Tag Archives: Medicare

Do Lobbyists Need Three Days to Read Health Reform Bill?

Republican Senator Pat Roberts thinks so. After saying publicly he wouldn’t vote for the bill now before the Senate Finance Committee, Roberts pleads for more time not so he can read the bill, but so lobbyists can. Here’s a direct quote. “The thing I’m trying to point out is that we would have at least 72 hours for the people that the providers have hired to keep up with all the legislation that we pass around here, and the regulations we pass around here, to say “Hey, wait a minute. Have you considered this?” That’s all I’m asking for.”

Now granted, the bill now before the Finance Committee contains some 564 amendments. That may be a lot of reading, but what makes Roberts or anyone else think those amendments weren’t written at the behest of the same people he’s shilling for? Talk about being in someone’s pocket!

Fact is, Republicans on the committee and throughout the Senate want healthcare reform to die a slow death. Sad to say, some Democrats are helping them out in this endeavor. It’s been said before, and it needs to be said again. Any bill that doesn’t contain a public option is no healthcare reform at all. President Obama should stand up right now and say he won’t sign such a bill.

We’ve written before about the cold fear conservatives have about government competing with those big insurance companies which fund their lawmakers and many organizations that oppose reform. They frame it in “government can’t do anything right” language, but they fear government may do its job too well. They know Medicare and Medicaid, while not perfect, keep administrative costs at about half the level of private insurance companies.

And what does Pat Roberts really believe about healthcare reform? Well, here’s another quote.

“I hear from Kansans all of the time who wonder why it is necessary to completely and radically change our system of health care in order to gain insurance coverage for a relatively small number of uninsured Americans.

“They’re not heartless- they just don’t think that we need to sacrifice a system that works well for some three-quarters of this country, and spend trillions of dollars that we don’t have, when there are other, more targeted options to reduce costs and increase insurance coverage.”

So that one quarter of the country, those tens of millions of people for whom the current system doesn’t work are just out of luck, eh, Senator? Maybe you should talk to some of those who had insurance, only to be arbitrarily dropped when they got sick. Or people who had to declare bankruptcy as the only alternative to the spiraling cost of care for a chronic illness.

Maybe the question posed at the top of this blog is the wrong one. Maybe it should be “Do our lawmakers have any clue about how America really lives?” Well, do they? You tell me.

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Death Panel? What Death Panel?

So now Sarah Palin, private citizen, weighs in on healthcare via (what else?) Facebook.

She calls President Obama’s healthcare reform “downright evil”, and opines it will create a “death panel” that would determine who gets access to care. Death panel indeed! Where do they get this stuff from?

In this case, Palin’s fears about her son Trig and her parents have to do with a provision in the House healthcare reform bill that would provide VOLUNTARY end of life counseling to terminally ill patients. Somehow, and no one seems to be sure exactly how, that’s been turned into euthanasia, and medicine circa 1930s Germany (I’m not making this up).

So I guess this is what Palin means by trying to “effect change” from outside her elected office. Nice try. Combine Palin’s utter nonsense (and the attention it’s getting) with the disruption of town hall meetings on healthcare reform, and you have a small but vocal segment of the American body politic trying to impose its will on the rest of us.

medicare

Their end game is to dilute reform to make it virtually unrecognizable from what we have now. Anything else, they bleat, like a public option or single payer puts us on the path to socialism. But what path does the current system put us on? Could it be something like Social Darwinism, where only the healthy survive?

Strip away all the rhetoric, and what leg do opponents of healthcare reform have to stand on? Put simply, they want no part of a system that affords the working poor access to quality care. If you make so little as to qualify under Medicaid, fine. If not, those geometric increases in the cost of health insurance premiums are on you, pal.

And who funds reform opponents? A guy named Rick Scott, the founder of “Conservatives for Patients Rights”. He also founded a hospital corporation that paid out $1.7 billion dollars to Uncle Sam for fraud. So let’s see now. We’ve got a group of vocal opponents of Obama’s healthcare plan who disrupt meetings at the behest of a failed governor and a medical fraudster. Nice.

I for one am still not ready to give up on single payer, universal care for all. I know people are saying it’s not politically feasible, people have said the same thing about other, equally worthy pieces of legislation. There’s something utterly galling about having the debate on this issue hijacked by the small, the petty, the misinformed, and the deliberately misleading.

As they say across the pond, death panel my arse. What do you think?

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Can Obama Win on Health Care?

barack-obama-healthcareThe president’s supporters have gotten nervous over poll slippage for his health care plan. That’s why he went on the offensive Wednesday, emphasizing the need to reform the current system. President Obama is fighting this battle on several fronts. Congressional Republicans want to see his plan go down, pure and simple. Jim DeMint isn’t the only one hoping this is Obama’s “Waterloo”. Despite their minority status, they’re pressing their opposition in part by playing the “Fear of the Unknown” card.

What we have is bad, their argument goes, but what Obama is proposing is worse. Plus, they have a couple of non partisan analyses that say his plan won’t save the money he says it will. Next on the list are so-called “Blue Dog Democrats”, who seem to willing to break ranks over issues of cost, and whether new taxes will have to be levied to pay for the plan.

Some of these folks represent constituents who are scared of government involvement in their health care decisions. President Obama tried to mollify them Wednesday, saying his plan won’t make Uncle Sam America’s doctor. To make matters worse, an awful lot of Americans don’t know the difference between the Obama health care plan, and the versions currently being taken up by the House and Senate. Even some of his congressional allies are saying he needs to trim his sails and accept a compromise solution.

I would argue differently. While Americans may be confused about the current competing plans, they do know what single payer means. And that’s the problem. Barack Obama missed a singular opportunity by not advocating for universal, single payer health coverage for all Americans. Telling the American people “If you’re sick, you’ll be treated, no matter what” would present a clear choice that most people can understand and support. Keep things as they are, and risk having to declare bankruptcy even with insurance, or move to a universal, single payer plan that while not perfect, is measurably better than what exists now.

Opponents would trot out their “socialized medicine” arguments. So what? President Obama could then point to the dramatically lower administrative costs associated with Medicaid and Medicare as opposed to the current system. They holler about Britain, and the supposed shortcomings of their system. I could tell them of one personal experience about that.

On a visit to London some time ago, my daughter was injured by a painting that fell on her head in our hotel room. My wife and I were panicked. What to do? Fortunately, we were staying down the street from a hospital. We took her there, and waited anxiously while she was examined and treated. It took about three hours. Never once were we asked for an insurance card, or for that matter, whether we were British citizens (my wife is). She received a number of stitches, but in the end they told us she’d be fine.

I asked how much this treatment would cost, preparing for the worst. To my utter amazement, the answer was “Nothing. The treatment is free”. It was my first, and to date only experience with universal health care.

What about you? Should the nation be arguing about health care reform, or should we take the giant leap to universal health care?

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