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Author Topic: The Politics of Health Care  (Read 177294 times)
ccp
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« Reply #250 on: June 26, 2009, 05:19:56 PM »

Doug,
Well the idea of doctors being able to go on strike is always a topic that brings out screams and hollers.
The idea of public employees being able to unionize though for some reason does not seem to bother anyone except me and you.
I have questioned this before in my posts.  There is some irony in the goernment hiring people, taxing all of us to pay for it, then allowing them to unionize to hit the taxpayers for more.
It appears it is from my googling that it is a state and local issue for most.

This is a bit out dated but I assume it applies to today:

Who Gets To Unionize?
Matt Alsdorf
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 7, 1999, at 7:14 PM ET
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that medical interns and residents at private hospitals were employees--not students--and could therefore form unions. What other types of employees can unionize?

The large majority of them. In 1935, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act, which gives virtually every private sector employee the right to unionize and bargain collectively. (This is why last week's decision of the NLRB, which administers the act, affects only private hospitals.) Since 1935, most government employees--whether federal, state, or local--have gained the same rights through other national or state laws. So, only those workers specifically exempted from the NLRA are not guaranteed the ability to unionize. (However, this does not mean that they are prohibited from unionizing--rather, that they cannot seek federal protection if their employer refuses to recognize a union.) They include:

Small business employees: The definition of "small business" has not changed since the 1950s. As a result, there are very few companies that still qualify. (For example, a wholesale store would have to have annual sales below $50,000; a retail store, below $500,000; and a law firm, below $200,000.)
Managers and supervisors: This group includes anyone with hiring, firing, disciplinary, or compensatory authority over other workers. They are viewed as employers, not employees.
Independent contractors: These are people who are hired on an individual, project-by-project basis. They are a growing segment of the workforce, particularly in computer-related fields.
Agricultural workers: Because they are seasonal laborers and have a high turnover rate, they were excluded from the law. Only California has granted them unionization privileges.
Domestic employees: This group includes maids, butlers, and other live-in household help.
Although most American workers can join unions, a decreasing percentage are doing so. In 1998, only 13.9 percent of the workforce was unionized--down from 20.1 percent in 1983 (the first year comparable statistics were collected). And when government employees are excluded, the percentages are even lower: While 37.5 percent of public workers are unionized, only 9.5 percent of the private sector is.

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Boyo
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« Reply #251 on: June 26, 2009, 05:51:07 PM »

Public employees unoinizing is actually sort of silly.In Michigan it is illegal for public employees to strike, a good example are teachers or the national guard .Both have unions but they are forbidden from striking.So why bother.Oh, I know as payback to the unions. rolleyes

boyo
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #252 on: June 26, 2009, 08:14:20 PM »

Indulge this old gray beard in reminding you that the Air Traffic Controllers Union, a public union, went on strike when President Reagan first took office.  He shocked the excrement out of them and the Dems when he fired them.  OTOH, NYC has a long and extremely expensive history of negotiating with striking public transit and sanitation unions.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #253 on: June 29, 2009, 05:54:07 PM »

The Pitfalls of the Public Option
 
By N. GREGORY MANKIW
Published: June 27, 2009
IN the debate over health care reform, one issue looms large: whether to have a public option. Should all Americans have the opportunity to sign up for government-run health insurance?

Enlarge This Image
 
David G. Klein
President Obama has made his own preferences clear. In a letter to Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana, the chairmen of two key Senate committees, he wrote: “I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.”

Even if one accepts the president’s broader goals of wider access to health care and cost containment, his economic logic regarding the public option is hard to follow. Consumer choice and honest competition are indeed the foundation of a successful market system, but they are usually achieved without a public provider. We don’t need government-run grocery stores or government-run gas stations to ensure that Americans can buy food and fuel at reasonable prices.

An important question about any public provider of health insurance is whether it would have access to taxpayer funds. If not, the public plan would have to stand on its own financially, as private plans do, covering all expenses with premiums from those who signed up for it.

But if such a plan were desirable and feasible, nothing would stop someone from setting it up right now. In essence, a public plan without taxpayer support would be yet another nonprofit company offering health insurance. The fundamental viability of the enterprise does not depend on whether the employees are called “nonprofit administrators” or “civil servants.”

In practice, however, if a public option is available, it will probably enjoy taxpayer subsidies. Indeed, even if the initial legislation rejected them, such subsidies would be hard to avoid in the long run. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants created by federal law, were once private companies. Yet many investors believed — correctly, as it turned out — that the federal government would stand behind Fannie’s and Freddie’s debts, and this perception gave these companies access to cheap credit. Similarly, a public health insurance plan would enjoy the presumption of a government backstop.

Such explicit or implicit subsidies would prevent a public plan from providing honest competition for private suppliers of health insurance. Instead, the public plan would likely undercut private firms and get an undue share of the market.

President Obama might not be disappointed if that turned out to be the case. During the presidential campaign, he said, “If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system.”

Of course, we are not starting from scratch. Because many Americans are happy with their current health care, moving immediately to a single-payer system is too radical a change to be politically tenable. But for those who see single-payer as the ideal, a public option that uses taxpayer funds to tilt the playing field may be an attractive second best. If the subsidies are big enough, over time more and more consumers will be induced to switch.

Which raises the question: Would the existence of a dominant government provider of health insurance be good or bad?

It is natural to be skeptical. The largest existing public health programs — Medicare and Medicaid — are the main reason that the government’s long-term finances are in shambles. True, Medicare’s administrative costs are low, but it is easy to keep those costs contained when a system merely writes checks without expending the resources to control wasteful medical spending.

A dominant government insurer, however, could potentially keep costs down by squeezing the suppliers of health care. This cost control works not by fostering honest competition but by thwarting it.

Recall a basic lesson of economics: A market participant with a dominant position can influence prices in a way that a small, competitive player cannot. A monopoly — a seller without competitors — can profitably raise the price of its product above the competitive level by reducing the quantity it supplies to the market. Similarly, a monopsony — a buyer without competitors — can reduce the price it pays below the competitive level by reducing the quantity it demands.

This lesson applies directly to the market for health care. If the government has a dominant role in buying the services of doctors and other health care providers, it can force prices down. Once the government is virtually the only game in town, health care providers will have little choice but to take whatever they can get. It is no wonder that the American Medical Association opposes the public option.

To be sure, squeezing suppliers would have unpleasant side effects. Over time, society would end up with fewer doctors and other health care workers. The reduced quantity of services would somehow need to be rationed among competing demands. Such rationing is unlikely to work well.

FAIRNESS is in the eye of the beholder, but nothing about a government-run health care system strikes me as fair. Squeezing providers would save the rest of us money, but so would a special tax levied only on health care workers, and that is manifestly inequitable.

In the end, it would be a mistake to expect too much from health insurance reform. A competitive system of private insurers, lightly regulated to ensure that the market works well, would offer Americans the best health care at the best prices.

The health care of the future won’t come cheap, but a public option won’t make it better.

N. Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard. He was an adviser to President George W. Bush.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/business/economy/28view.html?_r=3&ref=business
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ccp
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« Reply #254 on: June 30, 2009, 08:40:53 AM »

One question.
We keep hearing from the talking heads that we all agree that *everyone* should have health care.
To do so means rationing from the 90% that do.

Arguments from the Bama would state that the 10% can be covered with cost savings and more efficient care.
Electronic records, more preventative care, "keeping people well", paying providers for keeping people well not for each service provided.

There is one truth.  That of all these so called fixes -
No one knows if they would work.
Odds are very good they would reduce escalation of costs for a short period of time before the costs than star to go back up.
Just like the managed care of the 1990's.  It only works so much before people start yelping that they are not getting what they want.  Remember the Jack Nicholson movie with the criticism of HMOs?
HMO's did keep costs down, but only for a couple of years.
And their reputations plummeted.  There was this constant battle between patients wanting more tests, coverage and the insurers denying them.
The insurers even put doctors in the middle by giving them bonuses to limit and deny care.  Thus they were always off the hook blaming the docotr if something would go wrong.

Yet HMOs continued because they were the most affordable.  Especially with extra coverage for Medicare patients.

In any case we are looking at rationed care from 90% to pay for the 10%, apparantly a quarter of whom don't even belong in the US.


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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #255 on: June 30, 2009, 07:56:54 PM »

Hadn't heard about the preemie statistics keeping standards mentioned below.

Canada's Single-Prayer Health Care
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Health Reform: A critically ill premature baby is moved to a U.S hospital to get the treatment she couldn't get in the system we're told we should emulate. Cost-effective care? In Canada, as elsewhere, you get what you pay for.

Ava Isabella Stinson was born last Thursday at St. Joseph's hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. Weighing only two pounds, she was born 13 weeks premature and needed some very special care. Unfortunately, there were no open neonatal intensive care beds for her at St. Joseph's — or anywhere else in the entire province of Ontario, it seems.

Canada's perfectly planned and cost-effective system had no room at the inn for Ava, who of necessity had to be sent across the border to a Buffalo, N.Y., hospital to suffer under our chaotic and costly system. She had no time to be put on a Canadian waiting list. She got the care she needed at an American hospital under a system President Obama has labeled "unsustainable."
Jim Hoft over at Gateway Pundit reports Ava's case is not unusual. He reports that Hamilton's neonatal intensive care unit is closed to new admissions half the time. Special-needs infants are sent elsewhere and usually to the U.S.

In 2007, a Canadian woman gave birth to extremely rare identical quadruplets — Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia Jepps. They were born in the United States to Canadian parents because there was again no space available at any Canadian neonatal care unit. All they had was a wing and a prayer.

The Jepps, a nurse and a respiratory technician flew from Calgary, a city of a million people, 325 miles to Benefit Hospital in Great Falls, Mont., a city of 56,000. The girls are doing fine, thanks to our system where care still trumps cost and where being without insurance does not mean being without care.

Infant mortality rates are often cited as a reason socialized medicine and a single-payer system is supposed to be better than what we have here. But according to Dr. Linda Halderman, a policy adviser in the California State Senate, these comparisons are bogus.

As she points out, in the U.S., low birth-weight babies are still babies. In Canada, Germany and Austria, a premature baby weighing less than 500 grams is not considered a living child and is not counted in such statistics. They're considered "unsalvageable" and therefore never alive.

Norway boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world — until you factor in weight at birth, and then its rate is no better than in the U.S.

In other countries babies that survive less than 24 hours are also excluded and are classified as "stillborn." In the U.S. any infant that shows any sign of life for any length of time is considered a live birth.

A child born in Hong Kong or Japan that lives less than a day is reported as a "miscarriage" and not counted. In Switzerland and other parts of Europe, a baby is not counted as a baby if it is less than 30 centimeters in length.

In 2007, there were at least 40 mothers and their babies who were airlifted from British Columbia alone to the U.S. because Canadian hospitals didn't have room. It's worth noting that since 2000, 42 of the world's 52 surviving babies weighing less than 400g (0.9 pounds) were born in the U.S.

It must be embarrassing to Canada that a G-7 economy and a country of 30 million people can't offer the same level of health care as a town of just over 50,000 in rural Montana. Where will Canada send its preemies and other critical patients when we adopt their health care system?

As we have noted, in Canada roughly 900,000 patients of all ages are waiting for beds, according to the Fraser Institute. There are more than four times as many magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) units per capita in the U.S. as in Canada. We have twice as many CT scanners per capita.

Expensive? Wasteful. Just ask the Jepps or the parents of Ava Isabella Stinson.

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=331254362316405
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #256 on: July 01, 2009, 09:26:01 AM »

By GEORGE NEWMAN
The health-care debate continues. We have now heard from nearly all the politicians, experts and interested parties: doctors, drug makers, hospitals, insurance companies, even constitutional lawyers (though not, significantly, from trial lawyers, who know full well "change" is not coming to their practices). Here is how one humble economist sees some of the main arguments, which I have paraphrased below:

- "The American people overwhelmingly favor reform."

If you ask whether people would be happier if somebody else paid their medical bills, they generally say yes. But surveys on consumers' satisfaction with their quality of care show overwhelming support for the continuation of the present arrangement. The best proof of this is the belated recognition by the proponents of health-care reform that they need to promise people that they can keep what they have now.

- "The cost of health care rises two to three times as fast as inflation."

That's like comparing the price of hamburger 30 years ago with the price of filet mignon today and calling the difference inflation. Or the price of a 19-inch, black-and-white TV 30 years ago with the price of a 50-inch HDTV today. The improvements in medical care are even more dramatic, leading to longer life, less pain, fewer exploratory surgeries and miracle drugs. Of course the research, the equipment and the training that produce these improvements don't come cheap.

 
Corbis
 - "Health care represents a rising proportion of our income."

That's not only true but perfectly natural. Quality health care is a discretionary, income-elastic expense -- i.e. the richer a society, the larger the proportion of income that is spent on it. (Poor societies have to spend income gains on food and other necessities.) Consider the alternatives. Would we feel better about ourselves if we skimped on our family's health care and spent the money on liquor, gambling, night clubs or a third television set?

- "Shifting funds from health care to education would make for a better society."

These two services have a lot in common, including steadily rising cost. What is curious is that this rise in education costs is deemed by the liberal establishment smart and farsighted while the rise in health-care costs is a curse to be stopped at any cost. What is curiouser still is that in education, where they always advocate more "investment," past increases have gone hand-in-hand with demonstrably deteriorating outcomes. The rising cost in health care has been accompanied by clearly superior results. Thus we would shift dollars from where they do a lot of good to an area where they don't.

- "Forty-five million people in the U.S. are uninsured."

Even if this were true (many dispute it) should we risk destroying a system that works for the vast majority to help 15% of our population?

- "The cost of treating the 45 million uninsured is shifted to the rest of us."

So on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we are harangued about the 45 million people lacking medical care, and on Tuesday and Thursday we are told we already pay for that care. Left-wing reformers think that if they split the two arguments we are too stupid to notice the contradiction. Furthermore, if cost shifting is bad, wait for the Mother of all Cost Shifting when suppliers have to overcharge the private plans to compensate for the depressed prices forced on them by the public plan.

- "A universal plan will reduce the cost of health care."

Think a moment. Suppose you are in an apple market with 100 buyers and 100 sellers every day and apples sell for $1 a pound. Suddenly one day 120 buyers show up. Will the price of the apples go up or down?

- "U.S. companies are at a disadvantage against foreign competitors who don't have to pay their employees' health insurance."

This would be true if the funds for health care in those countries fell from the sky. As it is, employees in those countries pay for their health care in much higher income taxes, sales or value-added taxes, gasoline taxes (think $8 a gallon at the pump) and in many other ways, effectively reducing their take-home pay and living standards. And isn't it odd that the same people who want to lift this burden from businesses that provide health benefits also (again, on alternate days) want to impose this burden on the other firms that do not offer this benefit. What about the international competitiveness of these companies?

- "If you like your current plan you can keep it."

In other words, you can keep your current plan if it (and the company offering it) is still around. This is not a trivial qualification. Proponents have clearly learned from the HillaryCare debacle in the 1990s that radical transformation does not sell. What we have instead is what came to be dubbed "salami tactics" in postwar Eastern Europe where Communist leaders took away freedoms one at a time to minimize resistance and obscure the ultimate goal. If nothing else, a century of vain attempts to break the Post Office monopoly should teach us how welcoming Congress is to competition to one of its high-cost, inefficient wards.

- "Congress will be strictly neutral between the public and private plans."

Nonsense. Congress has a hundred ways to help its creation hide costs, from squeezing suppliers to hidden subsidies (think Amtrak). And it has even more ways to bankrupt private plans. One way is to mandate ever more exotic and expensive coverage (think hair transplants or sex-change operations). Another is by limiting and averaging premiums and outlawing advertising. And if all else fails Congress can always resort to tax audits and public harassment of executives -- all in the name of "leveling the playing field." Then, in the end, the triumphal announcement: "The private system has failed."

- "Decisions will still be made by doctors and patients and the system won't be politicized."

Fat chance. Funding conflicts between mental health and gynecology will be based on which pressure group offers the richer bribe or appears more politically correct. The closing (or opening) of a hospital will be based not on need but which subcommittee chairman's district the hospital is in. Imagine the centralization of all medical research in the country in the brand new Robert Byrd Medical Center in Morgantown, W.Va. You get the idea.

- "We need a public plan to keep the private plans honest."

The 1,500 or so private plans don't produce enough competition? Making it 1,501 will do the trick? But then why stop there? Eating is even more important than health care, so shouldn't we have government-run supermarkets "to keep the private ones honest"? After all, supermarkets clearly put profits ahead of feeding people. And we can't run around naked, so we should have government-run clothing stores to keep the private ones honest. And shelter is just as important, so we should start public housing to keep private builders honest. Oops, we already have that. And that is exactly the point. Think of everything you know about public housing, the image the term conjures up in your mind. If you like public housing you will love public health care.

Mr. Newman is an economist and retired business executive.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #257 on: July 01, 2009, 09:54:17 AM »

July 1, 2009
"Better" Health Care?

By John Stossel
President Obama says government will make health care cheaper and better. But there's no free lunch.

In England, health care is "free" -- as long as you don't mind waiting. People wait so long for dentist appointments that some pull their own teeth. At any one time, half a million people are waiting to get into a British hospital. A British paper reports that one hospital tried to save money by not changing bedsheets. Instead of washing sheets, the staff was encouraged to just turn them over.

Obama insists he is not "trying to bring about government-run healthcare".

"But government management does the same thing," says Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute. "To reduce costs they'll have to ration -- deny -- care."

"People line up for care, some of them die. That's what happens," says Canadian doctor David Gratzer, author of "The Cure". He liked Canada's government health care until he started treating patients.

"The more time I spent in the Canadian system, the more I came across people waiting for radiation therapy, waiting for the knee replacement so they could finally walk up to the second floor of their house." "You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem! Just wait six months. You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air! Just wait six months."

Polls show most Canadians like their free health care, but most people aren't sick when the poll-taker calls. Canadian doctors told us the system is cracking. One complained that he can't get heart-attack victims into the ICU.

In America, people wait in emergency rooms, too, but it's much worse in Canada. If you're sick enough to be admitted, the average wait is 23 hours.

"We can't send these patients to other hospitals. Dr. Eric Letovsky told us. "Every other emergency department in the country is just as packed as we are."

More than a million and a half Canadians say they can't find a family doctor. Some towns hold lotteries to determine who gets a doctor. In Norwood, Ontario, "20/20" videotaped a town clerk pulling the names of the lucky winners out of a lottery box. The losers must wait to see a doctor.

Shirley Healy, like many sick Canadians, came to America for surgery. Her doctor in British Columbia told her she had only a few weeks to live because a blocked artery kept her from digesting food. Yet Canadian officials called her surgery "elective."

"The only thing elective about this surgery was I elected to live," she said.

It's true that America's partly profit-driven, partly bureaucratic system is expensive, and sometimes wasteful, but the pursuit of profit reduces waste and costs and gives the world the improvements in medicine that ease pain and save lives.

"[America] is the country of medical innovation. This is where people come when they need treatment," Dr. Gratzer says.

"Literally we're surrounded by medical miracles. Death by cardiovascular disease has dropped by two-thirds in the last 50 years. You've got to pay a price for that type of advancement."

Canada and England don't pay the price because they freeload off American innovation. If America adopted their systems, we could worry less about paying for health care, but we'd get 2009-level care -- forever.
Government monopolies don't innovate. Profit seekers do.

We saw this in Canada, where we did find one area of medicine that offers easy access to cutting-edge technology -- CT scan, endoscopy, thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, etc. It was open 24/7. Patients didn't have to wait.

But you have to bark or meow to get that kind of treatment. Animal care is the one area of medicine that hasn't been taken over by the government. Dogs can get a CT scan in one day. For people, the waiting list is a month.


Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/07/01/better_health_care_97244.html at July 01, 2009 - 08:17:48 AM PDT
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #258 on: July 01, 2009, 01:09:22 PM »

2nd post.

Parsing the Health Reform Arguments
Some of the shibboleths we've heard in recent weeks don't make much sense.
By GEORGE NEWMAN

The health-care debate continues. We have now heard from nearly all the politicians, experts and interested parties: doctors, drug makers, hospitals, insurance companies, even constitutional lawyers (though not, significantly, from trial lawyers, who know full well "change" is not coming to their practices). Here is how one humble economist sees some of the main arguments, which I have paraphrased below:

- "The American people overwhelmingly favor reform."

If you ask whether people would be happier if somebody else paid their medical bills, they generally say yes. But surveys on consumers' satisfaction with their quality of care show overwhelming support for the continuation of the present arrangement. The best proof of this is the belated recognition by the proponents of health-care reform that they need to promise people that they can keep what they have now.

- "The cost of health care rises two to three times as fast as inflation."

That's like comparing the price of hamburger 30 years ago with the price of filet mignon today and calling the difference inflation. Or the price of a 19-inch, black-and-white TV 30 years ago with the price of a 50-inch HDTV today. The improvements in medical care are even more dramatic, leading to longer life, less pain, fewer exploratory surgeries and miracle drugs. Of course the research, the equipment and the training that produce these improvements don't come cheap.

- "Health care represents a rising proportion of our income."

That's not only true but perfectly natural. Quality health care is a discretionary, income-elastic expense -- i.e. the richer a society, the larger the proportion of income that is spent on it. (Poor societies have to spend income gains on food and other necessities.) Consider the alternatives. Would we feel better about ourselves if we skimped on our family's health care and spent the money on liquor, gambling, night clubs or a third television set?

- "Shifting funds from health care to education would make for a better society."

These two services have a lot in common, including steadily rising cost. What is curious is that this rise in education costs is deemed by the liberal establishment smart and farsighted while the rise in health-care costs is a curse to be stopped at any cost. What is curiouser still is that in education, where they always advocate more "investment," past increases have gone hand-in-hand with demonstrably deteriorating outcomes. The rising cost in health care has been accompanied by clearly superior results. Thus we would shift dollars from where they do a lot of good to an area where they don't.

- "Forty-five million people in the U.S. are uninsured."

Even if this were true (many dispute it) should we risk destroying a system that works for the vast majority to help 15% of our population?

- "The cost of treating the 45 million uninsured is shifted to the rest of us."

So on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we are harangued about the 45 million people lacking medical care, and on Tuesday and Thursday we are told we already pay for that care. Left-wing reformers think that if they split the two arguments we are too stupid to notice the contradiction. Furthermore, if cost shifting is bad, wait for the Mother of all Cost Shifting when suppliers have to overcharge the private plans to compensate for the depressed prices forced on them by the public plan.

- "A universal plan will reduce the cost of health care."

Think a moment. Suppose you are in an apple market with 100 buyers and 100 sellers every day and apples sell for $1 a pound. Suddenly one day 120 buyers show up. Will the price of the apples go up or down?

- "U.S. companies are at a disadvantage against foreign competitors who don't have to pay their employees' health insurance."

This would be true if the funds for health care in those countries fell from the sky. As it is, employees in those countries pay for their health care in much higher income taxes, sales or value-added taxes, gasoline taxes (think $8 a gallon at the pump) and in many other ways, effectively reducing their take-home pay and living standards. And isn't it odd that the same people who want to lift this burden from businesses that provide health benefits also (again, on alternate days) want to impose this burden on the other firms that do not offer this benefit. What about the international competitiveness of these companies?

- "If you like your current plan you can keep it."

In other words, you can keep your current plan if it (and the company offering it) is still around. This is not a trivial qualification. Proponents have clearly learned from the HillaryCare debacle in the 1990s that radical transformation does not sell. What we have instead is what came to be dubbed "salami tactics" in postwar Eastern Europe where Communist leaders took away freedoms one at a time to minimize resistance and obscure the ultimate goal. If nothing else, a century of vain attempts to break the Post Office monopoly should teach us how welcoming Congress is to competition to one of its high-cost, inefficient wards.

- "Congress will be strictly neutral between the public and private plans."

Nonsense. Congress has a hundred ways to help its creation hide costs, from squeezing suppliers to hidden subsidies (think Amtrak). And it has even more ways to bankrupt private plans. One way is to mandate ever more exotic and expensive coverage (think hair transplants or sex-change operations). Another is by limiting and averaging premiums and outlawing advertising. And if all else fails Congress can always resort to tax audits and public harassment of executives -- all in the name of "leveling the playing field." Then, in the end, the triumphal announcement: "The private system has failed."

- "Decisions will still be made by doctors and patients and the system won't be politicized."

Fat chance. Funding conflicts between mental health and gynecology will be based on which pressure group offers the richer bribe or appears more politically correct. The closing (or opening) of a hospital will be based not on need but which subcommittee chairman's district the hospital is in. Imagine the centralization of all medical research in the country in the brand new Robert Byrd Medical Center in Morgantown, W.Va. You get the idea.

- "We need a public plan to keep the private plans honest."

The 1,500 or so private plans don't produce enough competition? Making it 1,501 will do the trick? But then why stop there? Eating is even more important than health care, so shouldn't we have government-run supermarkets "to keep the private ones honest"? After all, supermarkets clearly put profits ahead of feeding people. And we can't run around naked, so we should have government-run clothing stores to keep the private ones honest. And shelter is just as important, so we should start public housing to keep private builders honest. Oops, we already have that. And that is exactly the point. Think of everything you know about public housing, the image the term conjures up in your mind. If you like public housing you will love public health care.

Mr. Newman is an economist and retired business executive.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A13

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124640626749276595.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #259 on: July 01, 2009, 01:47:43 PM »

See entry #256 cheesy
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #260 on: July 01, 2009, 01:54:04 PM »

Doh!
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #261 on: July 01, 2009, 02:43:47 PM »

Senate "Free Rider" Penalties: Taxing the Poor to Pay for Health Care
by Robert A. Book, Ph.D. and Edmund F. Haislmaier
WebMemo #2516
Congress's mad scramble to turn health care buzzwords and bumper stickers into legislation last week careened off in yet another direction.

Senators on the Finance Committee revealed that they are now considering a variant of the "play or pay" employer mandate idea--imposing so-called "free rider" penalties on businesses whose workers receive coverage through Medicaid or take advantage of new subsidies to buy health insurance elsewhere.

It is unclear whether the "free rider" penalties would to be in addition to, or a substitute for, the payroll tax "pay" part of a play-or-pay employer mandate. Either way, such penalties would in practice act as an extremely regressive tax on the working poor, reducing their cash wages and in some cases eliminating their jobs altogether.

Displacing Private Coverage

The Finance Committee seems to be engaged in the classic exercise of making new errors that compound previous ones. They are trying to solve a problem made by their proposal to create new subsidies for the currently uninsured that are larger than the existing subsides for those already insured.

Workers with employer-sponsored health insurance already get a substantial implicit subsidy because their coverage is treated as tax-free income. If Congress offers even bigger subsidies to the uninsured, many in the eligible income range who currently have coverage will try to switch to the new, more heavily subsidized coverage, meaning that new, more-subsidized coverage would "crowd-out" existing, less-subsidized coverage.

It seems that when presented by the Congressional Budget Office with enormous and unfunded cost estimates for their subsidy design--partially attributable to its significant crowd-out effects--committee members opted for a second mistake.

Unequal Treatment

Rather than equalizing the new subsidies to eliminate potential crowd-out, the committee apparently decided to enact a generous subsidy design while adding a so-called "free rider" penalty, imposed on businesses whose workers take advantage of the new subsidies or sign up for Medicaid. Presumably, the idea is to discourage employers from dropping their current health plans if enough of their employees become eligible for expanded government benefits--or at least to defray the cost to the government if they do so.

It is unclear whether the committee envisions these penalties to apply only to employers who currently offer coverage but later drop it, or to all employers who do not offer coverage after the law is enacted.

Furthermore, it is also unclear if these penalties would apply in cases where an employer offered coverage, but some employees decline it and enroll in Medicaid or other government-subsidized coverage options instead. For example, if an employee qualifies for Medicaid and signs up, would the employer be assessed a penalty? Taking that approach would effectively punish employers for decisions taken by Congress (to expand Medicaid eligibility) and workers (to sign up for coverage for which they become newly eligible) over which the employers have no control.

Taxing Workers

Of course, the biggest fallacy in all of this is the belief that somehow it will be employers, rather than workers, that bear the cost of any "play or pay" mandate or "free rider" penalty.

The reality is that either or both of these provisions will act as an extremely regressive tax on the working poor, substantially reducing their take-home pay and in some cases eliminating their jobs altogether.

When an employer decides whether to hire an employee and how much to pay, the employer has to consider the full cost of employing that person. That full cost includes not only cash wages and the employer's cost of providing benefits but also the employer's share of any employment-related taxes, such as the Social Security and Medicare taxes. When the costs of benefits or payroll taxes increase, their slices of the total compensation pie expand--forcing the cash wage slice to shrink.

Thus, if an employer is required to pay a "penalty" or "tax" for not providing health insurance, that too will reduce the amount available to pay the employee as cash wages. If the employer instead satisfies the mandate by spending more on health insurance, the effect is the same. Either way, the employee's take-home pay has to be cut.

If reports about some of the ideas being considered by the Finance Committee are correct, the actual effects could be dramatic and disastrous for low-income workers. In particular, the committee is reported to be considering "free rider" penalties that are equal to half of the national average cost of Medicaid or to the full cost of the federal subsidies for individuals with incomes above the (new, higher) Medicaid eligibility threshold.

That would, in effect, be a massively regressive tax--and one that applied only to people on the lower end of the income distribution scale. Furthermore, it would be regressive even within that subgroup. For employees eligible for Medicaid, the tax would be a fixed amount per employee (and therefore a larger percentage of income for lower-income employees). For those with incomes too high for Medicaid but low enough to quality for a health insurance subsidy, the subsidy will likely be reduced as the employee's income rises, with the "free rider" penalty being equal to the amount of the subsidy.

Consequently, the "free rider" tax will take more money--not just a higher percentage, but more actual dollars--from workers with lower incomes than from those with higher incomes. And for workers whose incomes are high enough, the tax would disappear entirely.

In essence, the Senators would be telling the poor: "If you now have to choose between food and health insurance, from now on you no longer have that choice--you have to buy the health insurance."

For some employees, the situation would be even worse. After all, what if the employee is earning only minimum wage? Or close enough to it that cutting cash wages by the amount of the tax would put the employee's pay below the minimum wage? In that case, there would be only one way for the employer to comply with the law: lay off all employees whose wages are too low.

Back to the Drawing Board

Businesses do not meet their payrolls out of magic pots of unlimited money that they dole out based on their own level of beneficence. They have to pay employees out of money they get from customers based on their employees' work. If that work does not generate enough revenue to pay at least the minimum wage plus the cost of benefits plus the taxes, then the business loses money and the employees have to be laid off. Like gravity, it is just that simple and that unalterable.

A large and regressive tax increase on low-income workers is not the solution to America's health care problems. Some people might gain coverage, but all will lose take-home pay, and many will lose their jobs entirely.

Robert A. Book, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Health Economics in the Center for Data Analysis and Edmund F. Haislmaier is Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCare/wm2516.cfm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #262 on: July 01, 2009, 06:19:11 PM »

is expensive now, just wait until the govt makes it free.

http://abcnews.go.com:80/video/playerIndex?id=4578691
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #263 on: July 02, 2009, 04:07:21 PM »

Disabled children wait up to two years for wheelchairs
NHS accused of relying on charities to plug funding gap, leaving patients facing postcode lottery
Press Association
guardian.co.uk,    Wednesday 4 March 2009 13.34 GMT
 larger | smaller
The NHS was told today to stop relying on charities to fill funding gaps after figures revealed many trusts would not pay the full cost of electric wheelchairs for disabled children.

Freedom of information figures obtained by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign found children were subject to a postcode lottery in terms of equipment.

Statistics from 54% of NHS trusts in England and Scotland revealed that disabled children in England are forced to wait five months on average for a wheelchair.

The worst performing primary care trust (PCT), East Lancashire, in the north-west of England, had an average wait of two years for an electric wheelchair.

The survey showed 58% of children in England had to wait at least three months for an electric wheelchair and 14% waited more than six months.

In the case of Westminster and Islington PCTs in London, children living just four miles apart could have a difference of 11 months in waiting time.

Overall, 50% of the PCTs that responded said they did not fund the full cost of a powered wheelchair for a disabled child.

Westminster PCT made an average contribution of only £700 towards the cost of a child's powered wheelchair, it said.

Almost all PCTs contacted by the charity said the cost of a wheelchair was around £2,000 but in fact the true cost of a basic electric wheelchair would be around £3,000.

A separate patient survey of 237 children found one in three did not receive any funding at all for their wheelchair.

Philip Butcher, chief executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: "Today's figures are nothing short of a national scandal.

"It is a damning indictment of the NHS that so many families across the UK are forced to rely on charities or be driven into financial hardship just to receive vital, life-improving equipment for their disabled children.

"It's time the NHS stopped relying on charities to fill the gaps left by its inadequate funding."

Two PCTs in the West Midlands – Birmingham East and North, and South Birmingham – have waiting times for a powered wheelchair of 18 months compared to a national average of just under five months, the report said.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/mar/04/wheelchair-wait-children
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DougMacG
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« Reply #264 on: July 05, 2009, 01:30:17 PM »

A competing Democrat operative once said of the Clintons that they lie with such ease.  Now it is the Obamas.  We are told that there is no harm to let a "public option" compete with "private" options.  "No one is going to lose their current health plan if they choose to keep it."  Of course the elephant in the room is that the public option is subsidized by the taxpayer to the tune of trillions.  That's why private options won't be able to compete.

Here is David Axelrod on Meet the Press last week saying there will be no subsidy:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/06/28/david_axelrod_mtt_romney_lindsey_graham_on_meet_the_press_97215.html
"Look, we believe strongly in, in a public choice; not one that's subsidized by the government, but one that will embrace the best practices, that will reduce healthcare costs and give people the best quality care."

Someone help me out here.  If there is no subsidy and no unfair advantage, what the hell do we need the government for to create it?  It will cost the taxpayer nothing(?), it has to paid for, no taxes are going up (except on the wealthiest among us) and it won't have any unfair advantage over private choices.  (Please weigh in here if you believe them.)

Of course they are lying.  All of the above are true.  It will be subsidized.  All government programs are.  Taxes will be raised even on the brokest among us.  Private choices will be squeezed out.  Costs will go up, not down.  Quality will suffer. Waiting will be the norm.  And turning back will be next to impossible.
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ccp
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« Reply #265 on: July 06, 2009, 09:41:29 AM »

"A competing Democrat operative once said of the Clintons that they lie with such ease.  Now it is the Obamas"

Clinton proved that the truth doesn't matter when one is pushing agendas that are popular in the polls.
BO is just taking the ball and running with it.

It is really frustrating that he is so personally popular in the polls.

I just don't get it that lying/honesty is not important with most people.

Especially with our leaders who seem more like scam artists.  When BO was *reading* his scripted 4th of July speech I really felt he was just reading lines he doesn't believe and certainly has no heart in.
He doesn't believe all those good things he says about America.  He is just reading it because as Alinsky wrote, "pretend you are one of them and then you can change them".

Honesty meant something in my family when I was growing up. 
At least to strive to be honest/straight and fair.
Now it is mocked for all to see.

And the Dems don't even pretend the facade of honesty.
The repubs perhaps are not much better and put on the facade.



 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #266 on: July 07, 2009, 08:53:06 AM »

Speaking to the American Medical Association last month, President Obama waxed enthusiastic about countries that "spend less" than the U.S. on health care. He's right that many countries do, but what he doesn't want to explain is how they ration care to do it.

Take the United Kingdom, which is often praised for spending as little as half as much per capita on health care as the U.S. Credit for this cost containment goes in large part to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. Americans should understand how NICE works because under ObamaCare it will eventually be coming to a hospital near you.

* * *
 
Associated Press
 
President Barack Obama speaks about health care during a town hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College last Wednesday.
The British officials who established NICE in the late 1990s pitched it as a body that would ensure that the government-run National Health System used "best practices" in medicine. As the Guardian reported in 1998: "Health ministers are setting up [NICE], designed to ensure that every treatment, operation, or medicine used is the proven best. It will root out under-performing doctors and useless treatments, spreading best practices everywhere."

What NICE has become in practice is a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the NHS. For example:

In March, NICE ruled against the use of two drugs, Lapatinib and Sutent, that prolong the life of those with certain forms of breast and stomach cancer. This followed on a 2008 ruling against drugs -- including Sutent, which costs about $50,000 -- that would help terminally ill kidney-cancer patients. After last year's ruling, Peter Littlejohns, NICE's clinical and public health director, noted that "there is a limited pot of money," that the drugs were of "marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost," and the money might be better spent elsewhere.

In 2007, the board restricted access to two drugs for macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. The drug Macugen was blocked outright. The other, Lucentis, was limited to a particular category of individuals with the disease, restricting it to about one in five sufferers. Even then, the drug was only approved for use in one eye, meaning those lucky enough to get it would still go blind in the other. As Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, explained at the time: "When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give the most benefit to patients."

NICE has limited the use of Alzheimer's drugs, including Aricept, for patients in the early stages of the disease. Doctors in the U.K. argued vociferously that the most effective way to slow the progress of the disease is to give drugs at the first sign of dementia. NICE ruled the drugs were not "cost effective" in early stages.

Other NICE rulings include the rejection of Kineret, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis; Avonex, which reduces the relapse rate in patients with multiple sclerosis; and lenalidomide, which fights multiple myeloma. Private U.S. insurers often cover all, or at least portions, of the cost of many of these NICE-denied drugs.

NICE has also produced guidance that restrains certain surgical operations and treatments. NICE has restrictions on fertility treatments, as well as on procedures for back pain, including surgeries and steroid injections. The U.K. has recently been absorbed by the cases of several young women who developed cervical cancer after being denied pap smears by a related health authority, the Cervical Screening Programme, which in order to reduce government health-care spending has refused the screens to women under age 25.

We could go on. NICE is the target of frequent protests and lawsuits, and at times under political pressure has reversed or watered-down its rulings. But it has by now established the principle that the only way to control health-care costs is for this panel of medical high priests to dictate limits on certain kinds of care to certain classes of patients.

The NICE board even has a mathematical formula for doing so, based on a "quality adjusted life year." While the guidelines are complex, NICE currently holds that, except in unusual cases, Britain cannot afford to spend more than about $22,000 to extend a life by six months. Why $22,000? It seems to be arbitrary, calculated mainly based on how much the government wants to spend on health care. That figure has remained fairly constant since NICE was established and doesn't adjust for either overall or medical inflation.

Proponents argue that such cost-benefit analysis has to figure into health-care decisions, and that any medical system rations care in some way. And it is true that U.S. private insurers also deny reimbursement for some kinds of care. The core issue is whether those decisions are going to be dictated by the brute force of politics (NICE) or by prices (a private insurance system).

The last six months of life are a particularly difficult moral issue because that is when most health-care spending occurs. But who would you rather have making decisions about whether a treatment is worth the price -- the combination of you, your doctor and a private insurer, or a government board that cuts everyone off at $22,000?

One virtue of a private system is that competition allows choice and experimentation. To take an example from one of our recent editorials, Medicare today refuses to reimburse for the new, less invasive preventive treatment known as a virtual colonoscopy, but such private insurers as Cigna and United Healthcare do. As clinical evidence accumulates on the virtual colonoscopy, doctors and insurers will be able to adjust their practices accordingly. NICE merely issues orders, and patients have little recourse.

This has medical consequences. The Concord study published in 2008 showed that cancer survival rates in Britain are among the worst in Europe. Five-year survival rates among U.S. cancer patients are also significantly higher than in Europe: 84% vs. 73% for breast cancer, 92% vs. 57% for prostate cancer. While there is more than one reason for this difference, surely one is medical innovation and the greater U.S. willingness to reimburse for it.

* * *
The NICE precedent also undercuts the Obama Administration's argument that vast health savings can be gleaned simply by automating health records or squeezing out "waste." Britain has tried all of that but ultimately has concluded that it can only rein in costs by limiting care. The logic of a health-care system dominated by government is that it always ends up with some version of a NICE board that makes these life-or-death treatment decisions. The Administration's new Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research currently lacks the authority of NICE. But over time, if the Obama plan passes and taxpayer costs inevitably soar, it could quickly gain it.

Mr. Obama and Democrats claim they can expand subsidies for tens of millions of Americans, while saving money and improving the quality of care. It can't possibly be done. The inevitable result of their plan will be some version of a NICE board that will tell millions of Americans that they are too young, or too old, or too sick to be worth paying to care for.
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ccp
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« Reply #267 on: July 07, 2009, 09:33:31 AM »

I really don't want to pay for medical care for 40 million.
Frankly my dear, I don't care.
Why others can't or just won't say this I dont' know.  Lets stop beating about the Bush.  Anyone think the people who are going to get covered are going to be grateful to those of us who pay for it?
Not a chance.

I have enough trouble paying for my own.
I already work 5 months a year for money that is confiscated.
I said enough.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #268 on: July 08, 2009, 10:10:51 AM »

By LAURA MECKLER and JANET ADAMY
WASHINGTON -- It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said.

"The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest," he said in an interview. "The goal is non-negotiable; the path is" negotiable.

President Barack Obama has campaigned vigorously for a full public option. But he's also said that he won't draw a "line in the sand" over this point. On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement reiterating his support for a public plan.

"I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest," the president said in the statement. "I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals."

The jockeying over the public plan came as the Senate Finance Committee pushed for a bipartisan deal. To help pay for the package, the committee planned to announce an agreement Wednesday with hospitals and the White House for $155 billion over a decade in reductions to Medicare and charity-care payments for hospitals, according to a person familiar with the agreement. That will help pay for the legislation, expected to cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years.

One of the most contentious issues is whether to create a public health-insurance plan to compete with private companies.

Mr. Emanuel said one of several ways to meet Mr. Obama's goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own. He noted that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger mechanism when they created a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare in 2003. In that case, private competition has been judged sufficient and the public option has never gone into effect.

The deal with the hospitals follows a similar agreement with brand-name drug companies. And insurance companies were talking to Senate negotiators about cuts worth at least $100 billion over 10 years, according to two officials with knowledge of the negotiations.

Congressional negotiators and the White House hope to lock in support from the industry groups, which are backing a health bill in general terms but have opposed past efforts.

Hospitals and insurers hope to gain some degree of control over cuts to their federal payments. In principle, a health-care overhaul could benefit both groups by raising the number of Americans who buy and have health insurance.

"They've made an assessment reform is going to happen, so it's better to be part of that than not," Mr. Emanuel said.

However, insurers, and most Republicans, strongly oppose creation of a government-run insurance option, saying it would ultimately drive them out of business. Most Democrats support a public option.

The president and his aides already have signaled a willingness to consider an alternative to a public plan under which a network of nonprofit cooperatives would compete with for-profit insurance companies. That is the leading idea in the Senate Finance Committee.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, meanwhile, has put forward its own version of a government-run plan, closer to what most liberals and the White House favor.

On Monday, Mr. Emanuel said the trigger mechanism would also accomplish the White House's goals. Under this scenario, a public plan would kick in under certain circumstances when competition was judged to be lacking. Exactly what circumstances would trigger the option would have to be worked out.

Some Democrats pushing for a vigorous public plan say the trigger idea isn't good enough. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in an interview, "If it's not there on day one, those of us who support a public option have a real problem with it."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #269 on: July 09, 2009, 09:10:09 AM »



Americans unschooled in liberal health-care politics may have trouble deciphering the White House's conflicting proclamations this week about a new government insurance program for the middle class. Allow us to translate: President Obama loves this so-called public option, but he needs to sell it in a shroud of euphemism and the appearance of "compromise."

On Monday, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told the Journal's Laura Meckler that the Administration would accept a health bill without a public option, as long as there is "a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest . . . The goal is non-negotiable; the path is." Progressives went bonkers, so on Tuesday Mr. Obama took a break from his Moscow trip to come out strongly in favor (again) of the new trillion-dollar entitlement. Meanwhile, New York's Chuck Schumer has been loudly suggesting that compromise is unnecessary given 60 Senate Democrats -- even as the likes of Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu back away.

The reason left-flank Democrats are so adamant about a public option is because they know it is an opening wedge for the government to dominate U.S. health care. That's also why the health-care industry, business groups, some moderates and most Republicans are opposed. Team Obama likes the policies of the first group but wants the political support of the second. And they're trying to solve this Newtonian problem -- irresistible forces, immovable objects -- by becoming less and less candid about the changes they really favor.

Mr. Emanuel echoes his boss and says a government health plan is needed to keep the private sector "honest," but then why don't we also need a state-run oil company, or nationalized grocery store chain? (Or auto maker? Never mind.) The real goal is to create a program backstopped by taxpayers that can exert political leverage over the market.

In its strongest version, the federal plan would receive direct cash subsidies, allowing it to undercut private insurers on consumer prices. This would quickly lead to "crowd out," the tendency of supposedly "free" public programs to displace private insurance. As a general rule, Congress has to spend $2 of taxpayer money to provide $1 in new benefits. More precise academic studies of expansions in Medicaid and the children's insurance program put the crowd-out effect somewhere between 25% and 60%.

Because this is so expensive, the public version Mr. Schumer favors would supposedly receive no special advantages. But this is meaningless when Democrats are planning to mandate the benefits that private insurers must provide, the patients they must accept, and how much they can charge. Oh, and a government plan would still have an implicit taxpayer guarantee a la Fannie Mae, giving it an inherent cost-of-capital advantage.

A few swing votes such as Maine's Olympia Snowe might accept a "trigger," in which a government-run plan would only come on line if certain targets aren't met, such as reducing costs. But that only delays the day of reckoning. Another pseudocompromise is North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad's idea to give the states seed money to set up health insurance co-ops. These plans would still be run under a federal charter and managed by a federal board, so they merely split the public option into 50 pieces.

The other goal of a new public plan is to force doctors and hospitals to accept below-cost fees. This is how Medicare tries to control costs today, but it's like squeezing a balloon: Lower reimbursements mean that providers -- especially hospitals -- must recoup their costs elsewhere, either by shifting costs onto private payers or with more billable tests and procedures. The only way costs can conceivably be managed via price controls is if government is running the whole show, which naturally leads to severe restrictions on care while medical innovation withers.

A rhetorical gong Mr. Obama has been banging a lot lately is the idea that the people pointing all this out are liars. "When you hear the naysayers claim that I'm trying to bring about government-run health care," he said in one speech, "know this: They're not telling the truth." He adds that opposition to a public option isn't "based on any evidence" and that it is "illegitimate" to argue that his program is "is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system."

So much for changing the political tone. Perhaps the President should check in with his more honest liberal allies. Jacob Hacker, now a professor of political science at Berkeley, came up with the intellectual architecture for the public option when he was a graduate student in the 1990s. "Someone once said to me, 'This is a Trojan horse for single payer,' and I said, 'Well, it's not a Trojan horse, right? It's just right there,'" Mr. Hacker explained in a speech last year. "I'm telling you, we're going to get there, over time, slowly."

The real question the political class is debating now is how slowly, or quickly, it takes to get there. And how they're best able to disguise this goal -- ideally as a "compromise."
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ccp
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« Reply #270 on: July 10, 2009, 10:38:26 AM »

Interesting take.  I don't know if he is correct or not but I haven't thought of it from this angle.
As for the AARP, now I am over 50 I get solicitations from them every two days.
I joined for one year but I don't see any great benefits from it.
I wonder how much the people who run it get.

Anyway Dick Morris article:

OBAMA WILL REPEAL MEDICARE
By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann 07.9.2009 Obama’s health care proposal is, in effect, the repeal of the Medicare program as we know it. The elderly will go from being the group with the most access to free medical care to the one with the least access. Indeed, the principal impact of the Obama health care program will be to reduce sharply the medical services the elderly can use. No longer will their every medical need be met, their every medication prescribed, their every need to improve their quality of life answered.

It is so ironic that the elderly - who were so vigilant when Bush proposed to change Social Security - are so relaxed about the Obama health care proposals. Bush’s Social Security plan, which did not cut their benefits at all, aroused the strongest opposition among the elderly. But Obama’s plan, which will totally gut Medicare and replace it with government-managed care and rationing, has elicited little more than a yawn from most senior citizens.

It’s time for the elderly to wake up before it is too late!

In our new book, Catastrophe, we explain - in detail and in depth - the consequences the elderly of Canada are feeling from just this kind of program. Limited colonoscopies have led to a 25% higher rate of colon cancer and a ban on the use of the two best chemotherapies are part of the reason why 42% of Canadians with colon cancer die while 31% of Americans, who have access to these two medications, survive the disease.

Overall, the death rate from cancer in Canada is 16% higher than in the United States and the heart disease mortality rate is 6% above ours’.

Under Obama’s program, there will be a government health insurance company that gets huge subsidies of tax money. It will compete with private insurance plans. But the subsidies will let it undercut the private plans and drive them out of business, leaving only the government plan - a single payer - in effect.

Today, 800,000 doctors struggle to treat adequately the 250 million Americans who have insurance. Obama will add 50 million more to their caseload with no expansion in the number of doctors or nurses. Indeed, his plan will likely reduce their number by lowering reimbursement rates and imposing bureaucrats above them who will force medical decisions down their throats. Fewer doctors will have to treat more patients. The inevitable result will be rationing.

And it is the elderly who rationing will most effect. Who should get a knee replacement a 40 year old or a 70 year old? Who should get a new hip, a young person or an old person? Who should have priority in the operating room a seventy year old diabetic who needs bypass surgery or a younger person? Obviously, it is the elderly who will get short shrift under his proposal.

But the interest groups that usually speak up for the elderly, particularly AARP, are in Obama’s pocket, hoping to profit from his program by becoming one of its vendors. Just as they backed Bush’s prescription drug plan because they anticipating profiting from it, so they are now helping Obama gut the medical care of their constituents.

It is high time that the elderly of America realized what the stakes are in this vital fight to preserve Medicare as we know it and keep medical care open, accessible, and free to those over 65. It is truly a battle for their very lives.

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G M
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« Reply #271 on: July 14, 2009, 11:31:23 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/07/14/an-american-government-health-care-system-you-should-know/

An American government health-care system you should know
POSTED AT 12:16 PM ON JULY 14, 2009 BY ED MORRISSEY   


Over the last few months, as Barack Obama’s plans to transform the health-care industry in America have proceeded, I have written extensively on the two existing government-run health-care systems and their myriad problems: Medicare/Medicaid and the VA.  It seems I missed a third that may be worse than either or perhaps both combined.  Mary Clare Jalonick of the Associated Press provides an eye-opening report on Indian Health Service, a single-payer system that rations care to Native Americans on reservations across the country — and kills them through neglect and a severe lack of resources:

On some reservations, the oft-quoted refrain is “don’t get sick after June,” when the federal dollars run out. It’s a sick joke, and a sad one, because it’s sometimes true, especially on the poorest reservations where residents cannot afford health insurance. Officials say they have about half of what they need to operate, and patients know they must be dying or about to lose a limb to get serious care.

Wealthier tribes can supplement the federal health service budget with their own money. But poorer tribes, often those on the most remote reservations, far away from city hospitals, are stuck with grossly substandard care. The agency itself describes a “rationed health care system.”

The sad fact is an old fact, too.

The U.S. has an obligation, based on a 1787 agreement between tribes and the government, to provide American Indians with free health care on reservations. But that promise has not been kept. About one-third more is spent per capita on health care for felons in federal prison, according to 2005 data from the health service.


Without a doubt, the people on the reservations represent some of the poorest of the poor in America.  Yet we already have a single-payer system in place to provide health care to Native Americans on these reservations.  Do we properly fund it?  Do we make sure that enough resources are applied to ensure good health care?  Not at all.  It is, as the agency itself describes, a system of rationing medical resources, and the end result is a poor population unable to seek out its own care locked into a system that only works when someone is on death’s door.

In fact, as Jalonick reports, it often doesn’t recognize when a patient faces death.  Jalonick profiles the heartrending case of Ta’Shon Rain Little Light, who began complaining of stomach pains at the age of 5, and stopped eating and playing.  The overwhelmed clinic diagnosed her as depressed, and ten subsequent visits to the clinic over the next several months while Ta’Shon’s symptoms worsened didn’t change the diagnosis.  Only when she suffered a collapsed lung did IHS airlift her to Denver, where Ta’Shon was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Could it have been treated?  We’ll never know, thanks to a diagnostic service that appears to be just above the wild-guess level on the reservation.

When government owns the nation’s health-care system, we can all look forward to the same level of care.  After all, as Obama himself insists, a government-run system will “save costs,” but he never explains how those costs get saved.  We will all go into the rationing-system grinder, just as veterans do with the VA, seniors and disabled do with Medicare, and Native Americans do with IHS.
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« Reply #272 on: July 14, 2009, 11:34:14 AM »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090615/ap_on_go_ot/us_health_care_s_forgotten

Read this and tell me how great gov't health care is.
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ccp
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« Reply #273 on: July 14, 2009, 11:47:49 AM »

Don't think for a second that because it is in the New england Journal of Massechussetts liberal propaganda that it is not politically biased.
Folks Health care policy self proclaimed experts like this are at the forefront of the liberal think tanks that advise Democrats.
Notice the guy is a phD who has never taken care of a patient in his life.  I don't get how taxing employer provision of health care is a good idea.  I just don't see it.   I agree with Milton Friedman who thinks the whole concept of empolyer buying health care IS the problem.  But then, what do I know compared to another self proclaimed great one from the halls of IVy league gospel.
His written piece is written like OBama speaks.  Because he says it, it must be so:


*****HEALTH CARE 2009

Previous Volume 361:4-5  July 2, 2009  Number 1
 Next
 
A Win–Win Approach to Financing Health Care Reform

Jonathan Gruber, Ph.D.

No hurdle facing health care reform in the United States today is more daunting than the problem of financing universal coverage. There is an inescapable logic of reform that lies behind the search for financing sources. First, moving to universal coverage is now widely acknowledged to require a mandate that individuals carry insurance coverage. Second, such a requirement is unacceptable without subsidies to make health insurance affordable for lower-income people. Third, these subsidies will require new financing on the order of $1 trillion or more over the next decade. How can the government finance such a sizeable new expenditure?

There are a number of possible sources. One is reductions in existing government spending on health care through cost controls. President Barack Obama proposed more than $300 billion of such cost controls in his budget, but it is not clear that either politicians or providers have the appetite to go further. Another is increased taxation of "sin goods" — cigarettes, alcohol, and high-sugar or high-fat foods that cause obesity — whose use raises the cost of health care for all Americans. These taxes make sense, yet it is difficult to raise sufficient revenues from them. The government can also look outside the health care system to increased revenues from taxes on carbon emissions or on other goods and services. But this approach would involve expanding the fight over health care into other realms, compounding the difficulty of passing any legislation.

There is one final potential source: the elimination or limiting of the income-tax exclusion for expenditures on employer-sponsored insurance. Ending the massive tax subsidy for such insurance would result in both the most natural source of financing for health care reform and one of the few that is clearly large enough to finance the necessary subsidies.

The $250 billion per year in foregone revenues attributable to the tax exclusion of employers' health insurance expenditures represents the federal government's second-largest health insurance expenditure (after Medicare). When my employer pays me in cash wages, I am taxed on those wages. But the roughly $10,000 per year that my employer spends on my health insurance is not taxed, and it translates into a tax break for me of about $4,000. To be clear, this exclusion represents a tax break for individuals, not for firms; firms are largely indifferent about whether they pay employees in wages or in health insurance. But employees are not indifferent: they pay taxes on the former but not on the latter.

This tax exclusion has three flaws. First, the forgone tax revenue is an enormous sum of money that could be more effectively deployed elsewhere, especially through new approaches to increasing insurance coverage. Just taxing health benefits through the income tax as we do wages would raise $2.3 trillion in federal revenues over the next decade. Second, the exclusion is a regressive entitlement, since higher-income families with higher tax rates get a bigger tax break; about three quarters of these dollars go to Americans in the top half of the income distribution. Third, this tax subsidy makes health insurance, which is bought with tax-sheltered dollars, artificially cheap relative to goods bought with taxed dollars — a phenomenon that leads to overinsurance for most Americans and overspending on medical care.

Given these limitations, no health care expert today would ever set up a health care system with such an enormous tax subsidy for a particular form of insurance coverage. So why don't we just remove it? There are four counterarguments to using limits on the exclusion to create a financing source, but each can be effectively addressed.

First, some argue that it would be administratively infeasible to reduce this tax subsidy. But the process of including spending on employer-sponsored insurance in individual income taxation is actually quite straightforward. Employers would simply report the amount they paid for each employee's insurance coverage on the employee's W-2 form. If the employer is self-insured, it would simply use the premium amount it is already required to calculate in providing continuation coverage (or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act [COBRA] coverage) to displaced workers.

The second argument is that since the current predominance of employer-sponsored insurance is predicated on this tax exclusion, policymakers must be wary about removing it: many employers offer health insurance only because of this "tax bribe," and sicker and older persons are treated much more fairly in employer groups than they will be in today's nongroup insurance market. As the provision of employer-sponsored insurance declines, we could end up with a large new uninsured population that either cannot afford nongroup insurance or cannot obtain it at any price. This possibility would certainly be cause for concern if we were reducing the tax exclusion in a vacuum — but not when the policy would be financing a universal coverage plan in which all individuals would get group rates and would be subsidized as necessary. Thus, any displacement from employer-sponsored insurance will lead not to uninsurance but merely to a shift to a new insurance exchange.

The third concern is that removing the exclusion would mean an across-the-board tax increase. I prefer to view this as a progressive tax increase, with 62% of the revenues raised from families with annual incomes of more than $100,000. Yet there would still be a sizeable increase in taxation for middle-income families, with 10% of revenues coming from families with annual incomes below $50,000 and 28% from those with annual incomes of $50,000 to $100,000. For this reason, and because not all the revenues to be gained by removing the exclusion would be needed to finance reform, we should reduce, rather than remove, the exclusion.

The exclusion can be reduced, for example, by capping the amount of employer-sponsored premiums that is excluded from taxation, so that individuals are not taxed on premiums below some level (say, the average value of premiums for employer-sponsored insurance) and pay tax only on premiums in excess of that level. This approach has the advantage of addressing the bias toward excessively generous insurance without raising the taxes of people who have basic insurance. Moreover, it would be more progressive than an across-the-board removal of the exclusion, since higher-income people tend to have more expensive insurance than lower-income people. Alternatively, we could scale back the exclusion only for those in higher income groups; such a strategy could be designed to protect middle-income taxpayers from any tax increase.

Either way, the dollars involved are substantial. For example, suppose the government capped the exclusion at the level of the typical employer-sponsored–insurance premium (currently $4,700 for an individual and $12,800 for a family), starting in 2012, and indexed that cap at the rate of growth of the consumer price index (so that the cap rose, but more slowly than the premiums). Such a policy would raise $500 billion by 2019. Considerable revenues would be raised even with a higher cap. A cap set at the 75th percentile of the premium distribution, so that only insurance plans in the top quarter of the price range were subject to taxation, would raise $330 billion between 2012 and 2019. Or, more progressively, capping the tax exclusion at the level of the typical premium but only for families with annual incomes above $125,000 would raise $340 billion between 2012 and 2019.

A final criticism of reducing the tax exclusion is that it would be unfair to high-cost groups — for example, people living in states where insurance is particularly expensive or those working for employers with an older workforce. But this problem can be readily addressed by adjusting the cap to account for differences among firms in underlying cost factors. Employers, for example, could easily compute an adjustment factor, based on their firm's location or their workers' ages, that could be used to set the cap.

Despite the resistance to changing the status quo, I believe that the most sensible source of financing for universal coverage would come from reducing the expensive, regressive, and inefficient subsidization of employer-sponsored insurance. Scaling back the exclusion would be highly progressive and would have the added benefit of reducing the incentives for overinsurance and excessive health care spending. This win–win solution would ameliorate a fundamental flaw in our current system while raising the revenues required to cover the uninsured.

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


Source Information

From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. *****
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #274 on: July 15, 2009, 10:18:28 AM »

Surprise, surprise, we already have a single payer, government administered health care plan in the US. I wonder how what it's like:

PROMISES, PROMISES: Indian health care's victims

BY MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer
Mon Jun 15, 8:56 am ET

CROW AGENCY, Mont. – Ta'Shon Rain Little Light, a happy little girl who loved to dance and dress up in traditional American Indian clothes, had stopped eating and walking. She complained constantly to her mother that her stomach hurt.
When Stephanie Little Light took her daughter to the Indian Health Service clinic in this wind-swept and remote corner of Montana, they told her the 5-year-old was depressed.
Ta'Shon's pain rapidly worsened and she visited the clinic about 10 more times over several months before her lung collapsed and she was airlifted to a children's hospital in Denver. There she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, confirming the suspicions of family members.
A few weeks later, a charity sent the whole family to Disney World so Ta'Shon could see Cinderella's Castle, her biggest dream. She never got to see the castle, though. She died in her hotel bed soon after the family arrived in Florida.
"Maybe it would have been treatable," says her great-aunt, Ada White, as she stoically recounts the last few months of Ta'Shon's short life. Stephanie Little Light cries as she recalls how she once forced her daughter to walk when she was in pain because the doctors told her it was all in the little girl's head.
Ta'Shon's story is not unique in the Indian Health Service system, which serves almost 2 million American Indians in 35 states.
On some reservations, the oft-quoted refrain is "don't get sick after June," when the federal dollars run out. It's a sick joke, and a sad one, because it's sometimes true, especially on the poorest reservations where residents cannot afford health insurance. Officials say they have about half of what they need to operate, and patients know they must be dying or about to lose a limb to get serious care.
Wealthier tribes can supplement the federal health service budget with their own money. But poorer tribes, often those on the most remote reservations, far away from city hospitals, are stuck with grossly substandard care. The agency itself describes a "rationed health care system."
The sad fact is an old fact, too.
The U.S. has an obligation, based on a 1787 agreement between tribes and the government, to provide American Indians with free health care on reservations. But that promise has not been kept. About one-third more is spent per capita on health care for felons in federal prison, according to 2005 data from the health service.
In Washington, a few lawmakers have tried to bring attention to the broken system as Congress attempts to improve health care for millions of other Americans. But tightening budgets and the relatively small size of the American Indian population have worked against them.
"It is heartbreaking to imagine that our leaders in Washington do not care, so I must believe that they do not know," Joe Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in his annual state of Indian nations' address in February.
___
When it comes to health and disease in Indian country, the statistics are staggering.
American Indians have an infant death rate that is 40 percent higher than the rate for whites. They are twice as likely to die from diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have a stroke, 30 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 20 percent more likely to have heart disease.
American Indians have disproportionately high death rates from unintentional injuries and suicide, and a high prevalence of risk factors for obesity, substance abuse, sudden infant death syndrome, teenage pregnancy, liver disease and hepatitis.
While campaigning on Indian reservations, presidential candidate Barack Obama cited this statistic: After Haiti, men on the impoverished Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota have the lowest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere.
Those on reservations qualify for Medicare and Medicaid coverage. But a report by the Government Accountability Office last year found that many American Indians have not applied for those programs because of lack of access to the sign-up process; they often live far away or lack computers. The report said that some do not sign up because they believe the government already has a duty to provide them with health care.
The office of minority health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Indian Health Service, notes on its Web site that American Indians "frequently contend with issues that prevent them from receiving quality medical care. These issues include cultural barriers, geographic isolation, inadequate sewage disposal and low income."
Indeed, Indian health clinics often are ill-equipped to deal with such high rates of disease, and poor clinics do not have enough money to focus on preventive care. The main problem is a lack of federal money. American Indian programs are not a priority for Congress, which provided the health service with $3.6 billion this budget year.
Officials at the health service say they can't legally comment on specific cases such as Ta'Shon's. But they say they are doing the best they can with the money they have — about 54 cents on the dollar they need.
One of the main problems is that many clinics must "buy" health care from larger medical facilities outside the health service because the clinics are not equipped to handle more serious medical conditions. The money that Congress provides for those contract health care services is rarely sufficient, forcing many clinics to make "life or limb" decisions that leave lower-priority patients out in the cold.
"The picture is much bigger than what the Indian Health Service can do," says Doni Wilder, an official at the agency's headquarters in Rockville, Md., and the former director of the agency's Northwestern region. "Doctors every day in our organization are making decisions about people not getting cataracts removed, gall bladders fixed."
On the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, Indian Health Service staff say they are trying to improve conditions. They point out recent improvements to their clinic, including a new ambulance bay. But in interviews on the reservation, residents were eager to share stories about substandard care.
Rhonda Sandland says she couldn't get help for her advanced frostbite until she threatened to kill herself because of the pain — several months after her first appointment. She says she was exposed to temperatures at more than 50 below, and her hands turned purple. She eventually couldn't dress herself, she says, and she visited the clinic over and over again, sometimes in tears.
"They still wouldn't help with the pain so I just told them that I had a plan," she said. "I was going to sleep in my car in the garage."
She says the clinic then decided to remove five of her fingers, but a visiting doctor from Bismarck, N.D., intervened, giving her drugs instead. She says she eventually lost the tops of her fingers and the top layer of skin.
The same clinic failed to diagnose Victor Brave Thunder with congestive heart failure, giving him Tylenol and cough syrup when he told a doctor he was uncomfortable and had not slept for several days. He eventually went to a hospital in Bismarck, which immediately admitted him. But he had permanent damage to his heart, which he attributed to delays in treatment. Brave Thunder, 54, died in April while waiting for a heart transplant.
"You can talk to anyone on the reservation and they all have a story," says Tracey Castaway, whose sister, Marcella Buckley, said she was in $40,000 of debt because of treatment for stomach cancer.
Buckley says she visited the clinic for four years with stomach pains and was given a variety of diagnoses, including the possibility of a tapeworm and stress-related stomachaches. She was eventually told she had Stage 4 cancer that had spread throughout her body.
Ron His Horse is Thunder, chairman of the Standing Rock tribe, says his remote reservation on the border between North Dakota and South Dakota can't attract or maintain doctors who know what they are doing. Instead, he says, "We get old doctors that no one else wants or new doctors who need to be trained."
His Horse is Thunder often travels to Washington to lobby for more money and attention, but he acknowledges that improvements are tough to come by.
"We are not one congruent voting bloc in any one state or area," he said. "So we don't have the political clout."
___
On another reservation 200 miles north of Standing Rock, Ardel Baker, a member of North Dakota's Three Affiliated Tribes, knows all too well the truth behind the joke about money running out.
Baker went to her local clinic with severe chest pains and was sent by ambulance to a hospital more than an hour away. It wasn't until she got there that she noticed she had a note attached to her, written on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services letterhead.
"Understand that Priority 1 care cannot be paid for at this time due to funding issues," the letter read. "A formal denial letter has been issued."
She lived, but she says she later received a bill for more than $5,000.
"That really epitomizes the conflict that we have," says Robert McSwain, deputy director of the Indian Health Service. "We have to move the patient out, it's an emergency. We need to get them care."
It was too late for Harriet Archambault, according to the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who has told her story more than once in the Senate.
Dorgan says Archambault died in 2007 after her medicine for hypertension ran out and she couldn't get an appointment to refill it at the nearest clinic, 18 miles away. She drove to the clinic five times and failed to get an appointment before she died.
Dorgan's swath of the country is the hardest hit in terms of Indian health care. Many reservations there are poor, isolated, devoid of economic development opportunities and subject to long, harsh winters — making it harder for the health service to recruit doctors to practice there.
While the agency overall has an 18 percent vacancy rate for doctors, that rate jumps to 38 percent for the region that includes the Dakotas. That region also has a 29 percent vacancy rate for dentists, and officials and patients report there is almost no preventive dental care. Routine procedures such as root canals are rarely seen here. If there's a problem with a tooth, it is simply pulled.
Dorgan has led efforts in Congress to bring attention to the issue. After many years of talking to frustrated patients at home in North Dakota, he says he believes the problems are systemic within the embattled agency: incompetent staffers are transferred instead of fired; there are few staff to handle complaints; and, in some cases, he says, there is a culture of intimidation within field offices charged with overseeing individual clinics.
The senator has also probed waste at the agency.
A 2008 GAO report, along with a follow-up report this year, accused the Indian Health Service of losing almost $20 million in equipment, including vehicles, X-ray and ultrasound equipment and numerous laptops. The agency says some of the items were later found.
Dorgan persuaded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to consider an American Indian health improvement bill last year, and the bill passed in the Senate. It would have directed Congress to provide about $35 billion for health programs over the next 10 years, including better access to health care services, screening and mental health programs. A similar bill died in the House, though, after it became entangled in an abortion dispute.
The growing political clout of some remote reservations may bring some attention to health care woes. Last year's Democratic presidential primary played out in part in the Dakotas and Montana, where both Obama and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first presidential candidates to aggressively campaign on American Indian reservations there. Both politicians promised better health care.
Obama's budget for 2010 includes an increase of $454 million, or about 13 percent, over this year. Also, the stimulus bill he signed this year provided for construction and improvements to clinics.
___
Back in Montana, Ta'Shon's parents are doing what they can to bring awareness to the issue. They have prepared a slideshow with pictures of her brief life; she is seen dressed up in traditional regalia she wore for dance competitions with a bright smile on her face. Family members approached Dorgan at a Senate field hearing on American Indian health care after her death in 2006, hoping to get the little girl's story out.
"She was a gift, so bright and comforting," says Ada White of her niece, whom she calls her granddaughter according to Crow tradition. "I figure she was brought here for a reason."
Nearby, the clinic on the Crow reservation seems mostly empty, aside from the crowded waiting room. The hospital is down several doctors, a shortage that management attributes recruitment difficulties and the remote location.
Diane Wetsit, a clinical coordinator, said she finds it difficult to think about the congressional bailout for Wall Street.
"I have a hard time with that when I walk down the hallway and see what happens here," she says.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090615/ap_on_go_ot/us_health_care_s_forgotten/print;_ylt=AsAiGQwA3K1f_6nUFlb3ewN2wPIE;_ylu=X3oDMTB1MjgxN2UzBHBvcwMxNARzZWMDdG9vbHMtdG9wBHNsawNwcmludA--
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ccp
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« Reply #275 on: July 15, 2009, 11:11:53 AM »

Here is another one from the NEJM.  This one makes more sense and I agree with it in part that the answer is very complicated.
I agree we need to do something as costs will continue escalate.  Adding "47" million (if that is the number or all BS, I don't know) new people to the rolls (including nearly 10 million illegals - if the number is accurate - I suspect it may be even more) will only intensify costs, drive the economy into the gutter, result in rationed care, and make the rest of us pay for it all.
I am not sure by any means if a "value based system" is the answer but I do agree that many of the supposed answers being thrown around like electronic medical records, single payer system, government run health care, more preventative care, following guidelines (rationing) often sold as better value care, and all the other buzz phrases are just that.

I think this guy is right that it would take revolutionary new steps toward different delivery systems to even begin to control costs.

In the meantime, guaranteeing care as a right to everyone in the US, citizen or not, is also guaranteeing a collapse in quality care for the rest of us.  Specialists will be forced to accept even less payments, hospitals will be rationing services, and primary doctors will be replaced by nurses.  I don't see it any other way.

Somehow I feel like the majority are being made to be the slave labor for the minority who get entitlements.  The concept of a "safety net" has morphed into permanent slave-entitlement classes.  Bama is accelerating this and making it permanent.

****A Strategy for Health Care Reform — Toward a Value-Based System

Michael E. Porter, Ph.D.

Despite many waves of debate and piecemeal reforms, the U.S. health care system remains largely the same as it was decades ago. We have seen no convincing approach to changing the unsustainable trajectory of the system, much less to offsetting the rising costs of an aging population and new medical advances.

Today there is a new openness to changing a system that all agree is broken. What we need now is a clear national strategy that sets forth a comprehensive vision for the kind of health care system we want to achieve and a path for getting there. The central focus must be on increasing value for patients — the health outcomes achieved per dollar spent.1 Good outcomes that are achieved efficiently are the goal, not the false "savings" from cost shifting and restricted services. Indeed, the only way to truly contain costs in health care is to improve outcomes: in a value-based system, achieving and maintaining good health is inherently less costly than dealing with poor health.

True reform will require both moving toward universal insurance coverage and restructuring the care delivery system. These two components are profoundly interrelated, and both are essential. Achieving universal coverage is crucial not only for fairness but also to enable a high-value delivery system. When many people lack access to primary and preventive care and cross-subsidies among patients create major inefficiencies, high-value care is difficult to achieve. This is a principal reason why countries with universal insurance have lower health care spending than the United States. However, expanded access without improved value is unsustainable and sure to fail. Even countries with universal coverage are facing rapidly rising costs and serious quality problems; they, too, have a pressing need to restructure delivery.2,3,4

How can we achieve universal coverage in a way that will support, rather than impede, a fundamental reorientation of the delivery system around value for patients? There are several critical steps.

First, we must change the nature of health insurance competition. Insurers, whether private or public, should prosper only if they improve their subscribers' health. Today, health plans compete by selecting healthier subscribers, denying services, negotiating deeper discounts, and shifting more costs to subscribers. This zero-sum approach has given competition — and health insurers — a bad name. Instead, health plans must compete on value. We must introduce regulations to end coverage and price discrimination based on health risks or existing health problems. In addition, health plans should be required to measure and report their subscribers' health outcomes, starting with a group of important medical conditions. Such reporting will help consumers choose health plans on the basis of value and discourage insurers from skimping on high-value services, such as preventive care. Health insurers that compete this way will drive value in the system far more effectively than government monopolies can.

Second, we must keep employers in the insurance system. Employers have a vested interest in their employees' health. Daily interactions with their workforce enable employers to create value by developing a culture of wellness, enabling effective prevention and screening, and directing employees to high-value providers. Employers can also foster competition and drive broader system improvement in ways that are difficult for government entities to replicate. To motivate employers to stay in the system, we must reduce the extra amount they now pay through higher insurance costs to cover the uninsured and subsidize government programs. We must also create a level playing field for employers that offer coverage by penalizing employers that are free riders.

Third, we need to address the unfair burden on people who have no access to employer-based coverage, who therefore face higher premiums and greater difficulty securing coverage. This means first equalizing the tax deductibility of insurance purchased by individuals and through employers.

Fourth, to make individual insurance affordable, we need large statewide or multistate insurance pools, like the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector, to spread risk and enable contracting for coverage and premiums equivalent to or better than those of the largest employer-based plans. Regional pools, instead of a national pool, will result in greater accountability to subscribers and closer interaction with regional provider networks, fostering value-based competition. We also need a reinsurance system that equitably spreads the cost of insuring Americans with very expensive health problems across both regional pools and employers.

Fifth, income-based subsidies will be needed to help lower-income people buy insurance. These subsidies can be partially offset through payments from employers that do not provide coverage but whose employees require public assistance.

Finally, once a value-based insurance market has been established, everyone must be required to purchase health insurance so that younger and healthier people cannot opt out. This will bring substantial new revenues into the system, lowering premiums for everyone and reducing the need for subsidies.

Although most U.S. health care reform efforts have focused on coverage, the far bigger long-term driver of success will come from restructuring the delivery system. That is where most of the value is created and most of the costs are incurred.

The current delivery system is not organized around value for patients, which is why incremental reforms have not lived up to expectations. Our system rewards those who shift costs, bargain away or capture someone else's revenues, and bill for more services, not those who deliver the most value. The focus is on minimizing the cost of each intervention and limiting services rather than on maximizing value over the entire care cycle. Moreover, without comprehensive outcome measurement, it is hard to know what improves value and what does not.

To achieve a value-based delivery system, we need to follow a series of mutually reinforcing steps. First, measurement and dissemination of health outcomes should become mandatory for every provider and every medical condition. Results data not only will drive providers and health plans to improve outcomes and efficiency but also will help patients and health plans choose the best provider teams for their medical circumstances.

Outcomes must be measured over the full cycle of care for a medical condition, not separately for each intervention. Outcomes of care are inherently multidimensional, including not only survival but also the degree of health or recovery achieved, the time needed for recovery, the discomfort of care, and the sustainability of recovery.5 Outcomes must be adjusted for patients' initial conditions to eliminate bias against patients with complex cases.

We need to measure true health outcomes rather than relying solely on process measures, such as compliance with practice guidelines, which are incomplete and slow to change. We must also stop using one or a few measures as a proxy for a provider's overall quality of care. Performance on a measure such as mortality within 30 days after acute myocardial infarction, for example, says little about a provider's care for patients with cancer. Active involvement of the federal government will be needed to ensure universal, consistent, and fair measurement throughout the country, like that already achieved in areas such as organ transplantation.

Since implementing outcome measurement will take time, an interim step should be to require every provider team to report its experience or the volume of patients treated for each medical condition, along with the procedure or treatment approach used. Experience reporting by providers will help patients and their doctors find the providers with the expertise that meets their needs.

Second, we need to radically reexamine how to organize the delivery of prevention, wellness, screening, and routine health maintenance services. The problem is not only that the system underinvests in these services relative to the value they can create but also that primary care providers are asked to deliver disparate services with limited staff to excessively broad patient populations. As a result, delivery of such care is fragmented and often ineffective and inefficient. We need structures for the delivery of specified prevention and wellness service bundles to defined patient populations with unified reimbursement. Employers with on-site health clinics are achieving extraordinary success in providing such services, highlighting the need for new delivery channels beyond conventional settings.

Third, we need to reorganize care delivery around medical conditions. Our system of uncoordinated, sequential visits to multiple providers, physicians, departments, and specialties works against value. Instead, we need to move to integrated practice units that encompass all the skills and services required over the full cycle of care for each medical condition, including common coexisting conditions and complications. Such units should include outpatient and inpatient care, testing, education and coaching, and rehabilitation within the same actual or virtual organization. This structure, organized around the patient's needs, will result in care with much higher value and a far better experience for patients. Government policies creating artificial obstacles to integrated, multidisciplinary care (e.g., the Stark laws) should be modified or eliminated. In a value-based system, the abuses that gave rise to such legislation will decline substantially.

Fourth, we need a reimbursement system that aligns everyone's interests around improving value for patients. Reimbursement must move to single bundled payments covering the entire cycle of care for a medical condition, including all providers and services. Bundled payments will shift the focus to restoring and maintaining health, providing a mix of services that optimizes outcomes, and reorganizing care into integrated practice structures. For chronic conditions, bundled payments should cover extended periods of care and include responsibility for evaluating and addressing complications.

Fifth, we must expect and require providers to compete for patients, based on value at the medical-condition level, both within and across state borders. This will allow excellent providers to grow and serve more patients while reducing hyperfragmentation and duplication of services. In order to achieve high value, providers need a sufficient volume of cases of a given medical condition to allow for the development of deep expertise, integrated teams, and tailored facilities. We may need to institute minimum-volume thresholds for complex medical conditions in order to jump-start consolidation and spur geographic expansion of qualified providers. At the same time, strict antitrust scrutiny must be applied to avoid excessive concentration among a small number of providers or health plans in a region.

Sixth, electronic medical records will enable value improvement, but only if they support integrated care and outcome measurement. Simply automating current delivery practices will be a hugely expensive exercise in futility. Among our highest near-term priorities is to finalize and then continuously update health information technology (HIT) standards that include precise data definitions (for diagnoses and treatments, for example), an architecture for aggregating data for each patient over time and across providers, and protocols for seamless communication among systems.

Finally, consumers must become much more involved in their health and health care. Unless patients comply with care and take responsibility for their health, even the best doctor or team will fail. Simply forcing consumers to pay more for their care is not the answer. New integrated care delivery structures, together with bundled reimbursement for full care cycles, will enable vast improvements in patient engagement, as will the availability of good outcome data.

Comprehensive reform will require simultaneous progress in all these areas because they are mutually reinforcing. For example, outcome measurement not only will improve insurance-market competition but also will drive the restructuring of care delivery. Delivery restructuring will be accelerated by bundled reimbursement. Electronic medical records will facilitate both delivery restructuring and outcome measurement.

Moving ahead now on all these fronts is also important in order to align every stakeholder's interest with value, or reform will once again fail. However, a health care strategy, like any good strategy, involves a sequence of steps over time rather than an attempt to change everything at once. Road maps will be needed for rolling out changes in each area while giving the actors time to adjust.

Some new organizations (or combinations of existing ones) will be needed: a new independent body to oversee outcome measurement and reporting, a single entity to review and set HIT standards, and possibly a third body to establish rules for bundled reimbursement. Medicare may be able to take the lead in some areas; for example, Medicare could require experience reporting by providers or combine Parts A and B into one payment.

The big question is whether we can move beyond a reactive and piecemeal approach to a true national health care strategy centered on value. This undertaking is complex, but the only real solution is to align everyone in the system around a common goal: doing what's right for patients.

Dr. Porter reports receiving lecture fees from the American Surgical Association, the American Medical Group Association, the World Health Care Congress, Hoag Hospital, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, receiving director's fees from Thermo Fisher Scientific, and having an equity interest in Thermo Fisher Scientific, Genzyme, Zoll Medical, Merck, and Pfizer. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.****

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DougMacG
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« Reply #276 on: July 15, 2009, 11:50:39 AM »

Here is a flow chart of the new, simplified 1000+ page Democrat Health Plan:
http://docs.house.gov/gopleader/House-Democrats-Health-Plan.pdf
It's just as simple as that. (sarc.)
Sorry I'm not able to post the image from the pdf. I hope someone else can.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #277 on: July 15, 2009, 05:37:53 PM »

Doug's chart:

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« Reply #278 on: July 15, 2009, 05:40:41 PM »

Universal Health Care Isn't Worth Our Freedom
What would Thoreau have made of the current debate?
By THOMAS SZASZ

People who seek the services of auto mechanics want car repair, not "auto care." Similarly, most people who seek the services of medical doctors want body repair, not "health care."

We own our cars, are responsible for the cost of maintaining them, and decide what needs fixing based partly on balancing the seriousness of the problem against the expense of repairing it. Our health-care system rests on the principle that, although we own our bodies, the community or state ought to be responsible for paying the cost of repairing them. This is for the ostensibly noble purpose of redistributing the potentially ruinous expense of the medical care of unfortunate individuals.

But what is health care? The concept of reimbursable health-care service rests on the premise that the medical problem in need of servicing is the result of involuntary, unwanted happenings, not the result of voluntary, goal-directed behavior. Leukemia, lupus, prostate cancer, and many infectious diseases are unwanted happenings. Are we going to count obesity, smoking, depression and schizophrenia as the same kinds of diseases?

Many Americans would willingly pay for insurance to protect them against the exorbitant cost of treating their own leukemia. But how many Americans would willingly pay for insurance to protect them from the expenses of treating their own depression?

Everyone recognizes that the more fully we wish insurance companies to defray our out of pocket expenses for our car repairs, the higher the premium they will charge for the policy. Yet foregoing reimbursement for trivial or unnecessary health-care costs in return for a more suitable health-care policy is an option unavailable under the present system. Everyone with health insurance is compelled to protect himself from risks, such as alcoholism and erectile dysfunction, that he would willingly shoulder in exchange for a lower premium.

The idea that every life is infinitely precious and therefore everyone deserves the same kind of optimal medical care is a fine religious sentiment and moral ideal. As political and economic policy, it is vainglorious delusion. Rich and educated people not only receive better goods and services in all areas of life than do poor and uneducated people, they also tend to take better care of themselves and their possessions, which in turn leads to better health. The first requirement for better health care for all is not equal health care for everyone but educational and economic advancement for everyone.

Our national conversation about curbing the cost of health care is crippled by the vocabulary in which we conduct it. We must stop talking about "health care" as if it were some kind of collective public service, like fire protection, provided equally to everyone who needs it. No government can provide the same high quality body repair services to everyone. Not all doctors are equally good physicians, and not all sick persons are equally good patients.

If we persevere in our quixotic quest for a fetishized medical equality we will sacrifice personal freedom as its price. We will become the voluntary slaves of a "compassionate" government that will provide the same low quality health care to everyone.

Henry David Thoreau famously remarked, "If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life." Thoreau feared a single, unarmed man approaching him with such a passion in his heart. Too many people now embrace the coercive apparatus of the modern state professing the same design.

Dr. Szasz is emeritus professor of psychiatry at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. He is author of "The Myth of Mental Illness," among other books (HarperCollins, 1961).

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124761945269242551.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #279 on: July 16, 2009, 10:01:23 AM »

A friend writes:
=======================

Here it is, Page 16 of the Health Care bill
 
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law."
 
You leave a company with health care and go to a different company with a different carrier,  you are screwed.  You must go into the government plan. 
 
Start up your own company, you are forced into the government plan.
 
Obamism is alive and well

Here it is, Page 16 of the Health Care bill
 
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law."
 
You leave a company with health care and go to a different company with a different carrier,  you are screwed.  You must go into the government plan. 
 
Start up your own company, you are forced into the government plan.
 
Obamism is alive and well
-----------------------------

SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE.

(a) Grandfathered Health Insurance Coverage Defined- Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term `grandfathered health insurance coverage' means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:

(1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT-

(A) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.

(B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PERMITTED- Subparagraph (A) shall not affect the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an individual who is covered as of such first day.

(2) LIMITATION ON CHANGES IN TERMS OR CONDITIONS- Subject to paragraph (3) and except as required by law, the issuer does not change any of its terms or conditions, including benefits and cost-sharing, from those in effect as of the day before the first day of Y1.

(3) RESTRICTIONS ON PREMIUM INCREASES- The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific grandfathered health insurance coverage without changing the premium for all enrollees in the same risk group at the same rate, as specified by the Commissioner.

(b) Grace Period for Current Employment-based Health Plans-

(1) GRACE PERIOD-

(A) IN GENERAL- The Commissioner shall establish a grace period whereby, for plan years beginning after the end of the 5-year period beginning with Y1, an employment-based health plan in operation as of the day before the first day of Y1 must meet the same requirements as apply to a qualified health benefits plan under section 101, including the essential benefit package requirement under section 121.

(B) EXCEPTION FOR LIMITED BENEFITS PLANS- Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to an employment-based health plan in which the coverage consists only of one or more of the following:

(i) Any coverage described in section 3001(a)(1)(B)(ii)(IV) of division B of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

(ii) Excepted benefits (as defined in section 733(c) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974), including coverage under a specified disease or illness policy described in paragraph (3)(A) of such section.

(iii) Such other limited benefits as the Commissioner may specify.

In no case shall an employment-based health plan in which the coverage consists only of one or more of the coverage or benefits described in clauses (i) through (iii) be treated as acceptable coverage under this division

(2) TRANSITIONAL TREATMENT AS ACCEPTABLE COVERAGE- During the grace period specified in paragraph (1)(A), an employment-based health plan that is described in such paragraph shall be treated as acceptable coverage under this division.

(c) Limitation on Individual Health Insurance Coverage-

(1) IN GENERAL- Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan.

(2) SEPARATE, EXCEPTED COVERAGE PERMITTED- Excepted benefits (as defined in section 2791(c) of the Public Health Service Act ) are not included within the definition of health insurance coverage. Nothing in paragraph (1) shall prevent the offering, other than through the Health Insurance Exchange, of excepted benefits so long as it is offered and priced separately from health insurance coverage.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #280 on: July 16, 2009, 11:05:18 AM »

Doug's chart explained:



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #281 on: July 16, 2009, 12:41:41 PM »

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnal...aspx?id=482329
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #282 on: July 16, 2009, 01:33:57 PM »

CBO Chief Criticizes Democrats' Health Reform Measures
Director Says Proposed Changes Would Weaken Economy
By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009 1:51 PM

Instead of saving the federal government from fiscal catastrophe, the health reform measures being drafted by congressional Democrats would worsen an already bleak budget outlook, increasing deficit projections and driving the nation more deeply into debt, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this morning.

Under questioning by members of the Senate Budget Committee, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said bills crafted by House leaders and the Senate health committee do not propose "the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount."

"On the contrary," Elmendorf said, "the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs."

Though President Obama and Democratic leaders have said repeatedly that reining in the skyrocketing growth in spending on government health programs such as Medicaid and Medicare is their top priority, the reform measures put forth so far would not fulfill their pledge to "bend the cost curve" downward, Elmendorf said. Instead, he said, "The curve is being raised."

The CBO is the official arbiter of the costs of legislation, and Elmendorf's stark testimony is certain to undermine support for the measures even as three House panels begin debate and aim to put a bill on the House floor before the August recess. Fiscal conservatives in the House, known as the Blue Dogs, were already threatening to block passage of legislation in the Energy and Commerce Committee, primarily due to concerns about the long-term costs of the House bill.

Cost is also a major issue in the Senate, where some moderate Democrats have joined Republicans in calling on Obama to drop his demand that both chambers approve a bill before the August recess. While the Senate health committee approved its bill on Wednesday with no Republican votes, members of the Senate Finance Committee were still struggling to craft a bipartisan measure that does more to restrain costs.

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), has taken a leading role in that effort. This morning, after receiving Elmendorf's testimony on the nation's long-term budget outlook, Conrad turned immediately to questions about the emerging health care measures.

"I'm going to really put you on the spot," Conrad told Elmendorf. "From what you have seen from the products of the committees that have reported, do you see a successful effort being mounted to bend the long-term cost curve?"

Elmendorf responded: "No, Mr. Chairman."

Asked what provisions would be needed to slow the growth in federal health spending, Elmendorf urged lawmakers to end or limit the tax-free treatment of employer-provided health benefits, calling it a federal "subsidy" that encourages spending on ever more expensive health packages. Key senators, including Conrad, have been pressing to tax employer-provided benefits, but Senate leaders last week objected, saying the idea does not have enough support among Senate Democrats to win passage.

Elmendorf also suggested changing the way Medicare reimburses providers to create incentives for reducing costs.

"Certain reforms of that sort are included in some of the packages," Elmendorf said. "But the changes that we have looked at so far do not represent the sort of fundamental change, the order of magnitude that would be necessary to offset the direct increase in federal health costs that would result from the insurance coverage proposals."

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) dismissed Elmendorf's push for the benefits tax. "What he should do is maybe run for Congress," Reid said.

But Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) expressed frustration that the tax on employer-funded benefits had fallen out of favor, in part because the White House opposes the idea. Critics of the proposal say it would target police and firefighters who receive generous benefits packages. And if the tax is trimmed to apply only to upper income beneficiaries, it would lose its effectiveness as a cost-containment measure.

"Basically the president is not helping," Baucus said. "He does not want the exclusion, and that's making it difficult."

But he added, "We are clearly going to find ways to bend the cost curve in the right direction, including provisions that will actually lower the rate of increase in health care costs."

Ideas under consideration include health-care delivery system reform; health insurance market reform; and empowering an independent agency to set Medicare reimbursement rates, an idea the White House is shopping aggressively on Capitol Hill.

But Baucus is not giving up on the benefits tax. "It is not off the table, there's still a lot of interest in it," Baucus said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/16/AR2009071602242.html?hpid=topnews
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #283 on: July 17, 2009, 12:17:48 PM »

Some amusing takes on health care:

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« Reply #284 on: July 18, 2009, 12:01:37 PM »

GOV'T CARE COSTS MORE
By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON

July 18, 2009 --
THE testimony by Congres sional Budget Office chief Douglas Elmendorf that the health-care legislation in Congress "significantly expands" costs shocked Capitol Hill. Yet the evidence shows that government-run care has always been more costly than private-sector care.

In claiming that the solution to skyrocketing health costs is more government-run care, President Obama has relied on a myth -- the belief that Medicare and Medicaid have restrained the growth in health expenses, relative to private care.

My new study, published by the Pacific Research Institute, shows that -- across four decades -- the costs of government-run health care have risen far more than the costs of private care.

My study compares the cost increases of Medicare and Medicaid with those of all other health care in the United States. The key finding: Since 1970, Medicare and Medicaid's costs have risen one-third more, per patient, than the combined costs of all other health care in America -- the vast majority of which is purchased privately.

Since 1970, Medicare and Medicaid's combined per-patient costs have risen from $344 to $8,955, while the combined per-patient costs of all other US health care have risen from $364 to $7,119.

Medicare and Medicaid used to cost $20 less per patient than other care. Now they cost $1,836 more. (And that's even without the Medicare prescription-drug benefit.)

In fact, if the costs of Medicare and Medicaid had risen only as much as the costs of all other health care in America, then, instead of costing a combined $807 billion last year, they would've cost a combined $606 billion. That savings of $201 billion would have amounted to more than $1,750 per American household last year alone.

These conclusions are true despite very generous treatment of Medicare and Medicaid. My analysis counts all Medicare prescription-drug expenditures as part of privately purchased care, rather than as part of Medicare. It doesn't adjust for billions of dollars in cost-shifting from Medicaid to the SCHIP program. And it counts health care purchased privately by Medicaid and Medicare patients (including Medicare co-payments and Medigap insurance) among the costs of private care, without counting those patients among the recipients of private care -- thereby magnifying private care's per-patient costs.

Despite such generous treatment, since 1970, Medicaid's per-patient costs have risen 35 percent more, and Medicare's 34 percent more, than all other health care in America.

President Obama says we must expand government-run health care to contain costs and that we don't have a minute to lose. But nearly 40 years of evidence shows that government-run care has succeeded only in raising costs.

During an economic downturn in which we are already running higher budget deficits than at the height of the Great Depression (even as a percentage of our gross domestic product), wishful thinking and empty rhetoric shouldn't be allowed to trump empirical evidence.

In truth, there's only one reliable pursuer of value in American health care: the American consumer. If Congress and the president are serious about improving our nation's health care, they should end the tax discrimination against the uninsured -- that is, allow others to purchase care with pre-tax dollars in the way that we now permit only for those with employer-provided insurance. They should promote a more vibrant private market with greater competition across state lines, greater consumer freedom and greater incentives for consumers to pursue value. These are the changes we need.

The empirical evidence is in, and the verdict could hardly be plainer: Government-run health care limits choice and is more expensive. Privately purchased care offers choice and is more affordable.

Only the federal government could struggle to choose between these two alternatives.

Jeffrey H. Anderson is a senior fellow in health-care studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/07182009/postopinion/opedcolumnists/govt_care_costs_more_179841.htm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #285 on: July 18, 2009, 07:39:22 PM »

Abridged version: (for full version see: http://www.stumblingontruth.com/main.aspx# )

What We Know That Ain't So

Will Rogers famously said, "It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so." So it is with the health care debate in this country. Quite a few "facts" offered to the public as truth are simply wrong and often intentionally misleading.

There are large groups of people in this country who want socialized medicine and they sense that the stars are aligning, and now is their time to succeed. They rarely call it socialized medicine, but instead "single payer health care" or "universal coverage" or something that their public relations people have told them sounds better. Whatever they call it, they believe (or pretend to believe) a lot of wrong-headed things, and they must be stopped. Step one is understanding how and why they are wrong. Step two is kicking their asses back to Cuba where they can get in line with Michael Moore and Al Gore for their free gastric bypasses.

Myth #1 Health Care Costs are Soaring

No, they are not. The amount we spend on health care has indeed risen, in absolute terms, after inflation, and as a percentage of our incomes and GDP. That does not mean costs are soaring.

You cannot judge the "cost" of something by simply what you spend. You must also judge what you get. I'm reasonably certain the cost of 1950's level health care has dropped in real terms over the last 60 years (and you can probably have a barber from the year 1500 bleed you for almost nothing nowadays). Of course, with 1950's health care, lots of things will kill you that 2009 health care could prevent.

In the case of health care, the fact that we spend so much more on it now is largely a positive. We spend so much more on health care, even relative to other advances, mostly because it is worth so much more to us.

In summary, if one more person cites soaring health care costs as an indictment of the free market, when it is in fact a staggering achievement of the free market, I'm going to rupture their appendix and send them to a queue in the UK to get it fixed.

Myth #2 The Canadian Drug Story

The general story is how you can buy many drugs in Canada cheaper than you can buy them in the US. This story is often, without specifically tying the logic together, taken as an obvious indictment of the US's (relatively) free market system. This is grossly misguided.

Here's what happens. We have a (relatively) free market in the US where drug companies spend a ton to develop new wonder drugs, a non-trivial amount of which is spent to satisfy regulatory requirements. The cost of this development is called a "fixed cost." Once it's developed it does not cost that much to make each pill. That's called a "variable cost." If people only paid the variable cost (or a bit more) for each pill the whole thing would not work. You see, the company would never get back the massive fixed cost of creating the drug in the first place, and so no company would try to develop one.

Drug companies that spent the enormous fixed costs to create new miracles are charging a relatively high cost in the free and still largely competitive world (the US) to recoup their fixed cost and to make a profit. But socialist societies like Canada limit the price they are allowed to charge. The US-based company is then faced with a dilemma. What Canada will pay is not enough to ever have justified creating the miracle pill. But, once created, perhaps Canada is paying more than the variable cost of each pill. Thus, the company can make some money by also selling to Canada at a lower price as it's still more than it costs them to make that last pill.

If we all tried to be Canada it's a non-working perpetual motion machine and no miracle pills ever get made because there will be nobody to pay the fixed costs.

Myth #3 Socialized Medicine Works In Some Places

This is a corollary to the "Canada as parasite" parable above. The funny part is socialized medicine has never been truly tested. Those touting socialism's success have never seen a world without a relatively (for now) free US to make their new drugs, surgical techniques, and other medical advancements for them.

To put it simply, right now the US's free system massively intellectually subsidizes the world's unfree (socialized) ones. That sucks. The only thing that would suck worse is joining them without anyone to subsidize us all.

Myth #4 A Public Option Can Co-Exist with a Private Option

Part of the current junta's plan is to add a "public option" for health insurance. That is health insurance provided by the government (actually provided by you and your neighbors). They claim this "public option" can co-exist fairly alongside private health insurance, increasing competition and keeping the private system "honest," and not deteriorate to a single payer (socialized medicine) system. They are wrong, or very dishonest, as in unguarded moments they admit that the single payer socialized system is what they really want.

By their logic the government must be a major player in every industry. Ah, just when you think you have them, you remember, they are socialists … dismantling liberty piece by piece.

The government does not co-exist or compete fairly with private enterprise. It does not play well with others. The regulator cannot be a competitor at the same time. Finally, it cannot be a fair competitor if when the "public option" screws up (can't pay its bills), the government implicitly or explicitly guarantees its debts.

Perhaps the best example of the destructive "public option" is our nation's schools. Here we clearly have a government provided "public option" competing with (and in fact dominating in size) private schooling. But, is it fair? Does it work well? Not by a long-shot.

With a "public option" things inevitably would go the horrific way of our public schools. It will be like looking in a funhouse mirror and seeing a doctor where you used to see a teacher.

Finally, let's worry a bit about the end game. We are not here yet, but in a world where the "public option" replaced all private options, would we still be allowed, if we had the resources, to pursue private medical alternatives? Some socialized countries say yes, some say no. Imagine the answer is no in this country, where freedom is valued more than anywhere else in the world. Imagine a person is to be prevented from spending their hard earned money on their or their children's health care, or a doctor was prevented from earning what he could in a parallel free system after all his training and work.

It takes literally seconds to realize that this "public option" cannot co-exist with liberty and thus will indeed lead to full-on socialization. Since the simplest answer is usually best, and the President has already declared his preference for a "single-payer" system, and since this "public option" leads there with near certainty, might I be forgiven for assuming he knows this and is lying, and has a socialized medicine end-game in mind?

Myth #5 We Can Have Health Care Without Rationing

Rationing has to occur. This sounds cold and cruel, but it is reality. If you have a material good or service, like health care, that is ever increasing in quality, and therefore cost, there is no way everyone on Earth can have the best at all times (actually the quality increases are not necessary for rationing to be needed, it just makes the example clearer). It's going to be rationed by some means. The alternatives come down to the marketplace or the government. To choose between those alternatives you judge on morality and efficacy.

It is an uncomfortable truth that tough choices will have to be made. There is no system that provides for unlimited wants with limited resources. Our choice is whether it should be rationed by free people making their own economic calculations or by a bureaucracy run by Congressional committee (whose members, like the Russian commissars, will, I guarantee you, still get the best health care the gulag hospitaligo can provide). Free people making their own choices only consume what they value above price, using funds they have earned or been given voluntarily. With socialized medicine health care is rationed by committees of politicians trying to get re-elected and increase their own power, and people consume as much of it as the commissars deem permissible. I do not find these tough alternatives to choose between.

Myth #6 Health Care is A Right

Nope, it's not.

This is more philosophy than economics, and I'm not a philosopher. But, luckily it doesn't take a superb philosopher to understand that health care simply is not a "right" in the sense we normally use that word. Listing rights generally involves enumerating things you may do without interference (the right to free speech) or may not be done to you without your permission (illegal search and seizure, loud boy-band music in public spaces). They are protections, not gifts of material goods. Material goods and services must be taken from others, or provided by their labor, so if you believe you have an absolute right to them, and others don't choose to provide it to you, you then have a "right" to steal from them. But what about their far more fundamental right not to be robbed?
So why do people scream health care is a "right" if it so obviously is not? If not a right it can still be willingly provided as charity by society.

So, Why Are These Crazy Things Believed (Or, Pretended to Be Believed)?

Lots of politicians understand that the simple free system leaves them out in the cold. No power for them. No committees to sit on to decide people's lives. No lies to tell their constituents how they (the government) brought them the health care they so desperately need. No fat checks from lobbyists as the crony capitalists pay dearly to make the only profits possible under this system, those bestowed by the government.

Finally, if the above is not enough, the rush to pass a huge expansion of government now, and limit debate and discussion, is indicative of a group that knows it is wrong, and if people have time to think they will refuse to go along, but is attempting an exercise of naked power, to impose dictatorship before the people wake up. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth puts on its shoes. They are counting on this, and they don't want to give the truth time to be shod.

And In Conclusion

We do not need a single payer (socialized medicine) system to cut confusion and inefficiency. On the contrary we need unfettered competition and clear legal standards. Another major concern is provision of basic healthcare to the needy. This is an important issue, but not an expensive one in the scheme of things, and not one that should drive the trillion-dollar healthcare debate. You do not reorganize the entire housing industry and tax policy around the need for homeless shelters, you just build enough shelters and let the market take care of, and discipline, the people who can pay for their own housing.
Finally there is the concern that healthcare costs make US workers too expensive to compete in global markets. As long as workers get full value for their healthcare dollars, it shouldn't matter whether companies pay in cash or in health benefits.
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« Reply #286 on: July 19, 2009, 11:46:00 AM »

Reformers' Claims Just Don't Add Up
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Health Reform: Many extravagant claims have been made on behalf of the various health care "reforms" now emerging from Congress and the White House. But on closer inspection, virtually all prove to be false.

Yet even as many Americans start to have second thoughts about our government's possible takeover of the health care system, Congress is rushing to make it happen.

On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that would radically change our current system and expand coverage for the uninsured. The action came a day after the head of the Congressional Budget Office said none of the plans under review would slow health care spending. None of them.

Still, lawmakers and the White House press on, relying on GOP weakness in the House and a new veto-proof majority in the Senate. They're also relying on a lack of awareness that claims made on behalf of national health care may be mostly false. Among them:

• America has a health care crisis.

No, we don't. Forty-seven million people lack insurance. Of the remaining 85% of the population, or 258 million people, polls show high satisfaction with the current coverage. Indeed, a 2006 poll by ABC News, the Kaiser Family Foundation and USA Today found 89% of Americans were happy with their own health care.

As for the estimated 47 million not covered by health insurance, 20 million can afford to buy it, according to a study by former CBO Director June O'Neill. Most of the other 27 million are single and under 35, with as many as a third illegal aliens.

When it's all whittled down, as few as 12 million are unable to buy insurance — less than 4% of a population of 305 million. For this we need to nationalize 17% of our nation's $14 trillion economy and change the current care that 89% like?

• Health care reform will save money.

Few of the plans now coming out of Congress will save anything, says the CBO's current chief, Douglas Elmendorf. In fact, he says, they'll lead to substantially higher costs in the future — costs that will be "unsustainable."

As it is, estimates for reforming health care range from $1 trillion to $3.6 trillion. Much will be spent on subsidies to make a so-called public option more attractive to consumers than private plans.

To pay for it, the president has suggested about $600 billion in new taxes, meaning that $500 billion to $2.1 trillion in new health care spending over the next decade will be unfunded. This could push up the nation's already soaring deficit, expected to reach $10 trillion through 2019 without health care reform. Massive new tax hikes will probably be needed to close the gap.

• Only the rich will pay for reform.

The 5.4% surtax on millionaires the president is pushing gets all the attention, but everyone down to $280,000 in income will pay more. Doesn't that still leave out the middle class and poor? Sorry. Workers who decline to take part will pay a tax of up to 2% of earnings. And small-businesses must pony up 8% of their payrolls.

The poor and middle class must pay in other ways, without knowing it. The biggest hit will be on small businesses, which, due to new payroll taxes, will be less likely to hire workers. Today's 9.5% jobless rate may become a permanent feature of our economy — just as it is in Europe, where nationalized health care is common.

• Government-run health care produces better results.

The biggest potential lie of all. America has the best health care in the world, and most Americans know it. Yet we hear that many "go without care" while in nationalized systems it is "guaranteed."

U.S. life expectancy in 2006 was 78.1 years, ranking behind 30 other countries. So if our health care is so good, why don't we live as long as everyone else?

Three reasons. One, our homicide rate is two to three times higher than other countries. Two, because we drive so much, we have a higher fatality rate on our roads — 14.24 fatalities per 100,000 people vs. 6.19 in Germany, 7.4 in France and 9.25 in Canada. Three, Americans eat far more than those in other nations, contributing to higher levels of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

These are diseases of wealth, not the fault of the health care system. A study by Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa found that if you subtract our higher death rates from accidents and homicide, Americans actually live longer than people in other countries.

In countries with nationalized care, medical outcomes are often catastrophically worse. Take breast cancer. According to the Heritage Foundation, breast cancer mortality in Germany is 52% higher than in the U.S.; the U.K.'s rate is 88% higher. For prostate cancer, mortality is 604% higher in the U.K. and 457% higher in Norway. Colorectal cancer? Forty percent higher in the U.K.
But what about the health care paradise to our north? Americans have almost uniformly better outcomes and lower mortality rates than Canada, where breast cancer mortality is 9% higher, prostate cancer 184% higher and colon cancer 10% higher.

Then there are the waiting lists. With a population just under that of California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the list is 1.8 million deep.

Universal health care, wrote Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute in her excellent book, "Top Ten Myths Of American Health Care," will inevitably result in "higher taxes, forced premium payments, one-size-fits-all policies, long waiting lists, rationed care and limited access to cutting-edge medicine."

Before you sign up, you might want to check with people in countries that have the kind of system the White House and Congress have in mind. Recent polls show that more than 70% of Germans, Australians, Britons, Canadians and New Zealanders think their systems need "complete rebuilding" or "fundamental change."

• The poor lack care.

Many may lack insurance, but that doesn't mean they lack care. The law says anyone who walks into a hospital emergency room must be treated. America has 37 million people in poverty, but Medicaid covers 55 million — at a cost of $350 billion a year.

Moreover, as many as 11 million of the uninsured qualify for programs for the indigent, including Medicaid and SCHIP. But for some reason, they don't sign up. Are they likely to sign up for the "public option" when it's made available?

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332723342557746
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #287 on: July 20, 2009, 01:02:38 PM »

July 20, 2009
Welcome to Mexico, Gringos!

By James Lewis
I once had a minor medical procedure done in Mexico. The doc wanted to be paid in cash, and I obliged. Then I asked for a receipt. What followed was Keystone Cops. It took a while for me to realize I was being stupid. By asking for a receipt in the double economy of Mexico I was asking the doc to sign a confession to the tax police. He was right, I was wrong, and I learned something about the underground economy in socialized medicine.

Welcome to Mexico, friends, where the people are warm and wonderful, the drug gangs ruthless (but mostly gun for each other), and the medical profession is a sign of things to come in the US of A. Rich people get pretty good medical care in Mexico. Poor people? So-so to dreadful. Same thing in Italy, and most of the Left-dominated world. Want to get pretty good medical care in Russia? How many dollars you got?

The trouble with socialized medicine is that it corrupts the doctors. They start living a double life. So do the patients. And irony of ironies, it doesn't hurt the rich one little bit.

If ObamaCare is given the bum's rush through Congress in the next couple of weeks, first thing I'm going to do is check out medical travel.  Hong Kong has first-rate hospitals, inspected and rated by the British Health Authority. Israel has more qualified doctors per square inch than New York City. Taiwan, Singapore, the big cities in India, Thailand, the Philippines. Eastern Europe is heading that way. If they provide excellent care at lower cost than the US, it can only grow. Nobody in Congress has repealed the laws of supply and demand.

Want to build a great new business? Go into the medical travel game. Guarantee your clients only the best and most highly accredited doctors and hospitals in the world. Sell them medical and travel insurance. And tie it in with sunny retirement communities for Boomers. It will be a Gold Rush. 

Insurance companies can undersell any US government monopoly, just by sending their patients to high-quality hospitals abroad. The United States may lose General Motors, but we'll get International Blue Cross instead. And do you have any idea how much you can do diagnostically these days over the web? Your highly qualified offshore doc can just send you the testing kit, you send it back, and have long, cozy conversations over the free VoIP service. In five years we'll have EKGs plugged into your home computer to be read by Indian doctors in Hyderabad. Virtual microsurgery is in the cards. Computing is going to keep getting cheaper, the web will get faster and more interactive, and you'll be able to do some virtual medical travel without moving from home. Indian psychiatrists are so comforting, and they will talk with you for hours for $9.95, special rate just for you.

Obama and the Democrats will try to stop you -- but they will take advantage of medical travel themselves, of course.  The Left will raise your US taxes whether you use ObamaCare or not -- and no, the tax increases won't be limited to the upper five percent. Everybody will pay more, either in money or rationing of health care.

It will be a huge incentive for older Americans to retire abroad, and that could be a gigantic favor for developing countries. You can love this country from afar, and hope that when things get bad enough, some of the voters will wake up.  It could take a while if LeftiMed gets passed next week at some midnight session between Nancy and Harry Reid.

So when every American doctor's income is capped by price controls, when the paperwork is coming out of their ears, when their workload is up and their income is down --- just let them know you'll pay cash.

And don't ask for a receipt.

Hasta la vista, baby.

I'm off to Costa Rica!

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/07/welcome_to_mexico_gringos.html at July 20, 2009 - 01:53:49 PM EDT
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ccp
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« Reply #288 on: July 21, 2009, 04:15:51 PM »

The implication is that this is some sort of scandal.
600 million doses at a cost of 2.6 billion.  Isn't that cheap - ~$4 a dose.
What does it cost to drive the tunnel from NJ to NYC - 10 dollars for the port authority tax?  Ten dollars to drive into NYC???!!!
What is the tax on a single pack of cigarettes?
So why are the pharmaceutical companies not entitled to ~4 bucks for a squirt of influenza vaccine?


****Drug groups to reap swine-flu billions
By Andrew Jack in London

Published: July 20 2009 19:40 | Last updated: July 20 2009 23:43

Some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies are reaping billions of dollars in extra revenue amid global concern about the spread of swine flu.

Analysts expect to see a boost in sales from GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Sanofi-Aventis when the companies report first-half earnings lifted by government contracts for flu vaccines and antiviral medicines.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
In depth: Swine flu - Apr-28Health Blog: The advice about swine flu - Jul-21Date put on school swine flu decision - Jul-20WHO backlog hampers swine flu battle - Jul-21Swine flu warning to pregnant women - Jul-19UK braces for 100,000 swine flu cases a day - Jul-03The fresh sales – on top of strong results from Novartis of Switzerland and Baxter of the US, which both also produce vaccines – come as the latest tallies show that more than 740 people have died from the H1N1 virus, and millions have been affected around the world.

GlaxoSmithKline of the UK confirmed it had sold 150m doses of a pandemic flu vaccine – equivalent to its normal sales of seasonal flu vaccine – to countries including the UK, the US, France and Belgium, and was gearing up to boost production.

GSK also produces Relenza, an antiviral medicine that reduces the length and severity of the infection, and is preparing to increase manufacturing towards 60m annual doses. The UK placed an order for 10m treatments this year.

One beneficiary of the fears about the pandemic has been Roche of Switzerland, which sells Tamiflu, the leading antiviral drug, and has seen a sharp rise in orders from private companies as well as governments.

A report last week from JPMorgan, the investment bank, estimated that governments had ordered nearly 600m doses of pandemic vaccine and adjuvant – a chemical that boosts its efficacy – worth $4.3bn (€3bn, £2.6bn) in sales, and there was potential for 342m more doses worth $2.6bn.

It forecast that fresh antiviral sales could boost sales for GSK and Roche by another $1.8bn in the developed world, and potentially up to $1.2bn from the developing world.

But there were also uncertainties for the pharmaceutical manufacturers. With demand likely to outstrip supply, and initial production suggesting that the yield for the pandemic vaccine is relatively low, they may face difficult choices in determining how much to supply to the countries seeking orders.

They are also under pressure to provide more drugs and vaccines for free, or extremely cheaply, to the developing world.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #289 on: July 22, 2009, 08:11:41 AM »

Arrogance. Its crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15% of US economy [John Stossel]
Townhall | July 22, 2009 | John Stossel


It's crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. It's even crazier to do it by August.

Yet that is what some members of Congress presume to do. They intend, as the New York Times puts it, "to reinvent the nation's health care system".

Let that sink in. A handful of people who probably never even ran a small business actually think they can reinvent the health care system.

Politicians and bureaucrats clearly have no idea how complicated markets are. Every day people make countless tradeoffs, in all areas of life, based on subjective value judgments and personal information as they delicately balance their interests, needs and wants. Who is in a better position than they to tailor those choices to best serve their purposes? Yet the politicians believe they can plan the medical market the way you plan a birthday party.

Leave aside how much power the state would have to exercise over us to run the medical system. Suffice it say that if government attempts to control our total medical spending, sooner or later, it will have to control us.

Also leave aside the inevitable huge cost of any such program. The administration estimates $1.5 trillion over 10 years with no increase in the deficit. But no one should take that seriously. When it comes to projecting future costs, these guys may as well be reading chicken entrails. In 1965, hospitalization coverage under Medicare was projected to cost $9 billion by 1990. The actual price tag was $66 billion.

The sober Congressional Budget Office debunked the reformers' cost projections. Trust us, Obama says. "At the end of the day, we'll have significant cost controls," presidential adviser David Axelrod said. Give me a break.

Now focus on the spectacle of that handful of men and women daring to think they can design the medical marketplace. They would empower an even smaller group to determine -- for millions of diverse Americans -- which medical treatments are worthy and at what price.

How do these arrogant, presumptuous politicians believe they can know enough to plan for the rest of us? Who do they think they are? Under cover of helping uninsured people get medical care, they live out their megalomaniacal social-engineering fantasies -- putting our physical and economic health at risk in the process.

Will the American people say "Enough!"?

I fear not, based on the comments on my blog. When I argued last week that medical insurance makes people indifferent to costs, I got comments like: "I guess the 47 million people who don't have health care should just die, right, John?" "You will always be a shill for corporate America."

Like the politicians, most people are oblivious to F.A. Hayek's insight that the critical information needed to run an economy -- or even 15 percent of one -- doesn't exist in any one place where it is accessible to central planners. Instead, it is scattered piecemeal among millions of people. All those people put together are far wiser and better informed than Congress could ever be. Only markets -- private property, free exchange and the price system -- can put this knowledge at the disposal of entrepreneurs and consumers, ensuring the system will serve the people and not just the political class.

This is no less true for medical care than for food, clothing and shelter. It is profit-seeking entrepreneurship that gave us birth control pills, robot limbs, Lasik surgery and so many other good things that make our lives longer and more pain free.

To the extent the politicians ignore this, they are the enemy of our well-being. The belief that they can take care of us is rank superstition.

Who will save us from these despots? What Adam Smith said about the economic planner applies here, too: The politician who tries to design the medical marketplace would "assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it."

http://townhall.com/columnists/JohnStossel/2009/07/22/arrogance?page=full&comments=true
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #290 on: July 22, 2009, 08:27:53 AM »

2nd Post.

July 22, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

Doctor’s Orders
Sen. (and Dr.) John Barrasso makes the case for market-based health-care reform.

By Michael Warren

One of the most important opponents of Barack Obama’s health-care agenda may be a relatively unknown senator from America’s least populous state. Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming, who entered the Senate only two years ago, had little name recognition outside his home state until a few weeks ago. Yet he is emerging as a GOP expert on a hot-button issue. Barrasso brings a special perspective to the health-care debate: He is one of only two MDs in the Senate, the other being his Republican colleague Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

You’ll find Dr. Barrasso on page 87 of The 50 Most Positive Doctors in America, a 1996 book profiling physicians across the country. An orthopedic surgeon from Casper, he has been called “Wyoming’s doctor,” a reference to his prominence on local radio and television as a medical expert. He has served as president of the Wyoming Medical Society and was once named Wyoming Physician of the Year. In his 25 years of practicing medicine in the Cowboy State, Barrasso has treated everyone from rodeo riders to senior citizens in Wyoming’s most remote rural areas. Even as he pursues his new career in public service, Barrasso remains a practicing surgeon, just as Coburn remains a practicing obstetrician. “I’m still licensed, I still get the medical journals, and I was in an operating room on Thursday with my old partners in a trauma case and a knee replacement,” Barrasso tells me in his Washington office. Like Coburn, Barrasso speaks knowledgeably and confidently about the details of health-care reform, making a strong case against expanding government management of the system.

So how did a rodeo doctor end up in the U.S. Senate? Barrasso had served nearly five years in the Wyoming state senate when the governor appointed him to fill the seat of GOP senator Craig Thomas, who died in June 2007. Barrasso promised to run for the seat in a special election in 2008, which he won by a large margin. One of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate, Barrasso says his values come from his parents. “I was raised in a solid American family that had great respect for our country, great respect for freedom, for the military, and for the free-market system.”

His family also instilled in him a love of politics and political institutions. “When I was eight, my dad took me to John Kennedy’s inauguration,” Barrasso says. “It has been a family tradition for us. We were at Kennedy’s, Johnson’s, all the way through. Our respect for the country and love of the country was such that our family came to every inauguration, no matter which party won.” As a high-school student, Barrasso came back to the capital on his own when he attended the Presidential Classroom for Young Americans program. He later graduated from Georgetown Medical School.

Despite all this Washington exposure — or perhaps because of it — Barrasso still flies home to Casper every weekend. “I still live in Wyoming and just work in Washington,” he says. “That’s the best way to stay connected.” This may be standard rhetoric from a politician, but the cowboy boots beneath his trouser legs suggest that his sentiments are genuine.

At the same time, Barrasso is willing and able to play the Washington media game. As the health-care debate has revved up, he has graduated from local to national television, appearing on Fox News and MSNBC. During a recent appearance on Ed Schultz’s show, Barrasso outlined the potential costs of a single-payer system while the liberal host struggled to get a word in. The Republican party would be smart to get Barrasso on TV more often; he sounds as trustworthy as your own doctor when he explains why government does not belong in the health-care industry. “If you have the government taking over the whole thing, it’s going to lead to increased costs and increased taxes and the rationing of care,” he says. “It’s denying care.”

Barrasso agrees that the high cost of American health care is a problem that requires fixing, but he stresses that individuals must maintain the freedom to make medical decisions in consultation with their doctors. “I think most people are very smart when it comes to their own money,” he says. “When they make decisions about their own spending, they make smart decisions. With health care, for the most part, people aren’t spending their own money. Even if they are paying for their insurance, they’re not spending their own money on the health care.”

To underscore the point, he relates a story about eight patients he once saw on New Year’s Eve. All the patients had met their deductible for the year and wanted to have operations that they would not have to pay for out of pocket. “They were very smart consumers using their own dollars with no necessary focus on the insurance company’s dollars,” he says.


The Wyoming senator is a voracious reader. He recently finished The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes’s book on the Great Depression, and is currently ripping through Paul Johnson’s monster A History of the American People. A self-professed “big fan” of William F. Buckley Jr., Barrasso says he has been reading National Review since the 1960s. In the course of our conversation about health care he cited no fewer than five recent NR articles.

When Barrasso looks at the current American health-care scene, his diagnosis is that Medicare is on course to break the whole system. “Medicare has never focused on trying to keep people healthy,” he explains. “It focuses on paying doctors and hospitals to do things to people.” He believes this neglect of prevention is Medicare’s biggest flaw, and he considers it a preview of what could happen to the entire health-care system if the Democrats get their way. “If a government single-payer system is anything like Medicare, there is going to be significant waste, fraud, and abuse — as well as a lack of coordinated care, and a lack of prevention,” he warns. However, he scoffs at the attempts by some liberals to insert “community” prevention provisions into a government plan. These programs, he says, aren’t about health; they are just ways of spreading a little pork around. “They’re gonna build sidewalks, jungle gyms, and street lights,” he says. “It’s like midnight basketball with Clinton.”

Barrasso isn’t interested in “smarter” government intervention; he wants to keep government out of the way of patients and doctors. “I think you want to tie a person’s own personal health to incentives to work toward a healthy lifestyle,” he says. He points to the company health-care plan used by grocery giant Safeway. “They individualize the incentives so if you get your weight down and your blood pressure under control, and your cholesterol and blood sugar, if you don’t use tobacco products, they know that will help save the company money, and they share that with you. So it’s money in your pocket to stay healthy. And the company saves money too.”

Barrasso stresses the importance of education. For years he has participated in Wyoming health fairs that seek to educate state residents about their own health by providing inexpensive blood tests and information on treatments. “We get lots of letters,” he says, “from folks that say, ‘If it weren’t for the health fair, we would have never detected this problem early.’”

John Barrasso thinks the key to reform is more information, not more government management. “It’s about getting people information they can use to stay healthy and keep down the costs of their care,” he says. As the health-care debate moves into a critical stage, look for Barrasso to play a prominent role in crafting and explaining the Republican message. His expertise is just what the doctor ordered.

— Michael Warren, a Collegiate Network intern at National Review, studies economics and history at Vanderbilt University.
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ODFiZTFjOTczZDlhZWQ0NDBjOGYyMjhlMjgyNTA2NzI=
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #291 on: July 22, 2009, 12:04:17 PM »

3rd post.

The only way this statement can prove true is if services are provided without any compensation:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2009/07/22/pelosi_health_care_reform_has_cap_on_costs_no_cap_on_benefits.html
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Boyo
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« Reply #292 on: July 22, 2009, 03:28:01 PM »

Hey Igot this fromdefendyourhealthcare.us

O'S BROKEN PROMISES
HEALTH BILLS V. PREZ'S WORDS
By BETSY MCCAUGHEY
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->
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July 17, 2009 - President Obama promises that "if you like your health plan, you can keep it," even after he reforms our health-care system. That's untrue. The bills now before Congress would force you to switch to a managed-care plan with limits on your access to specialists and tests.

Two main bills are being rushed through Congress with the goal of combining them into a finished product by August. Under either, a new government bureaucracy will select health plans that it considers in your best interest, and you will have to enroll in one of these "qualified plans." If you now get your plan through work, your employer has a five-year "grace period" to switch you into a qualified plan. If you buy your own insurance, you'll have less time.

And as soon as anything changes in your contract -- such as a change in copays or deductibles, which many insurers change every year -- you'll have to move into a qualified plan instead (House bill, p. 16-17).

When you file your taxes, if you can't prove to the IRS that you are in a qualified plan, you'll be fined thousands of dollars -- as much as the average cost of a health plan for your family size -- and then automatically enrolled in a randomly selected plan (House bill, p. 167-168).

It's one thing to require that people getting government assistance tolerate managed care, but the legislation limits you to a managed-care plan even if you and your employer are footing the bill (Senate bill, p. 57-58). The goal is to reduce everyone's consumption of health care and to ensure that people have the same health-care experience, regardless of ability to pay.

Nowhere does the legislation say how much health plans will cost, but a family of four is eligible for some government assistance until their household income reaches $88,000 (House bill, p. 137). If you earn more than that, you'll have to pay the cost no matter how high it goes.

The price tag for this legislation is a whopping $1.04 trillion to $1.6 trillion (Congressional Budget Office estimates). Half of the tab comes from tax increases on individuals earning $280,000 or more, and these new taxes will double in 2012 unless savings exceed predicted costs (House bill, p. 199). The rest of the cost is paid for by cutting seniors' health benefits under Medicare.

There's plenty of waste in Medicare, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates only 1 percent of the savings under the legislation will be from curbing waste, fraud and abuse. That means the rest will likely come from reducing what patients get.

One troubling provision of the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care (House bill, p. 425-430). The sessions cover highly sensitive matters such as whether to receive antibiotics and "the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration."

This mandate invites abuse, and seniors could easily be pushed to refuse care. Do we really want government involved in such deeply personal issues?

Shockingly, only a portion of the money accumulated from slashing senior benefits and raising taxes goes to pay for covering the uninsured. The Senate bill allocates huge sums to "community transformation grants," home visits for expectant families, services for migrant workers -- and the creation of dozens of new government councils, programs and advisory boards slipped into the last 500 pages.

The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll (June 21) finds that 83 percent of Americans are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their health care, and 81 percent are similarly satisfied with their health insurance.

They have good reason to be. If you're diagnosed with cancer, you have a better chance of surviving it in the United States than anywhere else, according to the Concord Five Continent Study. And the World Health Organization ranked the United States No. 1 out of 191 countries for being responsive to patients' needs, including providing timely treatments and a choice of doctors.

Congress should pursue less radical ways to cover the uninsured. We have too much to lose with this legislation.

Betsy McCaughey is founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former lieutenant governor of New York. 

 

Check it out

Boyo
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #293 on: July 23, 2009, 10:09:32 AM »

This sales job reminds me of a Tom Wait's tune I've posted at the end of this editorial.

Snake Oil
By the Editors

President Obama’s press conference Wednesday night offered an ideal encapsulation of the Democrats’ case for their health-care-reform proposals: outlandish promises about benefits and patently dishonest denials of the costs. He said essentially all of the uninsured would be covered, the insured could keep their existing coverage and would be guaranteed to keep it if they lost or changed jobs, the quality of care would rise, waste and fraud would be slashed, the deficit would decline, and no one would have to pay a price for all this except a few millionaires. Oh, and by the way, the plan would also “keep government out of health-care decisions.”
If the president can persuade the American public of all that, then maybe we don’t even need medical care — we can just have him tell us all we’re perfectly healthy and we’ll go on our way.

But in the end, the president does not in fact seem capable of persuading the public that he and congressional Democrats have found the magic cure-all for our health-care ills. Increasingly, the American people aren’t buying what Obama is selling. Support for his approach to health care has begun to fall below 50 percent in recent polls, as worries about cost, harming the quality and availability of health care, displacing millions who are satisfied with their insurance, increasing the tax burden on employers in the midst of a recession, and creating an enormous new entitlement are adding up.

These worries are justified. The cost of the health-care bills now coming out of the key congressional committees is staggering, and the Congressional Budget Office has said these bills will not reduce health-care-cost inflation in the long run, so that even the trillion-dollar ten-year cost estimates do not begin to describe the full burdens taxpayers will assume. The notion, again repeated by the president, that anyone who is happy with his health insurance now will be able to keep it is patently at odds with every study and analysis of the Democrats’ proposals, all of which foresee many millions displaced. And even the president himself seems no longer to believe that only the rich will pay a price: His language Wednesday night was carefully calibrated. He said reform should not be “completely shouldered on the backs of middle-class families,” or “primarily funded through taxing middle-class families.”

But the greatest weakness of the Democrats’ plans, and the most important concern regarding their implementation, has to do with the rationing of care and the centralization of treatment decisions. While President Obama claimed, preposterously, that the proposals he supports would limit the government’s role, he also made clear that decisions about the availability of care — especially for the elderly at first, but for all in the long run — would be made by a panel of experts in Washington, setting one-size-fits-all rules that would govern doctors’ decisions. This was held up as a model of efficiency, but it is a recipe for disaster, as the public seems increasingly to understand.

The next few weeks are clearly crucial to the fate of these misbegotten plans. Obamacare is in trouble, but it is by no means down for the count. The Democrats control both houses of Congress quite comfortably and are keen to avoid embarrassing their new president or appearing feckless and divided. They are trying to rush a bill through in the hope that no one pays too much attention to the details and that they can claim victory before the smoke has cleared.

But the politics of health care has clearly changed for the better in the past month. Passage of an Obama-style plan is now by no means inevitable, and the more time passes the greater the obstacles to passage appear. Republicans should make it clear that they do not intend to abet the approach the Democrats are contemplating, and that better options are available which would harness consumer choice to control costs and therefore to broaden access to health insurance.

President Obama and the Democrats have given Washington Republicans the perfect opportunity to illustrate for the public what it means to stand for fiscal responsibility, economic growth, individual liberty, and free markets, and how that combination can also point the way to creative and constructive policy solutions. The public is growing wary of the Democrats’ approach and eager to be shown a better way. Republicans should oblige: Stop Obamacare, and make the case for conservative health-care reform.

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGMwNmRmNmFlMTNiNjVlYjc0MTRjYTM0YTNjYTM0ZGI=


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #294 on: July 23, 2009, 05:12:35 PM »

Question 1: What is done and what should be done about people with pre-existing conditions looking for health care?

Question 2:  Is/should an insurance company be allowed to discontinue someone who develops a problem?
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #295 on: July 23, 2009, 06:29:02 PM »

Here's Cato's answer to your questions, Marc, or at least a synopsis thereof. Full .pdf file at the link:

Health-Status Insurance: How Markets Can Provide Health Security

by John H. Cochrane

John H. Cochrane is the Myron S. Scholes Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.


None of us has health insurance, really. If you develop a long-term condition such as heart disease or cancer, and if you then lose your job or are divorced, you can lose your health insurance. You now have a preexisting condition, and insurance will be enormously expensive—if it's available at all.

Free markets can solve this problem, and provide life-long, portable health security, while enhancing consumer choice and competition. "Health-status insurance" is the key. If you are diagnosed with a long-term, expensive condition, a health-status insurance policy will give you the resources to pay higher medical insurance premiums. Health-status insurance covers the risk of premium reclassification, just as medical insurance covers the risk of medical expenses.

With health-status insurance, you can always obtain medical insurance, no matter how sick you get, with no change in out-of-pocket costs. With health-status insurance, medical insurers would be allowed to charge sick people more than healthy people, and to compete intensely for all customers. People would have complete freedom to change jobs, move, or change medical insurers. Rigorous competition would allow us to obtain better medical care at lower cost.

Most regulations and policy proposals aimed at improving long-term insurance—including those advanced in Barack Obama's presidential campaign— limit competition and consumer choice by banning risk-based premiums, forcing insurers to take all comers, strengthening employer-based or other forced pooling mechanisms, or introducing national health insurance.

The individual health insurance market is already moving in the direction of health-status insurance. To let health-status insurance emerge fully, we must remove the legal and regulatory pressure to provide employer-based group insurance over individual insurance and remove regulations limiting risk-based pricing and competition among health insurers.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-633.pdf
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #296 on: July 24, 2009, 02:27:18 AM »

Interesting.

Is there any "health status insurance" currently available?
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #297 on: July 24, 2009, 08:38:31 PM »

House healthcare talks break down in anger
By Jared Allen, Mike Soraghan and Lauren Burke
Posted: 07/24/09 03:27 PM [ET]

House healthcare negotiations dissolved in acrimony on Friday, with Blue Dog Democrats saying they were “lied” to by their Democratic leaders.

In advance of a subsequent press conference called by House leadership, Blue Dog liaison Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) said the healthcare bill should be staying in committee.

"I expect the committee process to proceed," Cardoza said.

The seven Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee stormed out of a Friday meeting with their committee chairman, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), saying Waxman had been negotiating in bad faith over a number of provisions Blue Dogs demanded be changed in the stalled healthcare bill.

“I’ve been lied to,” Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chairman Charlie Melancon (D-La.) said on Friday. “We have not had legitimate negotiations.

“Mr. Waxman has decided to sever discussions with the Blue Dogs who are trying to make this bill work for America,” Melancon said.

Although those Blue Dogs were supposed to be headed back into another meeting of the Energy and Commerce Democrats, their anger was visible.

If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the only hope for passage of the bill in the House will be to go straight to the floor, an option leaders shied away from endorsing but said was an option.

But the Blue Dogs issued dire warnings to leaders contemplating that approach.

"Waxman simply does not have votes in committee and process should not be bypassed to bring the bill straight to floor,” Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), the lead Blue Dog negotiator, said on Friday. “We are trying to save this bill and trying to save this party.”

Melancon said there would be 40-45 “solid no” votes from the 52-strong Blue Dogs, among other problems throughout the caucus. And Melancon said there are more Democrats who will vote against the bill.

“If they try to bring it to the floor, I think they’ll find out they have more problems than the Blue Dogs.”

A leadership aide said no decisions have been made on how to proceed.
This story was updated at 4:20 p.m.

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/house-healthcare-talks-break-down-in-anger-2009-07-24.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #298 on: July 25, 2009, 02:02:18 AM »

As best as I can tell IMHO the Blue Dogs and the Reps are playing what was once said of Republican Sen. Bob Dole-- "tax collector for the welfare state".

In this case, they are trying to eliminate the worst stupidities but the cost is that they too become tied to this process-- AND they "improve" it for His Glibness.  The acede to the continuing trend to statism.

I would much rather they take up the ideological battle for free market orientation. 
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ccp
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« Reply #299 on: July 25, 2009, 09:37:22 AM »

Just for argument sakes.

Chuck Schumer made a statement that doctors should make no more than 80K a year.
Sure that is of course because we should be all about caring for our fellow men.
If that is his argument lawyers who require far less schooling should make no more than 40K per year.
Everyone knows they should be *in* law profession to protect the legal rights of all.
Afterall they are there to uphold justice, and our "legal rights".

Additionally the media should stop corrupting our politicians who have to raise obscene amounts of money to pay for obscene costs of advertising.
The politicians who are in "public service" to better the lives of all Americans and our way of life should stop cashing in by writing or at least profiting from books, speeches, working as pundits, getting jobs at hedge funds, lobbyists the minute they leave office.

Working in pulbic office has now become a roadmap to "richdom".

Teachers, police officers, firemen, and other government employees should stop accepting pensions, and other benefits after they stop working since of course they are doing what they do to better and protect mankind.

Can I go on.

My message is clear.

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