Health Care Reform Passes March 22, 2010Posted by koreanpower999 in Barack Obama, health care, Uncategorized.
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On Sunday night, the House of Representatives passed a historic health care reform bill. After almost a year of prognostication and partisan politics, it finally passed. Just a few weeks ago when the Democrats lost the filibuster-proof majority in the Senate through the election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s former seat in Massachusetts, most politicians and pundits declared health care reform dead. However, since that point it seemed to have lit a fire into President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We finally got to see the Barack Obama that we thought we would see. He was actually engaging the process and fighting for this bill which he wasn’t doing before this. Sometimes Obama does act like the coo kid in high school who seems disengaged. I know he’s a pragmatist and that is definitely necessary in politics. But people resonate to someone who is willing to fight for the issues they believe in. They resonate with leaders who will take ownership of a legislative bill and put their neck out their to pass it. Obama finally after months and months of waffling, bumbling, and floating decided to take the bull by the horns.
With all that said, I think this bill is far from perfect. It still doesn’t fully reign in the health insurance industry. I’ve always been a single payer proponent. However, next to that, I wanted to see a robust public option. However, through the lack of leadership by the White House and the Congress along with the obstructionism and lying of the Republicans and also being sold out by conservative Democrats bought and paid for by the insurance industry like Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln, the public option never had a fair debate.
With all that said, there are some great things in this bill. Though this bill not as historic as Social Security and Medicare, is still a great accomplishment. More changes will have to be made over time to fully deal with our broken health care system. Beyond just the politicians, we need people inside the world of health care, especially doctors willing to be engaged in the dialogue and willing to make sacrifices. The AMA has said they are for health care reform if their salaries are not affected. How does that work? Doctors are vital in the dialogue about fixing the failing health care sytem. With future doctors like Dale Terasaki, there is still much hope.
I hope the passage of this health care reform is just the start of fixing our broken health care system. I hope conservatives and the Republican will actually have real and plausible ideas to deal with the issues of cost and access to health care instead of just obstructing and spreading fear and lies through the Tea Party movement. This is about more than politics. The lives of real people are on the line.
Socialized Medicine? Bring It On July 14, 2009Posted by koreanpower999 in health care.
Tags: Barack Obama, health insurance, public option, universal health care
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
When I was in the Army and known to my friends as “Combat Cohen,” I could not get over the fact that, during an era of almost universal military service, the American public supported high Pentagon spending despite firsthand knowledge of astounding waste and theft. I cite, for instance, the well-known and frequently witnessed pillaging of food by mess sergeants. From tasting their stuff, I can say that theft is what they did best.
Now I am similarly perplexed. Many, if not most, Americans have some experience with our nation’s mostly private health-care system. Yet they still fall prey to the scare tactic that nothing — but nothing — could be worse than a government takeover of the system. How things could be worse than they are now, I cannot imagine.
In the past two months, I have spent many hours accompanying a loved one to hospital emergency rooms — all of them privately operated. The rap on what is sometimes called socialized medicine is that if the government ran the system, the wait would be interminable. Well, I am here to tell you that even when the government does not run the system, the wait can be interminable.
And uncomfortable. In one hospital there was not enough space in the emergency room for all those seeking treatment. My friend got moved from a bed — where she was relatively comfortable — to a wheelchair in the hallway. There she sat, in agony, for about six hours. Something similar happened at another emergency room, though this time she was given a cot. The wait, though, was just as long.
The emergency room has become the equivalent of the family doctor. It is where you go if you don’t have a family doctor or if you do have a family doctor — and it’s after hours or the weekend. It is also where you sometimes have to go in order to be admitted to a hospital. The staff is mostly courteous, sometimes wonderfully solicitous, but the constant triaging of new people can put you on a treadmill to nowhere. The emergency room is the great leveler of American life. Everyone gets miserable treatment.
On Friday, Bill Moyers interviewed Wendell Potter about health care and such matters. Potter is the former head of corporate communications for Cigna, the nation’s fourth-largest health insurer. By his own characterization, he is one of those insurance executives who flew from meeting to meeting in private planes and hardly ever touched ground to meet real people. One day he did. He went to an outdoor health clinic over the Virginia border from his home town in Tennessee. This is what he told Moyers:
“What I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they’d erected tents to care for people. . . . And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care. People drove from South Carolina and Georgia and Kentucky, Tennessee — all over the region.”
Thank God we don’t have socialized medicine.
Into this debate about the role of government in medical care, I come jaded by experience. In addition to having been Combat Cohen, I was also Cohen of Claims when I worked for an insurance company. This means that whenever someone says something about “government bureaucrats,” I smile because I was once a non-government bureaucrat. It is not government bureaucrats who say that certain treatments will not be covered, and it is not the government that purges insurance rolls of the sick or the old, and it is not the government that makes money — lots of money — on health insurance. It is private enterprise.
But as Potter points out, the insurance industry sets out to spook the public with talk of “socialized medicine,” “government bureaucrats” and “government-run health care.” My loved one recently had to return to the emergency room because she was dehydrated. Her insurance company listed the reasons someone could return, and dehydration was one of them. They still denied her claim. The government had nothing to do with it.
The ongoing health-care debate is complex — not as interesting as Michael Jackson or Sarah Palin. But in deciding what to do and who to support in the current attempt to reform health care, don’t rely on insurance industry propaganda, but on your own experience. Recall the last time you went to the emergency room and ask yourself whether the government could possibly do a worse job. If the answer is yes, you might need medical attention more than you realize.
Elizabeth Edwards plugs Clinton plan April 9, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elizabeth Edwards, health care, Hillary Clinton.
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The Associated Press; April 09, 2008
Elizabeth Edwards put in a plug Wednesday for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health care plan — possibly the closest any Democratic presidential candidate is likely to get to an endorsement from former rival John Edwards or his wife.
Both Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have been seeking the backing of John Edwards, whose home state — North Carolina — holds a primary on May 6 with 115 delegates at stake.
“Both candidates have called John and wanted to talk to him, and we continue to talk to them about what’s going on, but we think that what we have to offer them is not so much an endorsement as a perspective on what we found as we crossed the country on what people think are important issues and the solutions that seemed most realistic,” Elizabeth Edwards said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Elizabeth Edwards, who discovered last year that the cancer she thought she had beaten had returned, said she prefers Clinton’s health care plan, which would require everyone to have health insurance and offers assistance to those who can’t afford to buy coverage.
Obama’s plan requires all parents to have health insurance for their children, but doesn’t mandate that all adults buy coverage.
“I do think that in order to ensure that we have universal coverage we need to say that everybody has to join, so for that reason the mandates that Senator Clinton is talking about I think will actually be more successful in achieving the goal,” Elizabeth Edwards said.
“I think they both have the same goals, I just have more confidence in Senator Clinton’s policy than Senator Obama’s on this particular issue,” she said.
On Universal Health Care: Hillary Clinton, “YES WE CAN!” February 11, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, health care, Hillary Clinton, Uncategorized, universal health care.
Hillary Clinton is the only candidate that will fight for and says “YES WE CAN!” on universal health care.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta states while Clinton and Obama’s respective health care plans are similar in cost, Clinton’s plan covers everyone, while Obama’s plan leaves many uncovered.
Obama, Clinton and health insurance
Specifically, new estimates say that a plan resembling Clinton’s would cover almost twice as many of those now uninsured as a plan resembling Obama’s — at only slightly higher cost.
Let’s talk about how the plans compare.
Both plans require that private insurers offer policies to everyone, regardless of medical history. Both also allow people to buy into government-offered insurance instead.
And both plans seek to make insurance affordable to lower-income Americans. The Clinton plan is, however, more explicit about affordability, promising to limit insurance costs as a percentage of family income. And it also seems to include more funds for subsidies.
But the big difference is mandates: The Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.
Obama claims that people will buy insurance if it becomes affordable. Unfortunately, the evidence says otherwise.
After all, we already have programs that make health insurance free or very cheap to many low-income Americans, without requiring that they sign up. And many of those eligible fail, for whatever reason, to enroll.
An Obama-type plan would also face the problem of healthy people who decide to take their chances or don’t sign up until they develop medical problems, thereby raising premiums for everyone else. Obama, contradicting his earlier assertions that affordability is the only bar to coverage, is now talking about penalizing those who delay signing up — but it’s not clear how this would work.
So the Obama plan would leave more people uninsured than the Clinton plan. How big is the difference?
To answer this question you need to make a detailed analysis of health care decisions. That’s what Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of America’s leading health care economists, does in a new paper.
Gruber finds that a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year. An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured — essentially everyone — at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Overall, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700.
That doesn’t look like a trivial difference to me. One plan achieves more or less universal coverage; the other, although it costs more than 80 percent as much, covers only about half of those currently uninsured.
As with any economic analysis, Gruber’s results are only as good as his model. But they’re consistent with the results of other analyses, like a 2003 study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that compared health reform plans and found that mandates made a big difference both to success in covering the uninsured and to cost-effectiveness.
And that’s why many health care experts like Gruber strongly support mandates.
Now, some might argue that none of this matters, because the legislation presidents actually manage to get enacted often bears little resemblance to their campaign proposals. And there is, indeed, no guarantee that Clinton would, if elected, be able to pass anything like her current health care plan.
But while it’s easy to see how the Clinton plan could end up being eviscerated, it’s hard to see how the hole in the Obama plan can be repaired. Why? Because Obama’s campaigning on the health care issue has sabotaged his own prospects.
You see, the Obama campaign has demonized the idea of mandates — most recently in a scare-tactics mailer sent to voters that bears a striking resemblance to the “Harry and Louise” ads run by the insurance lobby in 1993, ads that helped undermine our last chance at getting universal health care.
If Obama gets to the White House and tries to achieve universal coverage, he’ll find that it can’t be done without mandates — but if he tries to institute mandates, the enemies of reform will use his own words against him.
If you combine the economic analysis with these political realities, here’s what I think it says: If Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance — nobody knows how big — that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen.
Barack Obama flip flops on his support for a single payer health care system and is the media rooting for Obama? February 3, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, health care, Hillary Clinton, media bias, Uncategorized.
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Barack Obama flip flops on his support for a single payer health care system
Is the media rooting for Obama?