Thursday, November 5, 2009

Still More Lies about Health Reform

The insurance companies and their bought-and-paid-for public servants, like Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh, are at it again—desperately trying to derail the health care overhaul this country so desperately needs. I’ve had it with the ads running in my area, claiming health care reform will bankrupt the country, that it’s a “bill we can’t afford to pay.” (Note the clever and insidious double entendre on the word “bill.”)

What we can’t afford is more of the status quo—continuing America’s second-class system, which is undermining the nation’s health and threatening another financial meltdown when Medicare runs out of money.

Reports from the Congressional Budget Office and others consistently point to enormous savings in the new system now being proposed, as well as an option for the 46 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance. (And in a sluggish job market, every job lost may mean another family having to make the horrific choice between going without medical care or risking bankruptcy.)

I urge you, the silent majority of readers of this blog, to do two small things today to make the world a little better:
  1. Log onto the web page and sign your name to let Congress know you care about health care, and

  2. call the office of your local Representative and tell him or her to support the bill now being considered in the House.

The life or livelihood of someone you know very likely depends on whether we Americans do our small part now to move things forward--finally, after 40 years of talking about it!


Andi said...


You make an accusation right off the bat - "the insurance companies ... bought-and-paid-for public servants, like Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh"

Do you have proof that these two, and other public servants are only against this bill because they are being paid off by the insurance companies? Could it be that they actually believe this would be a bad thing for the country?

I have a lot of respect for Joe Lieberman. I believe that he is much too honorable to be "bought-off." But if you have factual evidence of this, please point me to it.

Have you read the bill, Jane? What exactly in the bill will save and improve our health care system? Give me some crumbs ... not just a rah, rah, pep talk.

If you want to reduce the price of insurance premiums, why not allow competition across state lines? Not in the bill.

If you want to reduce doctors' bills, why not fix the suit-happy legal system so docs don't have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in malpractice insurance - which necessarily shows up in higher prices for the patient? Not in the bill.

And, no, I haven't read the bill. But looking at the information from those who have read it, there seem to be crazy things in it that don't make a lot of common sense.

Why not go slower? No need to completely reinvent the wheel. Try a couple of things. See if they work, then move on to other things.

And here's a thought ... how about actually having a discussion and not physically LOCKING Republicans out of the room when we are talking about recreating somethings that involves 1/6th of the economy. Shameful!

I think I will now call my Representative.

Sue said...

As you know from my previous posts on this blog site, I am a strong proponent of health coverage reform. I've studied the situation a lot, and believe that there are several key elements that need to be addressed. One is equitable coverage for all, with no exclusions allowed on the basis of pre-existing conditions, residence location, or any other factor. A second is that health insurance needs to be separated from employment or membership in a particular organization.

As I see it, these could be addressed by either of two approaches: a nationalized program in which everyone participates; or a private insurance system where everyone is required to carry insurance with certain coverage limits. This latter would be comparable to auto insurance as required by most states. You have to have it, but you can choose the carrier and the coverage as long as they meet minimum requirements, and the insurers would be regulated by state and/or federal law.

I personally like the private insurance option because it would provide more flexibility and allow consumers to select the type of coverage that best meets their needs. Young and healthy? Choose a policy that covers minimal routine care but covers for catastrophic illness or injury. Need coverage for a growing family with all the related health care needs of children? Buy a HMO plan. Etc. If you can prove that you have the resources to cover your own costs, you can opt out of insurance entirely.

Alternatively, a national plan should be not insurance but rather a comprehensive plan of health-care access for all regardless of ability to pay. This presupposes government interest in controlling payments to health-care providers, including doctors and hospitals -- in other words, a lot of direct governmental involvement in the entire system.

What isn't going to work is the half-baked compromise legislation I see being put together in Washington, which seems more concerned with rushing a program through for the sake of having a program than in making a considered, bipartisan effort to do what's best for the citizens who are going to have to live with it. I was reading a report today that many of the trade-ins in the "cash for clunkers" program were traded for comparable vehicles (pickups in particular) that achieved minimally better gas mileage -- 1 to 3 mpg. That's an example of what happens when programs are implemented for the sake of having a program rather than giving careful consideration to the results. With vehicles -- and a very short-term program -- that may not be such a disaster, but with something as serious as health care, it's an approach this nation can't afford. If it takes four years to get it right, that's better than taking four months to get it wrong and having to live with it (and rework the program constantly because it's wrong).

Andi said...

I forgot to mention this about Medicare. There was a 60-Minutes report recently about Medicare fraud. According to this report, "Medicare fraud - estimated now to total about $60 billion a year - has become one of, if not the most profitable, crimes in America."

One fraudster told CBS that he stole about $20 million from Medicare... [and] it was "real easy." He said there were at least 2,000 - 3,000 phony companies that are set up to commit Medicare fraud in Miami alone!

Kim Brandt, Medicare's Director of Program Integrity said, "it really does come down to the size and scope of the Medicare program, and the resources that are dedicated to oversight and anti fraud work. One of our biggest challenges has been that we have a program that pays out over a billion claims a year, over $430 billion, and our oversight budget has been extremely limited."

If the government can't keep track of Medicare payments, is there a chance in hell that a public option will be better run?

It's worth a read if you missed the program ... Here's a link to it:

or google "60-minutes Medicare Fraud"

The great thing about insurance companies, as opposed to government, is that the companies must answer to their share holders. If they lost tens of billions to fraud, they would either get a handle on it real fast or go out of business.

With the government there is no such oversight. If a program is run poorly and losing money, they just take more money from taxpayers to keep the thing going.

As Margaret Thatcher said: The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.

Why not start with cleaning this Medicare problem up FIRST, before adding to it with a government controlled health care program? Think of all the people who could be helped with the $60 billion currently lost each year.

Six said...

Jane - Much of what I have seen called 'reform' is not something that improves what we have now and certainly would not reduce costs - it might slide them in to different catagories, but the bottom line is that our overall costs would not go down, rather up. One thing not mentioned in your post or Andi's comment that I would would like to see in a 'reform' would be to remove the artificial cap on doctors in the USA... our cost of doctors is artificially high because of the AMA essentially putting a cap on the number of people who can in effect become doctors each year. Artificially reduce the supply, while demand is increasing (baby boomers aging), and you are in effect increasing the cost of paying the doctors. If there were more choices in where I could go - then the costs WOULD come down. Also allow for more medical services to be performed by PA's and Nurses. You have previously mentioned Thomas Friedman as being someone you enjoy... you might enjoy his thoughts on medical care in India. What is being proposed sounds nice, but it WILL cost everyone more money and produce worse results than our already crappy over-regulated system.

How is it that my dog's cancer treatments (yes, I am one of those sappy dog owners who spends way too much on thier pet) which included an aputation, kemo (with the latest and most state of the art equipment), pain medication, antibiotics and overnight stays cost less than $3000 on a final total bill (She beat the cancer but we later lost her recently to another cause)? Because it is more accurate measurement of supply/demand and the consumer knows what they are purchasing. I chose the vet I did because of two reasons, first I received them as an excellent referral from someone I trust having been a long-established vet in the area, and the second, thier rates tend to be very reasonable. I stayed with them because thier delivery of service is outstanding - and I got a Christmas card and doggie birthday card every year and the techs all knew her by name. My son on the other hand doesn't even get to see the same doctor everytime I bring him in for his scheduled visits who read his file for the first time while we are sitting there waiting. Our care needs reform, but it needs market-based reform that allows for more competition and consumer choice - not less.

Citizen Jane said...

Andi, here are some links to information about Senators Lieberman and Bayh, their wives, and ties to the insurance industry:

As for "reading the bill," no one "reads" major pieces of legislation, any more than anyone reads all the paragraphs in a long legal contract. Much of the language is boilerplate--pages and pages of it, with key ideas that can be summarized in a few words. Committees write the legislation in official language and publish brief summaries in plain English. Everyone on the Hill who's paying attention (which, admittedly, probably leaves out more than a few) knows what's in a bill--even a very, very large bill.

That doesn't prevent the opposition, of course, from dramatically hauling out the pile of paper and flopping it on a podium to show how bloated it supposedly is--or how unrealistic it would be to expect them to actually read it. (And although I happen to believe that he Republicans are better at theatrics than the stodgy old Democrats, both sides are guilty of this.)

Citizen Jane said...

Lol. I hear you, Six! You're talking to someone who once paid $150 to get a garder snake nursed back to health!

andi said...


I read 2 of the 3 articles (Salon would not come up) you suggested to show how Lieberman and Bayh are bought & paid for by Insurance companies.

The that one of your articles uses as evidence is a great site for getting to the real truth about who gave money to whom. It also shows how the author of your article manipulates his "facts". Yes, Lieberman has received $1-million from the Insurance companies ...... but over a 20-year career! If you look at the list of top 20 current recipients, #1 is Charles Schumer, #2 Chris Dodd, #3 Chuck Grassley, #4 Harry Reid. Lieberman is not even on the top 20 list.

You can look at who the insurance industry donated to during different years. A really funny one is 2002. The number 1 recipient was ...drumroll ... Max Baucus. Really worked out well for the insurance companies, didn't it? Their donation sure didn't "buy" HIM off.

Back to Lieberman ... during his career, #1 donor - Securities & Investment Industry $3.7 million (almost 4 times what he got from Insurance); #2 donor - Lawyers - $3.6 mil (again, almost 4X insurance); #3 donor - Pro-Isreal $2 mil (2X insurance.) And remember, this is for 20 years.

Interesting facts, but they don't prove "bought and paid for" status.