Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Moderate Republicans in Washington no longer exist.

In today’s Republican Party the Tea Party and big money rule, while the middle class loses, women lose, seniors lose, education loses, the environment loses, cities lose, health care loses, Latinos lose, unions lose and, most importantly, America loses.

Make no mistake about it, this election is about power and the Republicans will do anything they can, including Jim-Crow style voter suppression, to win it all: the White House, the House and even the Senate. If that happens corporations will decide what’s best for you and me, and a packed Supreme Court will doom America to generations of ultra-right-wing policies.

Personally, I will fight that with everything I have and I implore you do to the same. Talk to your friends. Tell them how you feel and why their vote for all Democratic candidates is so very, very important. And reach out to moderate Republicans. The party that they once knew has been hijacked by extremists with whom they have nothing in common.

This is not just another election. Thank you for caring about all Americans. Thank you for fighting back!

These points and counterpoints were made in response to the prior post entitled “Letter to a Republican friend regarding the health care debate.”

(Republican friend) This conversation should be continued over coffee, don’t you think?

(Me) Drinks or drugs maybe, but I think I can live with coffee.

(Republican friend) I agree that greed is a huge factor in all of this, but unless and until the trial lawyers are reined in and malpractice limits are established, I don’t think we are going to be able to make this mess much better.

(Me) Karen, while the issue of tort reform is worthy of debate, its importance relative to the health care bill is open to question.

“It’s really just a distraction,” said Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of “The Medical Malpractice Myth.” “If you were to eliminate medical malpractice liability, even forgetting the negative consequences that would have for safety, accountability, and responsiveness, maybe we’d be talking about 1.5 percent of health care costs. So we’re not talking about real money. It’s small relative to the out-of-control cost of health care.”

“Although damage award caps could slightly limit the future growth of liability insurance premiums – about 6 to 13 percent over time, says Mello, ‘it tends to be oversold as a solution and it’s pretty unfair to patients.'”

“Annual jury awards and legal settlements involving doctors amounts to ‘a drop in the bucket’ in a country that spends $2.3 trillion annually on health care, Amitabh Chandra, another Harvard University economist, recently told Bloomberg News. Chandra estimated the cost of jury awards at about $12 per person in the U.S., or about $3.6 billion. Insurer WellPoint Inc. has also said that liability awards are not what’s driving premiums.”

A”nd a 2004 report by the Congressional Budget Office said medical malpractice makes up only 2 percent of U.S. health spending. Even ‘significant reductions’ would do little to curb health-care expenses, it concluded.”

“A study by Bloomberg also found that the proportion of medical malpractice verdicts among the top jury awards in the U.S. declined over the last 20 years. ‘Of the top 25 awards so far this year, only one was a malpractice case.’ Moreover, at least 30 states now cap damages in medical lawsuits.”

(Republican friend) Too much money, too little regard for humanity…

(Me) This I wholeheartedly agree with. As I said in my response to you, this debate has never been about unmet human needs, it’s only about money.

(Republican friend) …and too much rhetoric on both sides is not helping at all.

(Me) I agree with the fact that the unfolding rhetoric is unhelpful, but it’s the nature of the rhetoric that makes it that way. This nation has a long history…going back to Truman…of trying to fix the health care system. The same arguments used against Clinton and Truman before him have been recycled to attack the current effort. The rhetoric is designed to defeat the attempt at reform, not to shape it.

President Harry Truman was among the first Americans who saw a need for health care reform. Decades ahead of his time, he was unable to make meaningful changes during his tenure as president in the late 40s and early 50s, but he’s acknowledged by some as the inspiration for the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid under the Johnson administration.

Following are a few quotes that illustrate Truman’s opinions on this matter:

“We should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern; that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed; that the health of all its citizens deserves the help of all the nation.”

“Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection.”

“I do not understand a mind which sees a gracious beneficence in spending money to slay and maim human beings in almost unimaginable numbers and deprecates the expenditure of a smaller sum to patch up the ills of mankind.”

(Republican friend) While I understand what you are saying, I fundamentally don’t think government involvement in any more of our lives makes sense.

(Me) I think we can agree that the current system is broken. With the highest healthcare costs in the developed world, you would think we would do a better job at keeping people healthy. But we don’t and the reason is the fundamental disconnect between profit and care. Surely, this argument must resonate with you. Likewise, Medicare works. Is there Medicare fraud? You bet and it must be reduced. Is there a problem in paying physicians fairly for what they do? Yes, and it has to do with funding and the inability for Medicare to negotiate directly with big pharma. Medicare part D is a scam that was written by the drug lobby. That’s not an overreach for affect. It was literally written by the lobby staffers and then presented to Congress. But, going back to your point about not wanting more government in our lives, the government will not decide on if and how I will be treated. Can you say that about insurance companies?

(Republican friend) I also don’t want any more corporate money influencing our lives, either.

The Supreme Court has supported, on several occasions, the notion of corporate free speech. In fact, you might find the information at the end of this link useful: . Since I am most certainly not a jurist or versed in 1st amendment subtleties, I can only comment as a citizen who feels trampled by well-organized and well-funded special interests whose only intent is to make money. I regard this as a frontal assault on the rights of Americans to be heard in the marketplace of free ideas. Interestingly, the rightees who claim that Obama is some sort of Fascist seem to have overlooked the incredibly close connection between business, the government and ideology of the Christian right. Under George W, the parties all slept together and they seemed to like it. I can only hope that this evil triumvirate can be broken up before the people’s push back takes to the streets.

(Republican friend) I am well on my way to becoming a libertarian like my youngest brother.  There is just so much corruption of the public good when money gets involved.  I have to fight with my insurance company every month over benefits explanations that make no sense and never go in our favor–the mistakes are always in the company’s favor.  But I also would rather do that than fight with the government over my insurance coverage every month.  At least, with the private insurance company, I can complain to my husband’s employer, and then they get involved in straightening out the insurance. But if the government runs the whole thing, where is the counterbalance?

(Me) Karen, where is the counterbalance how? And, yes, coffee sounds nice…

If people don’t want nationalized health care, will they be willing to give up Medicare or, if they are service men and service women, the VA? At the risk of sounding preachy, never underestimate the American people’s propensity to argue against their own interests. Often, they do so because they have been manipulated; the ideological right has it down to a science. Just mention the word “socialism” and rightees conjure up images of the Soviet Union or worse. Frankly, I think that the most vocal of those pushing back against the so-called public option wouldn’t know socialism if it hit them in the head.

Months ago, when the health care bill was in its infancy, I said to my son, Mike, wait until you see how the right plays this thing. The debate will not be on the merits of providing healthcare to more people; it will be about process…capitalism versus socialism…God fearing people versus the godless (aka secularists)…the founding fathers versus Karl Marx. And, sure enough, the debate ducked the moral imperative of providing for the least among us. Rather, it was about political ideology (or the misunderstandings associated with those competing ideologies).

As I said before, most people don’t know what socialism is beyond what they hear from the fear mongers. That can easily be expanded to include capitalism, too. After all, if capitalism runs the current health care system then capitalism doesn’t work, because the health care system doesn’t work. In fact, I would argue that the whole idea of for-profit medicine should be questioned, because profit and caring for the sick and infirm are at odds with one another. To make my point, a physician’s oath says nothing about economic systems, profit or anything of the like. It only defines the relationship between doctor and patient. Yet, standing between the physician and his or her patients is an insurance company whose responsibility is not to patients, or the doctor, but to stockholders and investors.

If that isn’t troubling on its face, let’s say your physician’s practice became so big that she sought an infusion of capital to make it even bigger. Being a good promoter, her capital needs were met by a few wealthy investors…you included. You were attracted by what you believed was a reasonable expectation of capital growth. Well, as it turned out, the projections were not met. During a visit to her office…you were desperate to get relief from a recurring nightmare in which you had to go to an emergency ward of an inner city hospital to seek routine treatment instead of going to your own family doctor…you voiced your disappointment in the financial performance of your doctor’s business. “What do you intend to do about it,” you demanded to know. The good doctor thought for a moment, and then offered two choices. She could either cut costs, thereby allowing a greater share of revenue to hit the bottom line. Of course, patient services would have to be cut, and people let go but, as she said, “business is business.” The other option would be for investors to simply accept the lower level of profitability.

With the options laid out, she then asked what you would do if you were in her shoes.

Well, the ideological right often talks about the founding fathers as if they could have anticipated the mess we are in. Of course, they couldn’t. Nor did they address things that are often attributed to them by some of the more outspoken right-wing manipulators. But, what the right fails to discuss is the concern that several of those founding fathers had about the inherent unfairness of capital aggregation at the expense of the common man. But that’s not why I brought up the Founding Fathers. I did so to ask if, given what we do know about the philosophical underpinnings of the Constitution, the founding fathers would approve of our current health care system. And, to take it one step further, if were they around now to start another nation somewhere, don’t you think they would include access to health care in with “promote the general welfare”? I do. In fact, I think that the founding fathers would expand greatly on the checks and balances that they built into our Constitution. And I think that they would be sickened by the influence that corporate money has on their political system, let alone our dysfunctional health care system. And I think that they would be angry as hell at those on both sides of the aisle who claim to hold the ideological high ground when all they are doing is holding on to their corporate benefactors.

The health care debate has never been about caring for the sick, or the needy, or the new moms, or the unborn, or the elderly, or the millions of children who have never had a well-care visit with a physician. It has only been about profit and greed and status quo. America, I fear, is ungovernable. While I believe that the things that divide us are more imagined than real, even imagined differences, when fueled by enormous sums of money, cause otherwise good people to lose their humanity.

Brian McCabe