lower costs as premiums exploded nationwide. People were forced to buy one-size fits all “tube-sock” health insurance plans inferior to what they previously owned but that cost a great deal more. There’s no reason to believe that California will have a better outcome.

There’s also the threat to Medicare and other programs like Tricare, both federal programs. Californians might be forced to enroll in an inferior state-operated single-payer health insurance program, yet be unable to keep Medicare or its benefits while still required to pay the taxes and premiums for their Medicare health insurance. My own experience with socialized medicine was that while it provided a baseline of coverage its bureaucracy is stifling, diagnostic services are terrible and continuity of care was virtually non-existent. Getting appointments to see a specialist was daunting with wait requirements for specialist appointments normally extending into months, not weeks, if authorized at all.

I also found Ms. Funk’s comments about the current City Council representing partisanship and “not reflecting the variety of needs and opinions in growing community” to be grossly uninformed. Most of the current council members received overwhelming electoral support during multiple elections and continuously receive strong affirmation from their constituents. Nor are current council members “sticks in the mud” as one writer opined. The current City Council is exceptionally proactive as reflected by changes to downtown zoning, aggressive marketing of the City and resulting support from most Chamber of Commerce members for Council efforts to revitalize Atascadero’s downtown. The council’s respect for the rights of individuals, the rule of law and fairness carries great weight with many Atascadero residents. That’s not partisanship, it’s good governance.

The criticism by Ms. Funk and her supporters is more of a reflection of their displeasure at being repeatedly rejected by the voters over the last decade, on issues of policy and sometimes personality, than any deficiency on the part of the City Council.

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