Over the past month, most of the discussions on the political blogs have dealt with Health Care Reform in one shape or another. In lieu of the Political Blog Weekly (or Weekly’s if you consider that I haven’t posted one in August), I want to cover numerous points of the debate and share with you what our fellow bloggers have to say on the topics.
One of the largest complaints by Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats is that the proposed Health Care Reform packages will lead to increased expenses to the taxpayers. This is an understandable concern as reports about Medicare and Medicaid continue to show they are running out of money. In my opinion, if Congress wants to prove that they could expand coverage to more people without costing the government more money by providing a public option, their “test” should be to reform Medicare to make it cost-neutral first to prove that their plan is viable.
Wisdom From Wenchypoo’s Mental Wastebasket says, “In about 10 years or so, about 40% of our population will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare, and the costs of these programs will become about 40% of our GDP–what better way to end one of these burdens than to wrap it up all nice and neat into one colossal package that contains S-CHIP, Medicare, plus Medicaid, the VA, and Tricare (military medical program)? H-R 3200 would do away with 5 programs, combining them into one overall health plan, and give the government an excuse to tax us halfway to oblivion…only halfway.”
The Apathy Remedy says, “Its a shame really, but I understand. There are serious grievances. I cannot see this being an intiative that will save so much money that the government won’t have to increase taxes. A while ago, the Congressional Budget Office quoted a staggering figure for how much Obama’s health care plan would cost over time. I also understand that having another option will fuel competition with other private insurance options. To say it would not is silly. If someone comes on the scene offering the same service, I am giong to have to be aware of them and outperform them to stay relevant and competitive.”
Vulcan’s Hammer says, “This is no surprise to fiscal conservatives that have been sounding the alarm since Bush was in office. With the threat of government interventionist policies like Cap and Trade and a massive overhaul of the health care system, the private economy will have to carry a burden that may be so large that any real and sustained growth will be difficult. The article didn’t mention anything about inflation which would be another thorn to knead its way into our economy.”
D-Day says, “I see nothing wrong with a maximalist strategy, which also corresponds to the stated goal of cutting costs and helping people get health care coverage. It does have an importance for future fights. But it also has an importance for right now. A health care reform that forces people to buy private insurance will destroy the party that builds it. And because of the emphasis placed on the public option, which is really out of the control of Washington at this point, a failure to incorporate it into the final legislation will dispirit the base and lead to a slaughter in 2010. In addition to being smart politics, the progressive revolt is a self-preservation strategy for the Democratic Party.”
An argument I heard in passing has to deal with the legality of the government creating a public option. Focusing on the antitrust and unfair competitive laws, some feel that a public option gives the government an unfair advantage against companies who have to meet their budgets while vying for market share against their competitors. The supporters of the Democratic legislation say that private health care companies overcharge their patients and make obscene profits, so they can cut their rates to compete with a public option. This is a valid concern, and if a public option were passed, I would hope that a federal lawsuit is filed to examine the program in closer detail.
The New Clarion says, “I fear that they will work out a system in which private insurance companies are guaranteed to survive — under government control. In other words, it will be a fascist arrangement: nominal private ownership dictated by the state. This is the direction America has been moving for decades.”
Predicted well before Teddy Kennedy passed away, the emotional trump card was going to be played by the Democrats in the hopes to drum up public support for the legislation. Kennedy was a long time advocate for Health Care Reform dating back well before his Presidential run. Hoping to capitalize on all the positive coverage surrounding Kennedy’s death and legacy, some Democrats have brought his name up during television interviews. This practice isn’t new, and the Democrats needed to take advantage of the timing.
Connecting.the.Dots says, “In the coming weeks, the President will have to put more than Ted Kennedy’s name on health care reform. When the eulogies are over, he will have to put the old pol’s stamp on his efforts to get a good bill passed by members of the club in which Kennedy spent almost half a century wheeling and dealing. That would be the tribute Kennedy would cherish most of all.”
Much was made over the comments by Sarah Palin regarding Death Panels. While the different bills do not discuss death panels, there are concerns regarding the decrease in procedures that might be viewed as not cost effective due to the age and/or medical condition of the patient. This is an argument to be made about continuing medical procedures to prolong the life of an individual past the point where the “quality of life” has passed. However, such decisions should not be made by government policy but rather by the individual and their family.
Sensen No Sen says, “The language that follows includes further detail, and it is very clearly about patients making their own end-of-life and living will arrangements so their families don’t have to. It’s about putting more control in the hands of patients themselves, not placing the lives of the elderly in the hands of faceless government drones.”
Oh those vicious “astroturfers!” How dare someone protests the actions of a Congressperson or the President? This flies in the face of 200 years of tradition where politicians are respected and trusted!
Sarcasm aside, I think the Democrats made a huge mistake early on when they tried to play down public opposition by claiming the protests of being manufactured and orchestrated. Many protests ARE orchestrated. President Obama made a living of orchestrating public involvement and resistance to the status quo as a community organizer. However, the participants in the protests have to have some sort of feeling or opinion prior to be willing participants in a public protest. But to prove they cannot be outdone, the Democrats and supporters of the heath care legislation are organizing and coordinating their own counterprotests. Will Pelosi also refer to these individuals as astroturfers? I won’t be holding my breath.
Taxes, Stupidity, and Death says, “I’m one of those Americans who you’re pissing off. I’m tired of not just the brazen lies from members of Congress, the Administration, and the Pretender In Chief, I’m pissed off that you have the nerve to gaslight us about this. I’m pissed off that when I take my time to express my opinion to my Congressman on this matter, you have the cojones to mouth off to the media that I am in the employ of the RNC, that I’m in the pay of Big Pharma, who is in bed with you guys on the Bill, that I am a sucker and a shill for a special interest, while at the same time, SEIU and ACORN members are being bused in to these same meetings.”
A Disgruntled Republican says, “President Obama and Speaker Pelosi and numerous political pundits are on a campaign to paint all citizens who are opposing Obama’s plan to nationalize health care as extremist. We who exercise our right to publicly disagree with the President are depicted as mobsters, members of the right-wing fringe, and tools of the special interest. The Hitler=Obama signs gives them ammunition to marginalize and paint all of us as the nut fringe.”
First Door on the Left says, “The goal of the Republican party is not so much to stop health care reform. The goal of the Republican party is to cripple the presidency of Barack Obama. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) admitted that when he famously said “If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” To them, the health of you and your family is just collateral damage.”
Similar to the discussion regarding antitrust concerns about a public option, the possibility that a Democrat-only bill being passed through Congress via reconciliation has some people concerned. A regular piece of legislation would need 60 votes in the Senate to pass, and as of right now, the Health Care Reform packages fall a vote or two short. One option is for the Democrats to take a parliamentarian action pass the package with only 50 votes through reconciliation. While this is legal, it is viewed as being a political shortcut and denies those being represented in the Senate from having their voices heard. I personally think that it would be a risky maneuver for the Democrats to try this, especially if the vote or implementation of the legislation fails. It could lead to a reputation of strong-arming the nation into doing something the people do not want, and can result in them losing seats in the next few election cycles.
Open Congress says, “In order to boost their chances that the Parliamentarian will allow the bill to go through reconciliation, Democrats are likely going to include the strongest, most progressive public option in the bill they can. The more effective the public option plan is at making affordable insurance available, the more likely it is to be scored to show that it will have a positive impact on the budget. For example, if it can provide cheap insurance premiums, the cost of subsidies that will be needed for low-income people to buy insurance according to the individual mandate will go down. Another example is that it could lead to increased tax revenues for the government because businesses that offered insurance through the Exchange would have more money to pay employees.”
QandO says, “If you think selling the legislative monstrosity Obama – Kennedy – Chappaquiddick Memorial Health
Care Insurance Reform Bill is going to be tough, try selling a resistant public with the song and dance that it was necessary to use parliamentary tricks to ram through what couldn’t be passed under normal Congressional rules. I’m sure that’ll impress the heck out of everyone and make them more than willing to support the party in power at the next election.”
Liberal Values says, “Budget reconciliation only requires a simple majority while otherwise it requires sixty votes to stop a filibuster. If the Democrats resort to this, it might become necessary to alter the bill to meet the requirements of a budget reconciliation measure. The irony here is that a more robust public option which has greater impact on the budget than the public option which is now being proposed might have an easier time meeting the procedural demands of the reconciliation process. Therefore if the Republicans filibuster health care reform it is possible that the result will be an even larger public plan. However it is also possible that this might lead some conservative Democrats to oppose the plan, possibly making it more difficult to achieve a majority vote.”
One of the largest issues that those who oppose the current Health Care Reform legislation is the lack of tort reform. They view that lawsuits for exceptionally high payouts as one of the leading causes of high costs for medical care. Doctors have to obtain legal coverage and prescribe multiple medical tests to cover themselves from personal financial destruction. Those additional costs have to be covered by the patients and their insurance policies. While I fully support the individuals right to push to receive as much of a financial rewards for any medical malpractice they received, I think judges and the state have the right to limit the award in relationship to the damage that was actually inflicted.
Awaken the Elephants says, “An example of one of these lawyers is our good friend, John Edwards. His specialty was suing physicians and hospitals for their medical mistakes and mishaps. He was virtually bedside with expectant mothers, waiting for something to go wrong so he could grab a payday. Each time there was a problem, John would smile all the way to the bank in the guise of helping the family. Meanwhile, the physicians’ reputations were badly hurt, the hospitals were forced to raise prices on all of us to pay for the lawsuit, insurance premiums went sky-high, and John Edwards bought himself a 10 million dollar home.”
Some of the confusion over the numerous proposals and the rushed language centers around coverage for illegal aliens. With millions of illegal aliens residing in the United States, local and state governments lose millions of dollars providing care since these individuals do not have health insurance. Be it broken bones or newborn babies, illegal aliens need to seek out professional care just as citizens do when they need help. While we should never turn away someone in need, continuing to take on financial burdens by those in our country illegally cannot be something we sustain over a long period of time. This is why we need proper immigration control to reduce our health care costs.
Len Penzo says, “America’s own version of the old Soviet rag Pravda, The New York Times, echoes the Obamunists’ stated goal of Universal Health Care, saying that it will “broadly expand health coverage to the more than 40 million Americans without insurance.” Of course, this widely quoted, but dubious, figure seems to overlook an inconvenient truth: there are millions of people that really should be excluded from the tally like illegal aliens, and Americans that can afford their own insurance but choose not to have it. When taking that into account, the number of uninsured drops dramatically.”
My Own Political Party says, “One of the big questions concerning the health care reform that is currently being debated in Congress, is what will it cover? Some politicians insist that it WILL cover illegal aliens adding to the already large tax burden of citizens, while others claim it will not. There has been some debate over abortion coverage as well. While some people probably wish that it would cover everything from purchasing the best fat burner to help them lose weight, to the entire cost or prescriptions and even medical marijuana, it is still unclear of how the health care plan will even work.”
To create a list of the special interests involved with supporting and opposing Health Care Reform would take too long. This list spans the doctors themselves, the medical companies that operate hospitals and clinics, drug manufacturers, labor unions with expensive pensions and retirement plans, lawyers who make a living off of the insurance plans for doctors as well as the lawsuits by patients, and so on. There is no way to achieve a legislative outcome that appeases everyone, and that shouldn’t be the goal. The only special interest group is the public as a whole. Following the Hippocratic Oath, the government should “never do harm.” That means, whatever legislation passed should not increase costs on any specific group of individuals, limit care for another, and breed distrust among all.
Rough Fractals says, “The Democratic Party, while more progressive in important ways than the Republican Party, takes major contributions from all the corporate interests involved in both the health care debate, and the banking rescue debate, and is beholden to those interests. To be surprised is naive, to struggle and advocate for true reform is certainly legitimate and to be encouraged.”
The BoBo Files says, “From what I have read so far – this bill does absolutely nothing to reform healthcare in America. In fact, this is no more than another wealth redistribution scheme, as was the tax and crap bill, to take money from the successful and give it to the slackers who won’t own up to their own responsibility to take care of themselves and their families. Worst yet, it uses the unions and really big corporate business to shove the costs down to the middleclass taxpayer to saddle the biggest burden.”
This is just a sampling of the aspects of the Health Care Reform discussion.