Saturday, October 3, 2009

Danger Of the Status Quo

 Unless I am badly mistaken, the Republicans have nothing to offer toward bringing down the obscene unbelievable cost of health care other than a few band aids like Tort reform (see a previous post on why this is meaningless) and going after fraud and waste.  Both probably need to to done, but if those are the only reforms to health care then the cost for the country, businesses and individuals will continue to escalate. 


I watched one of the Baucus hearings and, to my disgust amazement, heard one of my Arizona Senators, John Kyle, actually defend the insurance companies and their right to enjoy Capitalism to the fullest.  (My words, his meaning).  Of course, this means the status quo, which is unacceptable. 


To fully comprehend what doing nothing means please read the following New York Times article citing the Kaiser study. 


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The Kaiser study, conducted jointly with the Health Research and Education Trust, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, found that the average premium for a family policy offered at work rose above $13,300 in 2009 — up from $5,800 in 1999. The average employer paid more than $9,800 of that, while the workers contributed more than $3,500. The workers were also hit with larger co-payments and deductibles, while their policies often offered fewer benefits.


The premium increase this year was a relatively modest 5 percent, far below the 13 percent rate in two previous years. But that still far outpaced a 3.1 percent growth in wages and a small decrease in inflation. Absent meaningful reform, worse is sure to come.


Kaiser estimates that, if increases revert to the average of the last 10 years, health insurance premiums in 2019 will average a whopping $30,800, which it calls “a very scary number.” More immediately, a fifth of the employers surveyed said they are very likely to increase the amount that employees pay for premiums next year.
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department’s study highlighted how vulnerable Americans are to losing their coverage.


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Folks, our country is in deep trouble and most politicians don't even understand the details of the reform they are adding amendments to.  If this continues they will spend many more years trying to undo the hash they are making of health reform and meanwhile people will continue to die and/or go bankrupt.  

Following are excerpts from an article in Rolling Stone:


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September 07, 2009 "Rolling Stone" -- Let's start with the obvious: America has not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world. It's become a black leprosy eating away at the American experiment - a bureaucracy so insipid and mean and illogical that even our darkest criminal minds wouldn't be equal to dreaming it up on purpose.

The system doesn't work for anyone. It cheats patients and leaves them to die, denies insurance to 47 million Americans, forces hospitals to spend billions haggling over claims, and systematically bleeds and harasses doctors with the specter of catastrophic litigation. Even as a mechanism for delivering bonuses to insurance-company fat cats, it's a miserable failure: Greedy insurance bosses who spent a generation denying preventive care to patients now see their profits sapped by millions of customers who enter the system only when they're sick with incurably expensive illnesses.

The cost of all of this to society, in illness and death and lost productivity and a soaring federal deficit and plain old anxiety and anger, is incalculable .


The game in health care reform has mostly come down to whether or not the final bill that is hammered out from the work of these five committees will contain a public option - i.e., an option for citizens to buy in to a government-run health care plan. Because the plan wouldn't have any profit motive - and wouldn't have to waste money on executive bonuses and corporate marketing - it would automatically cost less than private insurance. Once such a public plan is on the market, it would also drive down prices offered by for-profit insurers - a move essential to offset the added cost of covering millions of uninsured Americans. Without a public option, any effort at health care reform will be as meaningful as a manicure for a gunshot victim. "The public option is the main thing on the table," says Michael Behan, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "It's really coming down to that."

Congress has made sure to cover itself, sabotaging the bill long before it even got to Baucus' committee. To do this, they used a five-step system of subtle feints and legislative tricks to gut the measure until there was nothing left.

STEP ONE: AIM LOW

STEP TWO: GUT THE PUBLIC OPTION

STEP THREE: PACK IT WITH LOOPHOLES
. STEP FOUR: PROVIDE NO LEADERSHIP

STEP FIVE: BLOW THE MATH

All that's left of health care reform is a collection of weakling proposals that are preposterous.
It's a joke, the whole thing, a parody of Solomonic governance. By the time all the various bills are combined, health care will be a baby not split in half but in fourths and eighths and fractions of eighths. It's what happens when a government accustomed to dealing on the level of perception tries to take on a profound emergency that exists in reality. No matter how hard Congress may try, though, it simply is not possible to paper over a crisis this vast.

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We will probably get health care reform in some form, but it will be a mockery of what it could have been and what it should be.


An aside:  my eye surgery was most successful.  The blurred vision stopped almost as soon as I posted the previous post.   Thanks to all of you who wished me well.  I deeply appreciate your caring.

8 comments:

betty said...

I'm glad you're not blurry any more. I've reached the point where I just hope a healthcare reform bill in some form gets passed. I'm still hopeful that there will be some sort of public option.

Rain said...

Glad your eye surgery went well...

and as for the health care, it's very disappointing that we have legislators and maybe even our president who won't fight for the ordinary people. People though get the government they deserve, I guess, which is a pretty scary thought. I don't think it's over and it might yet work but the politicians have profited so much from it being as it is, that they don't care unless they are forced to care by threat of losing their jobs-- which is what we all should do for any legislator who doesn't support and vote for the public option. Nothing else will turn this around.

Darlene said...

*Betty- I guess there is no OPTION for us except to keep hoping that the final bill will include the Public Option.

*Rain - As they say, talk is cheap but it takes money to buy whiskey. I just hope the president musters the pluck to veto a bill without the Public Option. I will be amazed if it survives and is included in the final bill. He now has to prove that he has the courage of his convictions.

Anil P said...

Glad to know your eye surgery went well.

I've been following the health care debate in your country closely. Much of what you opine makes sense, and I do hope it is heard as a collective voice.

Reminds me of that old saying: Health is Wealth.

Bob said...

Darlene I'm glad your eye sight has improved with successful surgery.

Your health care reform post is just fantastic. I couldn't agree more with all you said including the articles. Just to echo two points we need a public option and our President needs the courage to veto any bill without a public option. Wishing you good health.

Xtreme English said...

great health care post. and glad your eye is shaping up!

joared said...

Isn't this health care situation all just mind boggling! I have a difficult time maintaining a healthy mental state because I become so angry with the idiocy of so much of what's happening in D.C.

Darlene said...

*Anil P - My Physiology teacher used to repeat that quote and he had another one going like this: "He spent his health to get his wealth; then with might and mien, he spent his wealth to get his health back again." Thanks for the visit.

*Bob - Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your kind words. I hope you will be back.

*Xtreme English - I thank you so very much.

*Joarad - Mind boggling is the right word. I haven't felt this angry since Bush was elected the second time.