Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Health Care Reform: “Failure is not an option”

That’s what Charles Schumer said yesterday during the health reform debate. He also said “We're not going to not pass a bill.”

Also NOT an option: The endless dithering, posturing and masturbating that threatens to derail any and all health care reform.

Our underworked overpaid “representatives” need to get off their asses and get a bill passed and ready for Obama’s signature before the end of the year. I’m as strongly in favor of the public option as anyone — better yet, a single payer system. This is clearly indicated in lots of earlier posts and comments at other blogs.

But the public option — and now abortion (it figures!) — can NOT be allowed to derail the entire package. Too many legislators are willing to scuttle the entire bill if it isn’t perfect. And this is exactly what the Health Insurance Harem (formerly known as the GOP) wants. This is not the time for “I won’t vote for a bill that contains/doesn’t contain ______________.”

This article lists fourteen changes that will take effect in January 2010, if — and only IF — Obama signs a health care reform bill before the end of this year.

Among these changes: ending the disgraceful and immoral practice of rescission. This is where an insurance company nullifies a patient’s policy — in order to sleaze out of paying the patient’s medical bills — by “discovering” something the patient “omitted” on the insurance application form. “So, you bought a pack of Rolaids five years ago. You didn’t mention anything about your pre-existing stomach condition. Your policy is hereby canceled.”

This practice is a huge moneymaker for the health insurance industry, and it needs to be stopped ASAP.

Health insurers will also be prohibited from placing a lifetime cap on a patient’s coverage.

The article ends with: “Later on, as with Social Security and Medicare, there will plenty of opportunity to amend the law in Congress. For now, let's help Democrats get HCR passed.”

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I've been torn on which way to go after a certain level of gutting has occurred. Did you know the Senate bill threw out the language to end medical insurers' exemption from antitrust laws? I believe that was done to placate Sen. Ben "POS" Nelson.

Playing the devil's advocate for a moment, if the bill ends up being nearly worthless, there's something to be said for dropping it and then taking it to the voters next year. Crucify those responsible for the bill failing, DINO's and Republicans alike. Put so much heat on Joe "Mr. Republican" Lieberman that Ned Lamont will win in a walk. See if we can get about eight more Democrats in the Senate and hold Democratic gains in the House.

But then, that would mean Democrats would have to go to the people with a coherent, unified message. They would have to be in attack mode on a sustained basis. They would have to be out for blood, politically speaking.

Unfortunately, the Dems we all know and love are more likely to conduct themselves like the Ladies Wednesday Evening Quilting Bee and Strawberry Shortcake Club.

However, if they could dose up on testosterone and Vitamin Kick-ass, and actually fight like hell, Democrats might gain a filibuster-proof majority, and it would be clear sailing.

The risk, I know, is that taking it to the people might not work. The people can be fickle. They might just hold the failure against Dems, rejecting them as a party that can't get its act together and pass its main piece of business.

On balance, you're probably right, Tom. Just don't be surprised if a few years on we have a Republican majority in Congress and a conservative dreg in the White House — and together they proceed to undo most of what the final health care reform bill accomplished. That outcome is at least as likely as the one where Dems come along later and greatly expand and strengthen the reforms.

I hate to sound so negative, but events are making it mighty hard to be upbeat.

November 24, 2009 at 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

Huzzah and right on! I've said all along - what is left out can always be put back in. Just put it on page 893 of the next 1800 page defense bill, which the republican'ts won't dare vote against.

November 24, 2009 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

It is definitely squeaky butt time, and if ever there was a period in history when Democrats need to stand and fight the big corporations that run the GOP, it is now. I hope our representatives enjoy a good Thanksgiving because the run into Christmas ain't gonna be that merry.

November 24, 2009 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Holte: This is definitely something historic. I just hope something will get passed and signed.

Bee: I agree, we can tweak the bill and add new stuff later. For now, we just need something, as imperfect as it may be.

SW: No, I didn't know about that antitrust provision being taken out of the bill. Well that sucks.

But Ben Nelson (since you mention him) has also stirred up a lot of fury in Nebraska, just because he voted in favor of bringing this bill to the Senate floor. And I think a lot of lawmakers are being pulled every which way on this issue. A lot of Democrats are centrist or even conservative, but without them the Republicans would still be in the majority.

When the Democrats won the last 2 elections, it wasn't because the voters turned to the left (IMHO). It was because of widespread fury at Bush and the Republicans. As much as I'm personally in favor of a public option or single payer system, it might not be doable, at least for now. I'd rather get something now and then improve it and add to it later.

And I realize the opposite could happen, like you said. Republicans could sweep back in and undo everything.

At least we agree that recent events make it hard to be upbeat :)

November 24, 2009 at 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

These dems need to remember, the ass is not a head warmer and get their collective heads out of their asses and do the right thing.

Now the Christian Scientists language may be put back in the merged bill, courtesy of John Kerry. This will allow some yutz on a phone miles away, to take your phone call and pray your sickness away for the miniscule amount of 20-40 bucks. I may just open a church in my living room and start taking the phone calls from idiots and donate the money to real charities that do medical work. I saw something this morning even the NRA is weighing in on HCR taking away guns and this has to do with health care what exactly?

I am starting to lose the little hope I had for this bill, every single day and I am not by nature a pessimist. Everyday it is just something else comes up, to where this will be watered down further and further killing more and more people.

November 24, 2009 at 6:25 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Jess I like your idea for horning in on the dial-a-"doc" racket. Especially the part about donating the proceeds.

Given the way the FDA operated under Bush, if we get another neocon ideologue in the White House, you could probably market DIY cancer surgery and radiation-treatment kits in after-midnight TV informercials and get away with it.

November 24, 2009 at 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More fun with numbers:

Remember that 50% of the population is BELOW average intelligence.

Think about that as you watch what the right wing manipulators have been doing, the "issues" they've created.. ever since Obama won the election.

November 24, 2009 at 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

Yep. Someone needs to get their shit together and get something done even if it means (gasp) compromising! It ain't fucking rocket science. Hell, they can leave out the polarizing issues for now and address them later - just get the meat of it passed so my son can get affordable insurance when he drops off of mine when he's done with college in two years!

I have a dear friend who's going to lose all her health coverage after her impending divorce. She's typically right of center politically. I asked her this morning in an email if that would change her opinion on the healthcare issue. I hope it does.

Meanwhile, Kay Bailey is runnning for governor here in my home state. In one of her TV commercials she says repeatedly how she's against government run healthcare (local, state or federal). Funny thing is that she doesn't say why. Like we all know - Republican politicians simply repeat phrases until their automatons start repeating it, and eventually believing it because they're not smart enough to care or remember why the fuck they were repeating it to begin with.

It's one, big, hairy chain reaction of fucking ignorance.

November 25, 2009 at 12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The proposed healthcare "reform", as it is now, is a complete sham. I don't follow your thinking that passing meaningless reforms is better than doing nothing.

I quote the following article about the Massachusetts health plan, which is a small-scale version of the national plan being debated:


"The prestigious Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, has defined five criteria for healthcare reform. Coverage should be: universal, not tied to a job, affordable for individuals and families, affordable for society, and it should provide access to high-quality care for everyone."

The plan being proposed does nothing for any of the five points!

1) People will still be uninsured. Even in the best-case scenario, Congress admits that not everybody will be insured. They claim that millions more people will be insured under this plan, but what they're actually proposing is financially punishing people who can't afford insurance so that they buy it, and then they assume that this will lead to compliance and thus more people being covered. The problem is that the people cannot afford insurance, not that they don't want insurance!

2) Insurance will continue to be tied to a job. The best coverage will continue to be group coverage, which aside from medicaid is the only subsidized form of health coverage that exists for workers, and this will not change under the proposed plan. Therefore, quality healthcare will still be very expensive for those who do not have employer-sponsored coverage. The public plan is a joke. It is nothing more than just another insurance plan.

3 and 4): The plan does not deal with controlling healthcare costs, period.

5) Since people will continue to be uninsured and underinsured, everybody will not have access to high quality health care.

I am posting this comment because a lot of people believe the lies coming out of congress about how something is being accomplished. Please, inform yourselves about what is actually happening, and don't be duped into believing that the current "reform" is anything worth writing about.

November 25, 2009 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Hard to expect things to get done when a good chunk of your pay comes from your ostensible opposition.

November 25, 2009 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jess: Even the NRA is getting in on the act? It figures. I've seen several stories in Think Progress that a lot of conservative interest groups are banding together to fight health care reform. Some of these groups have no stake in it either way, and others -- large employers in general -- would benefit because their own employee health plans would be cheaper and have more coverage. But they're all figuring that if they can derail "Obamacare," he'll lose his momentum for all the rest of his commie agenda.

Anonymous: And even if a person is intelligent or educated, too many people have zero critical/logical thinking skills. And you're right, millions of these people are putty in the hands of rightwing manipulators.

SW: That sounds like an excellent moneymaking opportunity, with the recession and all. "Give us your credit card number and we'll send you our secret cancer cure!"

Carlos: Kay Baily Hutchison is against "government-run" health care; and yet if she gets sick or has a checkup, your tax dollars will pay for it.

I agree, let's get this fuckin' thing passed now, and they can work out the sticking points later.

Randal: Are you insinuating that our honorable leaders might have some sort of [gasp] conflict of interest??

Anonymous: That's pretty grim news, I gotta admit. But as worthless or watered-down as this bill is, it'll be a foot in the door; something to work with. And that's something we haven't done yet, not once in the 60 years since Truman first tried to establish "socialized medicine."

We have to start somewhere.

November 25, 2009 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Being this is going to an expensive proposition why not just let the insurance companies have to compete more instead of expanding an already on the brink government system.
It will not be Medicare for all it will be Medicaid for all and if anyone knows about the choices people get from that system I am sue they will be scared straight knowing what can come.

November 25, 2009 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lisa: I'd love to see the health insurance companies competing more. And the public option will be just the competition they need.

November 25, 2009 at 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a lot of good stuff in this bill (Of course I'm not an Insurance Company Lawyer waiting to punch loopholes either)

But I must agree with the other posters, this may be as far as we go. Roosevelt, Truman, LBJ,Nixon, and Clinton have all tried Health care and look how far we've gotten for our troubles.

Plus before you can have hope of progressing any further - long memoried (and patient) Conservatives have this nasty habit, generation by generation of taking apart those reforms.

That means if something gets passed, and nothing more is done, you can be sure in 20 years it be watered down to nothing it was meant to be.


November 25, 2009 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

It will not Tom. Besides I think it will allow us to have better choices and innovation.
Especially when the objective is to do away with private insurance and we are stuck only with the government then there will be no more competition and worse no choice.

November 25, 2009 at 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Thank you for saying this.

I hear nothing but griping from progressives about the details of the reform package. I want perfectly equitable care. I want universal single payer. I want coverage for all conditions. But, what I want most of all is for something to happen.

Too many people are asserting that a bill that isn't flawless is unacceptable. They're forgetting that these things are done by degrees. Let's get some sort of systemic reform in place and then we can work out the kinks.

Otherwise, we get no care for anyone.

November 25, 2009 at 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

S.W., I don't think that there will ever be another Rushpubliscum majority in this country. I don't think the country will last long enough for that to happen.

One of the ways we might have been able to save this country was to rein in health insurers, but IMO this pinprick "reform" will amount to too little, too late.

Very soon, as more and more people go hungry, and die from routinely treatable conditions, the "left/right" sides of any issue won't matter anymore. People will be looking for scapegoats, and for some heads to roll, and the people who will lead the broken-up US will step forward and offer them the scapegoats that they're looking for.

Hopefully the passport restrictions on visiting California won't be too onerous. I'd like to see San Francisco again.

November 25, 2009 at 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Tom they are all worried about the amount of times the word tax is used in the HCR language. Linky goodness is below from the gun owners of America site. I was reading TPM and followed the link from there. Kos had a front pager on it too. Here is the TPM spot and then the link to the gun owners screeching about HCR and gun control. Somehow Obama will determine through the HC system, if I should be able to have a gun. I do have one in the house, hubby has conceal carry permit, but that is besides the point for these people. My mind truly boggles how they are able to go from one thing to the other in such a small step. I would never have thought of this in a year or so of trying.


This is around the middle of the GOA screech a thon.
"Do you want left-wing bureaucrats appointed by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid determining whether you should own a gun via the health care system?

If not, then you need to call right away. Our gun rights -- and the fate of our economy -- are hanging in the balance."

November 25, 2009 at 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom: don't forget about LBJ, during whose time congress actually did something and passed Medicare and Medicaid. Otherwise, you are correct: this seems to have about as much chance of getting resolved as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which has been going on for the same length of time.

November 25, 2009 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Lisa, that is all the public option is about. The choice to have private ins or the public option. I forget which country it is but they have a combo private/public HC system. The difference, it is tightly regulated.

J.R, CA is in such a state right now I am telling friends that thought they might consider moving here don't do it. If you ever do visit, let me know and I will give you the 25 cent tour, free of charge by a native.

From your lips to the FSM ears I hope this is true.
"I don't think that there will ever be another Rushpubliscum majority in this country. I don't think the country will last long enough for that to happen."

November 25, 2009 at 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa: and you have choice now? Your only choice is whatever your employer decides. If your employer decides that you don't get health care, then it's your problem to resolve that. If your employer does cover you, you're limited to the plans they offer, the doctors in that network, and your employer may still choose to not cover the rest of your family. I really don't get where the "choice" argument comes in during this healthcare debate. If anything ever passes, it can only get better.

November 25, 2009 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

Jess, I was stationed at Fort Ord and Fort Irwin, and I used to work out of SF, so I have a pretty good feel for a lot of Cali :)

November 26, 2009 at 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


They are FREE to compete now but have you ever noticed they aren’t? No one is cutting prices or giving more services trying to get your business, it’s here it is, this is the price, take it or leave it!

They all show touchy-feely commercials saying how warm and personable they are (many of them outsource to India too).They buy each other up and like Banks share information on you (meaning if one finds “pre-existing condition” on you they all know about it).

Is this competition?
Is this Free Market?

If so tell me how


November 26, 2009 at 11:23 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Patting her fevered forehead, Lisa wailed, "Especially when the objective is to do away with private insurance and we are stuck only with the government then there will be no more competition and worse no choice."

Because that is what has happened throughout Scandinavia, Europe and on into Russia, Lisa? Well, actually no. But don't let facts get in the way of your doomsaying.

You forgot to throw in that the sky will fall, a locust plague will descend upon the land, and then the ground will open up and swallow us all.

Come on, Lisa. You wind up some day with affordable health care in a system geared from the git-go toward serving patients, not maximizing profits, and you can bitch and moan all you want. You can go into your drama queen routine because a government employee (direct or contract) handles your paperwork and sees to it your care provider gets a check — instead of a private-sector worker bee calling to tell you your vitally necessary therapy isn't covered, and oh, by the way, seeing as how you're ailing, your policy is canceled.

Meanwhile, the brave and grown up rest of us will get on with our lives, glad to have straightened out and gotten past yet one more throwback deal we can no longer tolerate or afford.

November 26, 2009 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Robert Rouse said...

Happy Turkey Day, Tom!

November 26, 2009 at 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

S.W. Anderson, although you're right to bring up examples of other countries as models where the health care system is better than what is in the US, stay away from Russia. With crooks running the country, and a life expectancy of ~68 years, the health care system there is anything but first class.

November 26, 2009 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Oh and hope you had a great thanksgiving.

November 26, 2009 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

I can see both situations (government and private) where they will try and bail on a patient because of some preexisting condition. They reward employees for this in the private insurance sector for this as we know. I'm glad to see there is some effort to finally do away with this practice. But some in Washington do need to get their head out of their ass and they are on both sides of the aisle.

The abortion issue is a red herring and I suspect the American public will NOT fall for it. Just my hunch.

November 26, 2009 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger kimc said...

I don't understand how the public option will bring competition to the health insurance companies if the government is subsidizing fees for it. The companies still get the money they ask for, it's just that some of it is from the government. Why would that make them lower their fees?

November 28, 2009 at 12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kimc: Under the proposed legislation, the payments to the insurance companies and/or the public plan are not subsidized. The public plan is simply another insurance company, with the exception being that it would be owned and operated by the government. Like other insurance companies, it will have to at least break even, although it is not clear what would happen to it if it loses money. Since it does not have the power to negotiate rates any more than the insurance companies do, the premiums charged by it will not be competitive with what is already available.

It is not clear to me either how such a plan would bring competition to the existing insurance companies.

November 28, 2009 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

I just want something done so that any American can afford health coverage. If a public option provides some competition for the health insurance companies, and if they are forced to bring down their costs, I am all for it.

I am of the opinion that people's taxes won't go up on a monthly average to anywhere near what private health insurance costs.

A friend was recently complaining about how he runs a small business and has to pay about $1000 a month just to cover his family. I asked him what he would think of this: instead of paying out a thousand bucks a month, why not pay substantially less than that, have health coverage, still get to see the same doctors if that's what he wants, and then pocket the rest of the money to pay for other expenses, to invest, etc.?

His response was fairly typical in that he said "but I don't want the government running health care!" Oh well. If sticking to his guns on his political viewpoints costs him a bunch of extra money each month, I guess it is his problem... but I think that kind of overall attitude tends to create problems for all of us. He doesn't understand that "public option" means competition for the health insurance industry, and not that the Big Bad Evil Gummint is going to take it ALL over.

I hope he has good-enough coverage that if he or a family member has some catastrophic condition they will be covered.

November 28, 2009 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger manapp99 said...

There is nothing in any bill before congress which will reduce health care costs. If you do not reduce the cost of the care, the cost for insurance to pay for the care will, at best, stay the same and at worst go up. If you make the insurance companies insure more high risk people (because they cannot turn away any with pre-existings) the cost to the insurance company will go up and therefore the cost of insurance will also rise.

How do you think those who are young and currently not paying for any coverage will feel about paying 2-3 hundred a month for insurance they rarely use? How do you think those currently with insurance that have to pay more will feel? How do you think seniors that are facing major cuts in Medicare are going to feel.

Like voting for those that caused them the pain? Just so the Dems can say...."At least we passed something"?

This is why they are looking at the taxes to raise revenue to start now and the benefits to start in 2013. After the next presidential elections when you might be unhappy but Obama will be into his second term.

The health care reform currently being considered will make future voters despise the Dems for a generation.

Unless, of course, they are successful in blaming the GOP for it like they do everything else they have screwed up.

Look up the history of HMO's.

Passing a bad bill that will cause people already hurting from a down economy to have to pay more is not likely going to be well received.

November 28, 2009 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Hey Mann-Waaas up?
They are going to pay for health care by fixing all that fraud and taxing the rich. The Dem's said it and we are to believe it that it won't add to the deficit one iota.

Jess Canada and the Uk have public and private the only difference is most people can't afford private because they are taxed so much to pay for public. So there's your big choice.

November 30, 2009 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lisa and manapp99, together again. Small world. You 2 have different IPs but the same ISP. It's a commercial one and it's Canadian, even though you're both American (New York and Colorado respectively if I remember right).

I'm starting to picture an employee break-room somewhere where you 2 and Steve, Craig Harmon, Chris Radulich and Rube Cretin (did I forget anybody?) are all sitting around talking politics.

So what's the story?

November 30, 2009 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

lol Tom. Yes you got the New York part correct and I do believe Mannapp is in Colorado.

I was surprised to see him post.
Let' see who else? Dusty(occasionally), Paul Watson,I can't even remember anymore.
Any word on how SeveO is?
I have his e-mail address but never sent him one.
I found Tom Baker on Facebook.

November 30, 2009 at 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so even the worthless public option is now dead. What else is there to look forward to now?

December 11, 2009 at 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm amazed. The polls are actually showing that people care enough about what is happening in congress that if a health bill passes in its present form, then they'll be voting Republican in the mid-term election. Could this force congress to turn things around? That would be very unusual, but stranger things have happened.

December 17, 2009 at 4:45 PM  

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