Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Something worth screaming about

Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic Party and onetime presidential candidate, is a bit of a strange bird, but I think he’s absolutely correct when he says the health-care reform bill emerging from the Senate is a piece of garbage because it doesn’t offer consumers a real alternative and actually gives more clout to private insurance companies. Said Dean today in a “Good Morning America” interview, “You will be forced to buy insurance. If you don’t, you’ll pay a fine. It’s an insurance company bailout. This is an insurance company’s dream. This is the Washington scramble, and it’s a shame.” Dean also claimed that the Senate bill, as currently crafted, would allow the insurance industry to hammer older people with higher premiums while still denying people coverage because of pre-existing conditions. If Dean is correct, it’s hard to see a whole lot that’s positive about the Senate legislation. Without any public option, it’s hard for me to fathom that there will be much in the way of cost control. And covering millions more people only because you're compelling them to buy coverage isn’t much of an achievement. I'm really afraid that this process has devolved into such a purely political mess that it might be better to do nothing than to approve a measure that could end up doing more harm than good. If the Democrats are smart, and the jury is still out on that, they would do well to abandon the issue, because by approving bad legislation, they'd be making a silver-platter delivery of a rallying cry for Republicans in the midterm elections. By dropping reform efforts, Democrats could say – and they would be absolutely correct in saying so – that Republicans were a “party of no” who stood in the way of meaningful improvements in our health-care system.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you surprised? Seriously? Americans don't want government involved in healthcare. Keep Washington away from my uterus. Government is the opposite of freedom. Government is the problem, not the solution.

December 16, 2009 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger MJ said...

And yet, I love all the teabaggers who marched on Washington yesterday protesting socialized medicine. Maybe we should join them?

December 16, 2009 at 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a shame these morons in Congress can't out aside political showcasing for once and actually do something that's right for the country in the long run. If they can't drastically improve on the current system, why rush through a bill just to say they did? Worst thing is, even if we changed the makeup of Congress in 2010, nothing will change because anyone running for Congress has the same ridiculous mindset.

December 16, 2009 at 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just sad. It looked so promising just a week ago. I sure hope Joe Lieberman is voted out of office! As Move said, "who elected him president?" what a conniving, manipulative, egotistical politician - worse than most. But back to the topic at hand...what can we do to make our voices heard that we don't want this plan to go through?

December 16, 2009 at 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am appalled at how Reid and the Obama administration are willing to accept pseudo reform for the sake of saving face! I agree with Dean, scrap this effort and start all over again. It seems all we are going to get in the way of health care reform is something Democrats can use for their reelection campaigns versus something that will really help those falling through the cracks.

December 16, 2009 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous X ANONYMOUS said...

Maybe the dems will get off their high horses and actually come up with a plan less than 2500 pages and that really cuts the cost of health care instead of making them raise.

I say good job Howard Dean! What is funny, if the dems could have passed the bill they should have, but they are going to make it a campaign promise that they will fail on!

Now lets hear about that crook Deweese!

December 17, 2009 at 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

President Obama's comments after the Dems met with him at the WH two days ago typify the matter. He said:

"... we can't let individual differences on certain elements of this bill stop the legislation from going forward ..." Now, I might not have quite all the right words, but the "differences," "elements," and "stop" were certainly part of his statement.

What the President was saying, "we shouldn't care what is in this bill, and how we might differ on the components of the bill, we just need to pass something so that we can claim health care reform." To be sure, there are differences in certain elements of the bill! That is what legislative drafting and negotiation is about. The contents of certain components is what makes one piece of legislation good, and another piece bad. Pres Obama's statement was a very stupid thing to have said. I sense the closed-door meeting may have been very heated, and some had not come down from their positions before statements were made.

At this point, the process looks to be in total disarray. As somebody pointed out above, Sen Lieberman may (should?) be voted out because of his negotiating stance. Then so too should the senator from Louisiana. She got a huge chunk of change for her region to rebuild the ill-conceived city below sea level. Now, the Nebraska senator is holding out for his piece, with the WH threat of closing the air base in Nebraska if Nelson doesn't come around. These kinds of horse-trading deals, in the open, are what makes the voters sick of the Wash DC scene. It happens on both sides, so no pokes at the Dems here. In this case, it is open, above board, blatant, and disgusting.

While the senate is in Majority Leader Reid's control, he is just running scatter-brained, from day to day, trying to throw "new mud on the wall," seeing what sticks. The proposal for Medicare at age 55 was given five, maybe ten, seconds of thought before it was put forward. As much as I dislike Dean, he and others from the far left have put the right stick in the pot. Shut'er down, now.

December 17, 2009 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

There is still a significant number of people who continue to swoon at everything Obama says. From ABC News' website:

ABC's Karen Travers reports from Washington:

President Obama told ABC News’ Charles Gibson in an interview that if Congress does not pass health care legislation that will bring down costs, the federal government “will go bankrupt.”

Please. I can't imagine anyone buying that line. Not after the billions and billions of bailout money that was tossed around like confetti. The House and the Senate should stop the politicking and just consider what's good for the country. Alas, with all the money involved with health care and the insurance industry, it's likely overwhelming to these politicos...they're drooling at the special interest pork they can introduce to get their cut.

December 17, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Lori said...

..they're drooling at the special interest pork they can introduce to get their cut.
PRIguy, you got that right.
And passing a load of crap just so they can claim Health Care Reform is absurd but is unfortunately a true statement. They can always find a way to blame the Rep's should it fail miserably like we know it will.

December 17, 2009 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Obama and I believe that he has the best interest of the country at heart. He is president at a trying time in history, but it doesn't help to have a recalcitrant opposition party or a bunch of cement heads in his own party who think they should oppose everything the Republicans say simply because the Republicans do likewise. However, I don't like this rush to "cure" our current health care system with a package that's no better and may be worse. I believe that Obama's economic policies will work over the long haul. What worries me most is the progressive polarization of a political system that already was pretty far apaart. There seems to be no middle ground in America.

December 17, 2009 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I have to disagree with you, Brant. While I think we should have been spending the summer months compromising on single-payer and ended at a robust public option... It is obvious, however, that we aren't going to overhaul things in one fell swoop. 54 senators would vote for a public options. That means two things... 1) We aren't going to get a public option in Round 1 and 2) We will get a public option in Round 2. When will round two come? Will it be within the next decade? IF the current legislation is as woefully inept at reining in prices as a lot of us are saying, a public option will be an absolute necessity given a few years' lead time. If premiums continue to rise at double-digit rates, a public option AND an expansion of medicare will probably be passed with overwhelming support within 10 years. If the current legislation DOES reign in prices and covers an additional 30 million people without bankrupting them (I doubt this scenario will come to fruition), then we won't have a public option for 100 years because it won't be necessary. One thing is certain, though... Round 2 will NEVER happen if we don't win on Round 1. And yes, that is a purely political statement. If the democrats do not WIN this partisan battle soon, they will not win it in the foreseeable future. If they scrap the current legislation and "start over"--- what does that mean? Do we start over with single payer and try to pass that through a senate that won't even vote 2/3 yay on allowing people to BUY MEDICARE? Do we start with a public option? The same public option that was dropped like an underhanded toss to Limas Sweed? Do we play the abortion game again? Do we make the connection that if federal funds are used for something that then frees up money previously allocated to abortions, then it's as if you are forcing Ben Nelson to actually perform the abortion? Hell, if that's the case, Pell Grants fund abortions! How many college chicks wouldn't be able to afford an abortion if they didn't have that Pell Grant money to pay tuition?

They have to win, now. Yeah, it sounds horrible that they have to pass something for the sake of passing something. But if they don't pass something, they effectively lost to the teabaggers and Sarah Palin's facebook page. They have to pass something now that contains the basic framework upon which something meaningful can be added later. And once they pass Round 1, Round 2 has to start IMMEDIATELY.

December 17, 2009 at 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

e : "...Yeah, it sounds horrible that they have to pass something for the sake of passing something. But if they don't pass something, they effectively lost to the teabaggers and Sarah Palin's facebook page."

Unbelievable!!! This sounds like the same unbelievable statement Obama made.

Not passing something now has nothing to do with the opposition party, rather it has ONLY to do with those within the Democratic party. Why else did they cater to the Louisiana senator (D). Why else have they threatened the Nebraska senator (D)? Why are the folks outraged? Why is Howard Dean outraged? All these situations are unrelated to those on the (R) side. There is no loosing to the teabaggers or Palin (you yourself have repeated over and over -- they are of no consequence). These so-called opposition forces are without any power (again, ideas advanced by yourself).

Passing something for the sake of passing something. What a way for government to work ---- NOT!

No need of even asking about the "saving money" comments in your post. Nobody has yet to venture into that morass in an satisfactory effort to explain. Health insurance is independent of health care costs, hence nobody is able to explain. Trying to curtail costs through insurance is a failed strategy from the beginning. Curtailing costs through reduction of fraud, tort reform, etc. makes sense, but not through the insurance path.

December 17, 2009 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger MJ said...

Will y'all do me a favor and google "Medicare Part D" and "Senate vote" and tell me if the Republicans needed 60 to pass that monstrosity onto us in 2003 No... they needed 54 votes, and look what we have today. Deficits as far as the eye will see.

December 17, 2009 at 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry if this doesn't get passed this time. We will be back in about five years when the insurance industry collapses under the weight of small business owners canceling coverage because the cost will have doubled by then.

There are similarities to this situation and the housing bubble. People loved their houses, but couldn't afford them. People love their health care but at some point, it won't be affordable. Costs rise from 12 to 15 percent a year.

Imagine having to pay about $25K to cover an employee. That's before the first penny of salary is spent. How long do you think that situation can sustain itself.

Churchill said that American find the right way to do things, only when they have exhausted all the wrong ways. We are on that path.

December 18, 2009 at 8:40 PM  
Anonymous smut said...

MJ we started to go broke in 1913, it took somewhere around 13 years to break us.

Audit and end the FED!

December 19, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Anonymous SOFT KILL said...

let me ask you so called liberals a question. WHEN, not if! OBAMACARE passes and it and it will, and it breaks the backbone of America, are you going to take blame for that?

I have read all types of crap on here. ALL THE COOL COUNTRIES HAVE FREE HEALTH CARE. GUESS WHAT! IT'S NOT FREE. NOTHING IS FREE! We will all pay. You like the look of avg citizen in the thrid world nations? Well get use to it, cause we are going to look just like them soon.

December 19, 2009 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

"let me ask you so called liberals a question. WHEN, not if! OBAMACARE passes and it and it will, and it breaks the backbone of America, are you going to take blame for that?"

I'd love to "take blame" for a public option, an expansion of medicare, or single payer... but alas, all those things are no more. All I can really hope for at this point is for a) the current bill works as promised b) the current bill fails, the system collapses, and single payer is the only recourse or c) something dramatic happens, such as scrapping the current bill and immediately starting the process of reconciliation with the original house bill.


You must not have read very closely... I don't think anyone has ever talked about "free" health care... First, we wanted a single payer system whereby universal coverage would be provided through either an income or payroll tax that would be paid by everyone who earns income or is on a payroll. Then, when that was out, we wanted a robust public option that we could BUY from the government. When that was gone, we wanted an expansion of medicare where people 55-64 could BUY medicare coverage.
None of the "cool countries" I know of have "free" health care... but they do generally get theirs for between 30-50% less than what we pay.

"We will all pay."

Yeah... the whole point was for us all to pay a little less.

"You like the look of avg citizen in the thrid world nations?"

I think you may be confusing the "cool countries" with "thrid (sic) world nations..." Last I checked, England, France, Sweden, Germany, and Norway weren't all that bad. But hey, Iraq has government health care, courtesy of the constitutional consultants provided by the Bush administration.

"Well get use to it, cause we are going to look just like them soon."

This is actually borderline accurate! Yes, we do have a bit of potential to look like a REAL third world nation when we are legitimately bankrupted by the private insurance industry.

Hey, by the way... Since there is no single payer, no public option, and no expansion of medicare... how does this still constitute a "government takeover?"

Oh, and to the other anonymous (12/17)... I will try to address your points tomorrow morning. G'night! ;-)

December 19, 2009 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger theywilltakeyourlastpenny said...

I believe something needs to be done to our health care system. Mostly stopping insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, putting the brakes on health insurance companies raising those rates every year along with the doctors raising their rates for service every year.

They (Capitol Hill) complains that we are paying for the uninsured everytime they go into the emergency room. Well I am paying for the insured everytime they go to the doctors. I have been lucky enough not to have to use my insurance in years and I pay every month out of pocket for my insurance coverage. How about a rate deduction depending on how much we use our insurance during the year! If I live to be an elderly person then maybe I will finally get my money out of my insurance company!

As for those that complained on here about the Democrats or Republicans all I can say is please watch your Congress and Senate in session sometime (C-Span). I am all for term limits! Both sides need a reality check..........and if you have noticed Obama, nor Bush could not sign any bills into law until the fools on the hill pass them along to the White House. I don't find any of our Presidents as scary as that Nightmare On Capitol Hill, very, very weird bunch!

December 20, 2009 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

"Not passing something now has nothing to do with the opposition party, rather it has ONLY to do with those within the Democratic party."

Why has it come to that? Because the opposition party is unanimously against any big-ticket legislation favored by this administration. First, they said it was a government takeover-- which single payer would have been, legitimately. Single payer was never even on the table. Then, they said that it would lead to government death panels by way of comparative analysis boards designed to keep the public option rates low. The public option is gone. When the medicare buy-in was proposed, it was back to the "takeover" verbiage. That's gone. So, there's no takeover, no death panels, no government rationing (no public option, so there isn't a government plan through which rationing can take place), no public option, no expansion of medicare... and how many republican votes do we have now that all their objections have been circumcised from the bill? 0. So, naturally, that allows for ANY democrat in the senate to wish for unicorns and leprechauns and magic beans and so on and so forth... which they have. Hell, the republicans don't even have to vote for the bill itself! Just vote to close cloture and stop debate. They can still vote unanimously against the bill itself!

"No need of even asking about the "saving money" comments in your post. Nobody has yet to venture into that morass in an satisfactory effort to explain. Health insurance is independent of health care costs, hence nobody is able to explain."

What percentage of health care costs-- payment for health care services rendered are paid for by insurance, rather than out of pocket? 85%. Health care is 1/6th of the economy and 85% of that is paid for by private insurers, medicare, medicaid, VA, and state insurance plans. The health care industry sets its prices based on what the insurance plans will pay for. If an insurance company will sign off on payment of 5 dollars for an aspirin, guess what? Aspirin will cost 5 dollars at the hospital. If an insurance company will only pay 100 dollars for blood work, then blood work costs 100 dollars. Insurance is the payer, therefore, the price is set at a point that the payer will pay. I've used the example before... in Japan, their national health insurance pays 85 dollars for an MRI. Therefore, an MRI costs 85 dollars in Japan.

"Curtailing costs through reduction of fraud, tort reform, etc. makes sense, but not through the insurance path."

You left off the "holy spirit" in the GOP health plan trinity- selling over state lines.

What is the estimated savings by reducing fraud and enacting tort reform? I've seen estimates no higher than 3%, if I recall correctly. Doesn't Texas have some of the strictest medical tort laws in the country? How much less is a policy from a Texas insurer than it is from, say, a Wisconsin insurer? But I will give you this one... tort reform, ending the state-border restrictions on insurance sales, and making specific fraud reduction goals should have been added to the original bill for the simple reason that they don't do chit, but they don't cost chit. Please don't try to blow smoke up my azz by saying that John Boehner or Jim Thune or any other republicans would be eager to vote for the bill if we added such petty additions.

By the way... if there is a central insurance exchange pool from which people could buy coverage, wouldn't that count as purchasing out of state? Also, it's not like all of these insurance companies operate in only one state... Cigna, Aetna, BC/BS... I can buy Highmark BC/BS here in Pittsburgh... or I can move to Raleigh, NC and buy a BC/BS policy. What is the estimated per capita savings of those three actions (tort reform, state lines, fraud reduction)?

December 20, 2009 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

Who cares at this point? No one is happy, regardless of your party affiliation. The health insurance lobbyists wrote the rules, and now we're all going to pay. No matter who wins, we all lose.

December 20, 2009 at 12:04 PM  
Anonymous x anonymous said...



Gordon Brown calls for new group to police global environment issues

WTF! This is so 1984! Brown is a lefty... Obama is a lefty.... I want to ask you liberals, where do I get those funny hats you all wear? Cause if we can't beat ya, we will have to join ya.

Just think, maybe Obama will have a new group of police in America. The cap and trade police? Home inspections. It would help with the unemployment numbers.

December 21, 2009 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

X, I usually buy my hats at LIDS. It's a store in the mall. They're about $24.99 and you can get a variety of sports teams.

December 21, 2009 at 12:35 PM  
Anonymous x said...

MJ, Lookie.. if I can't get it at Tractor Supply, I can't get it. Or I have to take a 60 mile trip to town!

December 21, 2009 at 3:18 PM  

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