Monday, July 20, 2009

The Political Health Care Battle

This is a very short entry.

First we do need and must have universal health care. It might not need to be in the form of traditional "insurance," but today's Emergency Room approach to health care for the poor and uninsured is unacceptable. Every person must have access to primary care that is affordable and crisis care that will not leave them in bankruptcy.

Second the current Democrat Plan being rushed through Congress at a breakneck speed is horribly bad. If you haven't actually dug into the nuts and bolts, you can't imagine just how bad it is. While Republicans are exaggerating the potential results in terms of human suffering, the bill is a disaster that will, in fact, destroy the American Health Care System as we have known it, forever.

I am deeply disappointed with President Obama.

I thought the mangled wreck of a stimulus plan could be laid entirely at Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's feet. President Obama took a hands off approach and the entire nation is paying the price. Obama was new at his job and Pelosi sold him down the river. At least that's what I thought.

But now President Obama is taking a virtually identical approach on Health Care and the result is terrifying. Even as the non-partisan but liberal leaning Congressional Budget Office tries valiantly to sound the alarm, President Obama absolutely refuses to listen. This Health Plan will not work and it will cost billions more than today's system. There is no money to pay for this program as designed. And cuts in Medicare and Medicaid alone will destroy health care for Seniors.

Yet the demand for quick passage mounts. Do not read the bill. Do not post the bill for taxpayers to read. Do not ever allow a single Republican is a single planning meeting. Do not allow amendments. Do not listen to taxpayers. Pass it now.

We need Universal Health Care. We need to manage costs and put the individual back in charge of his or her personal health. Insurance must be transportable and it must be universal.

I'm ready and willing to support a strong plan that will actually cover all Americans without dismantling the current system that works so amazingly well for the vast majority of Americans.

President Obama could have accomplished this. So far he has chosen not to.

Here are two different but informative views:


SHOOS BLOG: Health Care Costs



"I'm ready and willing to support a strong plan that will actually cover all Americans without dismantling the current system that works so amazingly well for the vast majority of Americans."
Wizard where you when the lights went out. Following up on today's current health care system that works so well today CNN found a wheelchair on the internet for $349 that was the exact replica of one that a company is charging Medicare $1149 for 1 years use. Yep that is really working well for those getting fat on the system but is killing the rest of us.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

Laser - Your example makes my point perfectly! The current House and Senate plans would create a gigantic government bureaucracy exactly identical to your Medicare example. Under the proposed health care plans $1,200.00 wheelchairs will become the norm. Your example proves precisely why a taxpayer subsidized federal government administrated plan will destroy both our economy and health care.

If the woman's Medicare were run by a private insurance company, the actual cost would have been under $300.00.

If your read the CNN story you would know that government regulations actually forbid competitive bidding!

We really need health care for 100% of Americans. It can be done and there are plans being proposed by Republicans and some Democrats. Sadly those voices aren't allowed at the table by Pelosi, Reid and, sadly, Obama, too.


Wrong Wiz, the current situation, not the one being planned, is what caused the issue in the story. And, in the fine print of the story you will find that the typical forte' of the republicans, no competitive bidding (hello Brown - Root), is what is creating these monstrous prices. Remember, Medicare and medicaid can't even bid for best prices on prescription medications thanks to the republican congress. I am not saying government is the answer but someone needs to keep the Enrons and A.I G.s of the health industry honest.

Lee said...

Laser, you are providing excellent arguments against government takeover and rationing of healthcare.

Excellent posting Wizard. I like that you provided linkage to other thoughts.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

Here is a "reprint" of comments on this very issue I made over at Mad Mikes several weeks ago. They are on target here.


Insurance companies must make a profit in order for the actual supply and demand equation to work. Since insurance companies must make a profit for their owners (i.e the stockholders), they negotiatiate and negotiate hard with the service providers (i.e. the doctors, labs and hospitals) for significantly lower rates.

If you walk into your neighborhood clinic UNINSURED you'll pay about $65.00 to 90.00 for an office visit. If you're over 65 Medicare will only pay the doctor about $45.00 and you'll cough up the balance.

If you have BC/BS of Alabama the doctor will only get a total of $35.00 for the same visit = $10.00 from the patient and $25.00 from BC/BS.

Why? BC/BS has terrific negotiating power. They offer the doctor a massive customer base and they guarantee the doctor will be paid promptly and fully.

This savings (after fair profit which is paid to shareholders like say, the Alabama Teacher's Union) is actually passed on to members as lower premiums.

BC/BS wants more members, not fewer. More members means even stronger negotiating power and the ability to attract even more customers. Profit is what makes it all work.

Now let's go back to Medicare. The government does a piss poor job of negotiating and often lacks even reasonable intelligence about the process. As a result they (we, the taxpayers) over pay huge sums for some proceedures and fail to pay at all for others.

Multi millions in gigantic profits are being made by companies who supply Diabetic testing supplies because Medicare (by stupid federal law) grossly overpays for these supplies. Ever wonder why you see Wilfred Brimley on television 24 hours a day advertising for Liberty Medical? That is your Federal Goverment at work lining the pockets of Diabetis testing supply companies.

Same way with catheders, you are now seeing those ads.

Meanwhile God help the elderly without good Medicare suppliment insurance. Medicare does not pay properly for some tests and many surgeries. It's a fraking disaster. I know, I have an 83 year old mother.

Curiously, Congress is actually trying to make Medicare Suppliment Insurance illegal BECAUSE these companies dare to negotiate with doctors for better deals for patients. Companies like Secure Horizons level the playing field for seniors (and they make a profit).

I'm not against Health Care Reform. And we may well end up with a so-called public option. The problem is that private insurance companies will not be able to compete because the public option will have massive taxpayer funding (subsidy) In other words, you and I will be paying to keep rates low for the insured. The government WILL NOT negotiate better - they never have in any program in the entire history of the United States. Taxpayers will simply be subsidizing $40.00 tylenol tablets.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

Laser, One more critical point: The opponets to Competitive bidding quoted by CNN were DEMOCRATS. And Dems have been in control of Congress for several years now, but.............

Republican's only sought to keep "government price controls" out of Medicare Part D, where they leave it to the insurance companies to competitive bid and the insurance companies do one hell of a good job!!

In Part "D" Congress did everything 100% right. They allocated the money and set strict and exact limits on the amount the goverment would pay. Then they backed off and let private enterprise and competitive bidding do the rest.

My 83 Year old mother was paying over $7,500 for perscriptions before Part "D". Today she pays under $1,200.00 and her insurance company - Secure Horizons - has "negotiatied down" the overall cost to under $2,500,00!!!!!!!!

Finally, the Dem proposal is EXACTLY the same as the current Medicare Program combined with the VA program. You simply cannot name one single time, one single instance, where the goverment has successfully negotiated lower prices on anything. Not in the Military, not in the Space Program, not in the Post Office, not in Medicare. Not once, not ever.

Why would we think they would finally get it right this time?

shoo said...

I agree that we should have some guarantee of some basic level of coverage for all Americans. "Universal Coverage" sounds way to much like a single payer system, which would be about the worst possible result. I'll post in a couple days my ideas for a solution that leaves the free market intact and helps drive the market towards cost savings.

I think you labor under the assumption that Obama actually wants to make health care better. Obama is in socialist idealogue. Making it "fair" is far more important to him than making it better. Bringing the US down to the level of other nations, in all ways, is his goal.

Lee said...

Universal coverage just means someone is going to absorb the cost.

I am afraid you are correct Shoo, Obama was asked about key provisions on the Health care bill, he knew nothing about them. He has not read the thing.

Vigilante said...

Here's the question I have asked Wizard before and he failed to answer. He writes,

Insurance companies must make a profit in order for the actual supply and demand equation to work. Since insurance companies must make a profit for their owners (i.e the stockholders), they negotiatiate and negotiate hard with the service providers (i.e. the doctors, labs and hospitals) for significantly lower rates.

Why do insurance companies have to make a profit?
What essential service do they provide?

Questions asked but go unanswered.....

Chris said...

Insurance was invented as a way to make money. Without the profit incentive there would be no catastrophic insurance available. Without catastrophic insurance, you would be liable for all of your medical bills.

But then, that's not the real question you want to ask, is it Vigilante? You want to know why anyone is allowed to make a profit. Just because the profit motive has fueled the advances of Western civilization to this day is no reason to allow those filthy capitalists to keep it up.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

The answer is in the paragraph you reprinted above. Do you actually not know how and why capitalism works?

Without the REQUIREMENT that a company produce a profit, there is no incentive to reduce costs. That's why (and exactly why) the government spends significantly more for every product or raw material compared to private individuals or public company.

That's why, in the CNN report, Medicare pays $1,200.00 for a wheelchair that a private individual pays only $340.00, and Blue Cross pays only $270.00 for.

That's why the only part of Medicare that actually works and has significantly Rediced Cost is the Part D Perscription program.

Vigilante said...

Wizard, Physicians for a National Health Program is a non-profit research and education organization of 16,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance.

The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $7,129 per capita. Yet our system performs poorly in comparison and still leaves 45.7 million without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.

This is because private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

This country is going bankrupt because corporations have a stranglehold on those essential parts of life. There is no more essential part of life than one’s health.

Many may not realize it, but, hospitals have only been “for-profit” in the last fifty years or so. Before that, hospitals were non-profit, no HMO’s, no for-profit insurance corporations, no big pharma profits.

Do not forget, the United States does not have the best health care in the world. That is a myth. Statistics prove, without question, the United States ranks lower than eighteenth in the western world overall.

Lee said...

So Vig are you arguing for Socialized healthcare or are you arguing for Obama healthcare?

The Mayo Clinic is opposed to the current bill, apples and oranges?

What is your criteria for the system preforms poorly?

Your 45.7 million without is highly disputed.

One could argue that Freedom is more essential to life then health care. Unless you discount those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms you enjoy.

I really enjoyed your "Statistics prove without question" Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable. Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.

The fact is the "ranking" you refer to is skewed, and you bought into it.

BTW I am still waiting for you to apologize for being progressive.

Vigilante said...

You first, Lee. Your apology is overdue.

Lee said...

I'm glad you have one ready. If I can figure out something to apologize for I am so there.

Lee said...

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

With the all style no substance press conference having zero lift. I am continuing being very active on the phones and e-mail trying to stop the progressive effort and try to get something helpful this year.

Chris said...

I will apologize in advance for allowing our representatives to run the country into the ground without hanging a single one. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Are there no barrels of tar available? No feathers?

Seriously, though, read this

Lee said...

WaPo has another good write up On the Health Care Sacrifice