Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Missouri Voters Have Spoken

In the primary election held a week ago today, Missouri voters overwhelmingly voted Yes on Proposition C. This should be of interest even for those of you who do not live in Missouri, for as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch stated (or maybe overstated) on August 4, “Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a federal mandate to purchase health insurance, rebuking President Barack Obama's administration and giving Republicans their first political victory in a national campaign to overturn the controversial health care law passed by Congress in March.
I was firmly opposed to Proposition C, but I expected it to be approved. My guess was that maybe 55% would vote Yes; I was sadly surprised and astounded that the approval vote was slightly over 71%. As most people don’t vote in primary elections, that 71% represents fewer than 16% of the registered voters in Missouri (based on 2008 figures). But it also means that fewer than 6.5% of Missouri voters expressed support of a key provision of the healthcare plan passed by the U.S. Congress.
As the news media have correctly pointed out, the Missouri vote is largely symbolic. If federal courts uphold the health-care law (which is likely), it would take precedence over any state law that contradicts it. If federal courts override the Missouri vote (which, again, is likely), there would be no need for states to challenge it. Still, it is clearly a propaganda victory for those who oppose the President and what has come to be dubbed “Obamacare.”
More than 700,000 Missourians don’t have health insurance and the state’s hospitals spent more than $830 million in 2008 providing care for these individuals. For that reason, the Missouri Hospital Association spent $400,000 warning people that voting for Proposition C was against their own best interests. But Missouri voters did not listen. They, apparently, didn’t want the government taking away their “freedom.”
But people now already don’t have the freedom not to buy car insurance, not to wear seat belts, not to use car seats for children, etc. That lack of freedom is considered necessary for the public good. Thus it seems that the opposition to compulsory health insurance is far more political than it is reasonable.
Of course, the main motivation for many voting Yes was probably their fear that they might be required to help provide insurance for the large number of people who do not currently have health insurance. But as I have written on this blog previously, the need for everyone to have some kind of health insurance is the primary reason for favoring the national health care plan.
At the time of the primary election, I made a couple of postings on Facebook encouraging people to vote against Proposition C. One person responded by writing, “Yes = Capitalism; No = Socialism.” It seems to me that it is probably more accurate to say, “Yes = Selfishness; No = Concern for the poor and needy.” But Missouri voters have spoken, and some of us are quite disappointed at what they have said.


  1. Interesting observations, Leroy. Here are a couple more. Voter turnout in Missouri was 22%. In Kansas City, turnout was at or below 10%. Obviously people in the rural areas contributed most to the 71% passage of Prop C.

    People here don't like to be told what to do, but you rightly point out examples of mandatory car insurance and seat belts.

    By law hospitals must provide emergency care to everyone who walks through their doors. Those who will opt out of mandatory health coverage will be provided for through the uncompensated care burdens hospitals undertake. Who will pay for that? The paying patients and their insurance carriers through higher fees/rates and premiums, not to mention the liklihood of higher tax levies hospitals will ask voters to approve.

    As in most things, it will be a matter for the justices of the Supreme Court to decide. I wonder how many of those nine justices are opting out of their government health care plans.

    And why this aversion to government overseeing health care coverage? Approximately 50% of all Americans are covered under government run health care now...federal employees/elected officials/judges/justices, military service personnel, veterans, those on Medicare and Medicaid.

    Finally, consider the preamble of our Constitution. to rediscover the people we were and strive to be. Read it with the subject of health care in mind and see how well it rings in striving to create a more perfect Union, insure our domestic tranquility, establish justice, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty. This is not a statement concerned about "freeloaders." It is a statement of common good, of being in it together.

  2. I think that the point is being missed here. This is a Pyrrhic victory which is just a squirmish in larger drive to accumulate power. Howard Dean stated this past weekend that the mandate for healthcare coverage is unnecessary, because the second leg of this "health care reform" stands. In particular, insurers will be required to take everyone with any and all existing conditions. Since insurance is in the business of managing risks, the insurance companies risks will go through the roof and they will be forced into the "death spiral". It is with this endgame in mind that Howard Dean and other progressive will then be able to usher in their utopian single payer system. By keeping a requirement that everyone has health insurance, the progressives utopian dream is pushed further down the road. This is just a chess game among the elites in which we are just "fortunate" to be the pawns between two large groups (political statists and business oligopolies). There are multiple other avenues which can be pursued but that involves diminishing the power of the political ruling class and the multinational oligopolies.

  3. Here is most of an e-mail received yesterday:

    "I always find it fascinating in these kinds of things that usually the people who vote against healthcare and other government programs are usually the people who could most use them . . . and not necessarily the rich. . . .I wonder what that means and why the message of care and concern that motivates those of us who want these government programs to be available is missing its target audience and falls on so many deaf ears.

    "I don’t think people are saying no out of selfishness, it is something deeper than that."

  4. One comment about the previous comment: I certainly wouldn't say that everyone who voted Yes, or people who oppose healthcare such as the example given by the person who wrote the comment above, are doing so only because of selfishness.

    Some, of not many, of those who vote against the best interests of society are do so because of their political position. In the case of healthcare, as in other matters, they are just opposed to anything President Obama is for.

  5. Dr. E. Glenn Hinson wrote in an e-mail received yesterday,

    "That's distressing, Leroy. I think you have written a convincing response and fingered the real reason for the Yes vote--fear of having to care for others."

  6. A comment received in an e-mail from a local Thinking Friend:

    "Leroy, I am like you, perplexed. People just aren't thinking. [My husband] has been debating the health care issue with friends at the golf course, he being the only one who is for some form of National Health Plan. I urged him to counter with the fact that auto insurance is now the law and that in the end--purely for practical reasons--saves all of us money and stress when an accident happens. Of course, national health insurance for all would do the same--besides the fact that folks everywhere, no matter their illness or plight could receive the treatment they need. But these buddies of his and others we know, just won't budge. I think in their hearts they hate Obama and want to see him and his ideas fail."

  7. From another local Thinking Friend:

    "I was not surprised about the vote against health care in Missouri. I think it was a foolish vote. We'll see how the Supreme Court deals with this. I don't think the hospital association was clear as to the costs of a vote in favor of the proposal. I do think that Robin Carnahan will have difficulty with Roy Blunt and with Missouri voters when this issue comes up in the debate before the November elections. I'm puzzled why Democrats didn't put much money to oppose the proposition."