Category Archives: Health care reform

Jeeezzz, I want to feel better, not worse

Glenn Greenwald at Salon today, posts with excrutiating detail, the story of  Obama and health care reform. It’s long. It’s full of links to other long stories, but it’s an important read for progressives who really want to see something happen, and want to know why it feels like smoke and mirrors. (Greenwald says it is smoke and mirrors.)

Be forewarned though, if you’re living in any happy bubbles and don’t want them burst, stay away from this one.

Greenwald’s rage-meter can be a little high sometimes, so I always take him with a teeny dose of salt, but today? Well, today he’s got it all lined up and it’s not – ahem – to my liking.

Food for thought

Nate Silver at Five-thirty-eight, a statistican who made his name tracking the projections during the ’08 election (and being right more than anyone else) has a post this morning about health care and he says “Progressives would be batsh*t crazy to oppose the Senate bill”.

Well,  that’s a bold statement  from someone I respect and whom I’ve always perceived as progressive himself, so that makes his thoughts on this matter worth considering. He put up a graphic of his own making. I’m just putting it out there.

USA! USA! USA!

We’re winning again – in the race to the bottom that is . . . per the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US ranks near the bottom in life expectancy among wealthy nations despite spending more than double per person on health care than the industrialized world’s average.

Way to go!! We must be doing something right, yes?

From the story at MSNBC:

“Total U.S. spending on health care was $7,290 a person in 2007, nearly two-and-a-half times the OECD average of $2,984. The figures include spending by both individuals and governments.

“It suggests that the U.S. is not getting great value for its health spending, in terms of life expectancy,” Gaetan Lafortune, one of the report’s co-authors said.

He said the U.S. needs to look “closely at spending that has little or no value in terms of improved health.”

Clarity. Efficient use of words. Yum.

These days I often find Krugman a bit obtuse for me. He gets all wonky about economics, which is entirely understandable as that’s the most important thing out there even if you’re not a Nobel-winning economist from Princeton.

Today he writes about health care reform. And, as I’ve always appreciated whenever he’s ‘speaking civilian’, he is so very clear. Re Senate moderates who claim concern over fiscal responsibility, he has a delicious and succinct point:

” . . . if they’re really concerned with fiscal responsibility, they shouldn’t be worried about what would happen if health reform passes. They should, instead, be worried about what would happen if it doesn’t pass.

Further down, he says: “The path to cost control runs through universality.”


Is it really better than nothing?

I’m finding a lot of grumbling about the health care bill coming to the floor in the Senate. It seems there aren’t too many fans out there. For a while, liberals agreed that compromising on single-payer was the only way to get this process moving.

I’m not hearing that so much over the last few days. The left now seems to fear the law of unintended consequences. There’s a lot of talk saying that the plan might actually have negative consequences and should be abandoned.

This is pretty discouraging,, but still I come down on the side of ‘better than nothing.’ It may be that this bill actually doesn’t solve any of our problems. To me, however, the stronger argument is for ‘a foot in the door‘. Bills can be amended after the fact. But there has to be a real thing to amend. And if we don’t get that something now . . .

Today, at Balloon Juice Tim F isn’t liking it one bit.

“I hope that the rest of the health care bill is freaking awesome. I really do. Because without some major changes the public option is going to suck. What will stop insurers from dumping expensive undesirables into a public ghetto? A guilty conscience? An unprotected public option will do one of two things. Either it will make insurance unaffordable again for anyone who really needs it, or else public option managers will come back to Congress over and over to beg for more money. Either way Democrats will discredit public healthcare by implementing it in the worst way imaginable.

There really is no way around it. Either Democrats protect the public option from adverse selection or they will do themselves more harm than good. As it stands now we might as well let idiot moderates kill the public option and just require private plans to cover everyone who wants care.”

Like kryptonite to stupid*

I noticed this myself  when I watched the trailer (?) earlier today for the apparently actual upcoming tea-bagger documentary. (Really. There is one.)

A black guy named Nate appears a LOT in the trailer. I think it’s probably because he’s so handsome, not because he was the only black guy they could find. Here are three of his five appearances.

*An early blog title by an early blog hero: Oliver Wills.

We can’t cure them, but we sure can kill ’em

Things I know because Gene Lyons at Salon told me.

Projected cost of health care reform bill

  • Annual cost – $100 billion
  • Ten year total – One trillion

Pentagon spending projected

  • Annual – $673 billion
  • Ten year total – $6.73 trillion

Worthy of Jon Stewart

More and more these days, I find myself turning to Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times for a dose of context and sanity. Because he hasn’t become a ‘celebrity journalist’, he holds onto his credentials as an actual journalist, who forms his opinions as a columnist by doing actual ‘reporting’.  (Archaic. I know.)

This morning, he brings us some predictions – from 1964, when Medicare was a-bornin’.

“Critics storm that health care reform is “a cruel hoax and a delusion.” Ads in 100 newspapers thunder that reform would mean “the beginning of socialized medicine.”

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page predicts that the legislation will lead to “deteriorating service.” Business groups warn that Washington bureaucrats will invade “the privacy of the examination room,” that we are on the road to rationed care and that patients will lose the “freedom to choose their own doctor.”

Everything old is new again. And again. And again.

Well, I may have nothing to say, but Jeff Toobin does. And he says it so very well in The New Yorker.

“In the United States, at the time the Constitution was adopted, abortions before “quickening” were both legal and commonplace, often performed by midwives. In the nineteenth century, under the influence of the ascendant medical profession, which opposed abortion (and wanted to control health care), states began to outlaw the procedure, and by the turn of the twentieth century it was all but uniformly illegal. The rise of the feminist movement led to widespread efforts to decriminalize abortion, and in 1973 the Supreme Court found, in Roe v. Wade, that the Constitution prohibited the states from outlawing it.”

One more thing

. . . and then I’m on my way – but I didn’t want to miss noting this little charmer which I just heard on C-Span. It seems that while the Republicans in Congress have been making sure that abortion is squeezed out of  Public Option or otherwise subsidized health plans . . . wait for it . . . the Republican National Committee provides its own staff with coverage for elective abortions. Isn’t that thoughtful of them? (And don’t say ‘but it’s not gov’t money’ – you believe it or you don’t believe it.) They’ve offered this abortion coverage for 18 years.

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly has the story.

Next time, ask your nurse if she has health care

At his site, Andrew Sullivan has begun another of his occasional  ‘series’, where he invites readers to submit photos or anecdotes or stories relating to a certain subject. His latest series is called The View From Your Sickbed.  Today he publishes this from a reader:

A personal story: my girlfriend has a tumor on her ovary and no health insurance. She’s taking her last class for her nursing degree, but since she’s not going to school full-time, she’s not elligible for insurance through the school. She has two jobs bartending, neither of which offer health benefits, working nights so she can spend her days studying and taking care of her six year old daughter (who thankfully is on her father’s insurance).

I don’t know a person who works harder than her and who gives so much of herself to others.

It is a travesty that the country she lives in–the richest in the world–can’t provide her and people like her decent affordable health insurance. Arguments over funding abortion are trivial in comparison to the magnitude of health care problems facing millions of people every day in this country. As a supporter of reproductive rights, I’ll happily cede that ground to the anti-abortion zealots and fight another day, if it means people in the same boat as my girlfriend are able to have access to the care they need.

This is serious stuff

To the boys and girls in Washington, DC, who have the reins of the governance of 300 million people in their hands:

babyimagesRefusing access to medical insurance for living children with cancer because you have moral objections to a woman availing herself of a legal medical procedure is not in itself moral.

Why can you not understand that?

They did it!

An hour ago, I sat here in a celebratory mood and began writing a post. And the power went out. And at my house, that meant no intertubes. So while the mood has passed a bit, I will say it was just swell watching the votes count up to 218 in the House. In fact, they got to 220. And HR 3962, the Health Care reform bill passed out of the House. So  just good for them. I’m proud to be a Democrat tonight. Now on to the Senate, where we can only hope that Joe Lieberman doesn’t screw things up.

UPDATE: In my rush to publish this post, I neglected to mention the very best moment. When the count hit 218, the chamber just erupted in cheers, and hoots, and clapping and it was just wonderful.

Watch out! Dat evil health-care-for-all be on its way

I’ve had a lot of home chores today, so CSpan’s been on the teevee pretty much all day. The House has been live since this morning because today is the moment; a health care bill will pass the House tonight. The speeches were perfunctory hands clappingthis morning and afternoon, but about 7pm the drama began to build as the leadership started hanging around and the stars of both parties stepped up to make speeches. Each hour there are more people in the chamber, and as the hours go on it appears to be filling up.

Right now, Rep. Boehner is on the floor talking about the evils of the upcoming cap and trade climate legislation. And jobs. And taxes. Now this is one of the penultimate speeches; Boehner is the top Republican in the House. So what’s he doing talking about other issues? I take it to mean they’re moving on. I take it to mean they know they’ve lost the debate.

Folding laundry while witnessing history. This is really quite grand.

That’s some storm they got going there

Capitol lawn, during the Storming the Capitol protest over the weekend.

Turns out Charlton Heston lives!

gallery-bachmannteaparty8Two photo galleries are up over at TPM – the Bachmann ‘Storming of the Capital” dontcha’ know.  I just worked my way through 55  of the pictures. I was on a mission – to see if I could find a single face that wasn’t white European. But the white, it hurt. And now my eyes hurt, by the way.  Honest, go through them yourself and see if you can find anyone remotely Asian, Hispanic, black or anything else.

It’s finally here. And it’s a dud

As we all know, health care reform has been bouncing around Congress for quite a few months now.  Deliberations in the Senate Finance Committee on their own lasted for months. And when they finally passed it out of committee, the Republicans on that committee gave it a pass. All the while, the Congress has been hammering out a number of  bills, reconciling them and finally submitting one for consideration about 10 days ago.

image006

Try again kids

While all this was going on, the GOP did not offer a bill. Oh, they described the bill-that-was-to-come endlessly. And yesterday the put their proposed ‘bill’ out there. Timely of them. (Does anyone know how many pages it is?)

Google shows 3600 stories on the bill this morning. The Democratic Party informs me (via email):

  • The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says it would barely make a dent in most of our premiums, and could lead to higher premiums for older Americans
  • The New York Times reports that it doesn’t stop insurers from refusing to cover you because of a pre-existing condition.
  • The CBO’s research shows that the GOP plan would likely cut the deficit by just $68 billion over the next ten years — far less than the Democratic bill, which cuts the deficit by $104 billion over the same period.
  • The CBO also estimates that under the Republican bill the number of uninsured Americans would actually increase to 52 million by 2019.
  • And Politico writes that the Republican’s so-called plan doesn’t keep insurers from dropping you when you’re sick — it just makes them let you know that you’re being dropped

And that’s just the preliminary analysis. It’s only been out there for a day. Reuters has read it and their story today says: “The Republican proposal would provide for the sale of insurance coverage across state lines and calls for medical malpractice lawsuit reforms.” (Ahh – the old favorites!) “The proposal would also provide incentives to states to encourage them to review their insurance rules and mandates to find ways to reduce costs and expand medical coverage.

“Now the bad news. The proposal would reduce the rolls of the uninsured by about 3 million in 2019, leaving about 52 million people without medical coverage, the CBO said. Also, the CBO said that premiums for some people, mostly the less healthy, would go up, feeding into Democratic criticisms that the Republican plan would allow insurers to “cherry pick” and enroll healthier, less costly people.”

Their story has a lot more detail, if you want to read it.

It should have been Ned Lamont

lamont_narrowweb__300x340,0Been enjoying Nate Silver’s site a lot this morning. Plenty of good reading.  One story in particluar caught my eye because I’m becoming a bit fixated on Joe Lieberman, who has really ticked me off since he pulled his stunt in ’04. The story sports a really good headline.  Somebody Buy Joe Lieberman A Puppy. (Kind of made my morning.)

He examines a list of reasons why a senator might be obstructive on the public option and finds the usual suspects absent in Lieberman’s case. So why? What’s his motive?

“What Joe Lieberman wants, in all probability, is attention. He wants Harry Reid to have to stand up and say things like : “I don’t have anyone that I’ve worked harder with, have more respect for, in the Senate than Joe Lieberman.” He wants face time on Meet the Press. He wants to make liberals feel some pain — especially those who tried to get Ned Lamont elected in his place. He wants everyone to know how maverick-y he is.”

(Of course, face time on Meet the Press is out of the question because President McCain is booked solid through the end of the year.)

Silver then gets a bit more serious, and goes on to examine the possible outcomes, at least one of which could precipitate the door closing on the public option. He could sink Democrat’s 50-year pursuit of health care reform. Way to go Joe.  Bet Al Gore’s proud.

UPDATE:  Just plucked out this tidbit at Dependable Renegade and I’ll admit I have not run it thru The Google, but I’m going to go with it.

“Then again, Hadassah Lieberman is a lobbyist for Big Pharma . . . “

There oughta be a law

liebermanSome would say that this chart shows Joe Lieberman to the be the very model of a centrist. Ah, but I must disagree. I believe it shows Lieberman to be a bottom-sucking smug opportunist (and the Senator most in need of a face lift*).

In 2004 Connecticut Democrats tossed him out in their primary, so he went all second-grade on them, put his fingers in his ears, stuck his tongue out (wagging it a bit) and said ‘oh yeah? I’ll show you!!!’. And then he ran as an Independent so that the Republicans in CT could elect him. And they did. And he’s still sticking that wrinkled old man tongue out – at  the very party that nominated him to be Vice President of the United States. I suppose we can now count that as a near miss. * For god’s sake Joe, do not go to the guy who did Tom DeLay. Awful job.

Maybe this will help (Probably not)

Here’s a little something for those-who-cannot-see.

Across this great land, as would be expected, health care delivery and performance vary a great deal. Plans differ, some have more government, some have less. Some cover most of the people, some have shameful statistics. So thanks to the Commonwealth Fund, here is the story wrapped up in a nice little picture.

Picture1

Go to the website by the way and have some fun – they’ve got the data in all sorts of perfectly legible formats. Sure nice to see my native New England doing such a uniformly good job.

Blame Canada anyway

Thanks to Steve Benen at Washington Monthly for a list of what he calls ‘conversation enders”. On the list is ‘In Canada you can’t get a hip replacement if you’re over 65!!!”

” . . .seniors in Canada get hip-replacement surgeries all the time: “‘At least 63 percent of hip replacements performed in Canada last year…were on patients age 65 or older.’ In 2006-2007, an additional 1,577 hip replacement surgeries were performed in Canada on patients over 85.”

Figures are from Politifact. They cite Canadian data. And they add that in England 3 out of 4 replacements are on people over 60.

I like Senator Franken

He does his homework. And isn’t afraid to confront people. And that is a good thing.

Surprise, surprise

What? What is this I hear?  The Health Industry  lobby discovers that a national bill is going to destroy the nation! Why, oh why, didn’t we realize this earlier – before omgwe invested 60 years and all that damn meeting time, (which is so hard on the anterior areas of congress criters)?

It’s clear we need to call the whole thing off; if we don’t these same companies are actually goiing to have to raise their rates, which they’ve been so-o-o-o reluctant to do in the past. They’re only thinking of us.

Puhleeze. Politico thinks this may come back to bite them. A tad too much hubris, and  perhaps too late.

UPDATE (10-14): Well, gee, Price Waterhouse, the company engaged by the Health Industry lobbyists? They were a bit miffed yesterday, when they saw their work published and reported – in PART. Seems there were quite a few qualifiers to their cost projections. That part wasn’t published. But it is now. Nevertheless they get away with this because the idiot TV media made huge! important! we-lead-tonight-with-this-baby! noise about it. The ‘rest of the story’? That’ll be a footnote.

And better looking too?

Do insurance companies have better bureaucrats? Is that why we need to be protected against government bureaucrats?

And Jane sent this

Speaking of health reform, she notes that some things never do change. From 2006. Wonder if the NY Times ever checks their own archives?

Wolf Blitzer

I just listened to Wolf Blitzer refer to the public option as the “so-called public option”. Three times. In 90 seconds. Does the man understand the language he speaks or has he perhaps confused “so-called” with “alleged”.

UPDATE: I wasn’t clear. The correct terminology is “public option”. That is all.