Rick and Monique

Monday, October 5, 2009

Health Care Reform--and my attempt to remain informed

Representative Alan Grayson, Democrat from Florida made two wild stabs, two unsustainable claims against Republicans last week: Republicans' health care plan consists of urging the sick to "die quickly," and the GOP has no proposals of its own.

Massive politicking does achieve results, no one can argue that.  However, the same politicking often exposes sleaze, lies and corruption, ergo Mr. Grayson.  He's throwing dry spitwads at the board hoping they'll stick anyway.

The first claim does no justice to anyone and deserves nothing if not an incredulous booooo!  The claim has no merit and is terribly deceitful.  The second claim needs a response.

Republicans have presented alternative health care plans and they have presented them often and for several years.  Democrats consistently and unabashedly resisted, filibustered and complained about them.  And today, because of the Democratic Party's strong majority, they easily hide Republican proposals deep in the bill vault.  The Republican proposals might indeed work and work well.  Americans would prefer a unified bill.  However, healthcare seems to be a one way street these days.  A Rassmussen Report in August showed that only 9% of Americans currently support the Democratic Bill proposals on the table.  About 70% don't believe we've seen an active bi-partisan partnership here either.  They believe (in my words) that we're being railroaded.

Democrats seem to need a system in decline so that their majority push for Government health care deems practical to Americans.  They've created such desperate rhetoric that even Hollywood "who's who's" may want to take note.  Even President Obama felt the need to lie about details of stories about patients losing insurance benefits.

Earlier this month, when the President addressed a joint sessions of Congress to push health care reform, he said:

"One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't even know about.  They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it.  Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when.  By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer had more than doubled in size.  her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne. That is heart-breaking, it is wrong, and no one should be treated that way in the United States of America."

ABC news, FOX and other networks researched the stories.  ABC News Senior White House Correspondent said, "In either instance, the stories, as the president told them, were not accurate."

Therefore, I'm going to re-post an article written for the Friday, October 2nd, 2009 issue of Investors Business Daily.  I don't want to draw conclusions here, but I do want myself and you to be informed.  I do support new health care solutions and I'm not entirely sure what that should look like.  The Republican Representatives are fighting a massive uphill battle.  They're a super minority for one.  Second, conservatives around the country are feeling somewhat betrayed by the Republican Party, and for good reason (spending habits etc.).  Republican representatives must work hard, must act like genuine conservatives, to gain their favor. 

I favor tort reforms and I favor choice and freedom.  Today, however, I'm simply in the mood to perform a bit of fact-checking and offer you my findings.

Rhetoric and blow-hards...bloody confusing.  Take time to read--so it takes you awhile.  Today, make it worth your time.

Health savings accounts/medical savings accounts: Americans who hold these tax-free accounts, up to $5,950 for a family, use them to pay for basic medical services.In 1996, the Republican Congress passed a medical savings account demonstration program that, in deference to Sen. Ted Kennedy's opposition to MSAs, severely restricted the number of participants. Kennedy tried to kill the MSA provision, but settled on a compromise — a limit of 750,000 accounts.

He was willing to allow a few Americans to have the accounts because he needed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which the MSAs were a part of, to pass. In the end, Kennedy won. He got the framework of health care rules that were part of the law, and, due to the bill's heavy regulations, only about 75,000 MSAs were ever sold.

In 2003, the MSA program was replaced by health savings accounts legislation, and roughly 7 million Americans now have them. But Democrats including Rep. Pete Stark of California, who called the accounts "weapons of mass destruction," tried to destroy HSAs through excessive mandates in last year's Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act. Fortunately, that bill never became law.

In recent years, Republicans have tried to advance policies that would increase the number of Americans who have HSAs. But Democrats have sat on the proposals. They don't like HSAs because they put patients in charge of their own medical care and push government further away from the process.

Insurance competition: Republicans have also been trying for years to change the law that lets state governments bar insurance companies from selling individual health plans across state lines. If the practice were ever allowed, consumers would have more providers and plans to choose from. The competition would, as competition always does, drive down prices as well.

In 2007, GOP Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina offered an amendment that would have permitted Americans to shop for individual plans across state lines. But the Democratic majority in the Senate rejected it.

Tort reform: The Pacific Research Institute estimates that the practice of defensive medicine wastes more than $200 billion a year. With trial lawyers and plaintiffs seeking fortunes through medical malpractice suits, doctors routinely over treat patients to cover themselves in the event they are sued. They also pay higher malpractice insurance premiums because insurers often have to pay dearly in malpractice cases. These conditions increase costs.

For years Republicans have tried to bring down health care expenses though legislation that would place reasonable limits on the amount of damages a jury can award. But they have had little success at the federal level going against the party that's inextricably linked to the trial bar and its generous campaign contributions.

Current legislation: Just this year, the GOP has proposed more than 30 health care bills in just the House. But those bills, which cover issues from costs to portability, have gone nowhere in Democratically controlled Washington. "The White House, in spite of saying they look forward to meeting with anybody who wants to solve these challenges, has rebuffed us at every turn," GOP Rep. Tom Price of Georgia told the Examiner newspapers.

In response to calls that he apologize for his inflammatory comments, Rep. Grayson sarcastically said he would "apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America."

Give the first-term congressman credit. Having distracted the media with his sideshow, they don't have time to report on the Republicans' efforts to improve health care in America through consumer-driven policies.

And we don't have to look further than our own borders to see how "Universal" health care might work, and what the actual cost might be.  Kerri Houston Toloczko, Senior Vice President for Policy at the Institute of Liberty and the director of its Center for Health Security and Access reported:

"Hawaii's Prepaid Healthcare Act and its coverage mandates have left Hawaiians with fewer coverage choices, higher costs and nearly double the number of uninsured. Recent budget cuts resulted in discontinuation of its coverage for children.

Oregon's state-controlled care includes an official list that dictates what treatments will be covered based on annual budget constraints. If your disease is above the treatment line, you are covered. Below the line — you're not.

However, patients being denied treatment often receive an additional note in their denial letters — the system telling them it will pay for "physician aid in dying." Oregon won't help you live, but it will help you die.

In the three years since the Massachusetts "universal" coverage plan was launched, the state still has thousands of uninsured, costs have exploded to unsustainable levels, and waiting lists for treatments have appeared.

Tennessee's "TennCare" program, an attempt to expand coverage to low-income uninsured, included dead people, escaped felons and NBA stars. It drove doctors and insurers out of the state, and has been on the brink of insolvency several times.

Tennessee's Democrat governor, Phil Bredesen, recently went to Washington, D.C., to explain to Congress that government health care does not lower cost.

But perhaps the worst — Maine's universal coverage plan is most similar to the plans circulating on Capitol Hill. It was proposed in May 2003 by Democrat Gov. John Baldacci and passed a scant four weeks later. Much like the $787 billion federal "stimulus" plan that passed Congress in February of this year, nobody read the Dirigo plan either.

While greasing the pipeline for quick passage of Dirigo Health, the governor assured that all of Maine's 128,000 uninsured would be covered by 2009, the bureaucracy would be streamlined and health costs lowered, and the plan would fund itself based on system savings with no tax increases — a similar claim to what President Obama has said about a new federal plan.

Six years after it was passed, it has insured only 3% — roughly 3,400 — of the 128,000 promised.

By 2007, the system was so broke that it closed to new enrollees. It still has not reopened and has also cut and capped benefits. The "streamlined" bureaucracy has cost the state's taxpayers $17 million in administrative costs to cover 9,600 people, leading one to wonder if there are more bureaucrats in the system than enrollees.

Systemwide insurance costs have increased 74% since Dirigo was passed, and the governor and legislature have tried — unsuccessfully — to raise taxes to fund the system.

Dirigo's more "efficient" bureaucracy started out with an aggregator agency for health records and a cost administration agency, but it now includes numerous councils to study this, that and anything else bureaucrats can conceive.

These agencies also dictate to providers how much they can spend on new technologies and diagnostic machines even though these costs are borne by physicians and hospitals and not the state.

Dirigo has failed because it lacks market forces, ignores the nature of the uninsured and was more interested in bloating its bureaucracy than providing care to patients."

I'm not sure what plan will gain the most support. Several million of those who do not have health insurance choose not to carry insurance. Others genuinely want Health Care Insurance but can't have it for one or a number of reasons. I'm hoping I'm a citizen worthy of their honest debate, not political trickery.

Government assistance has merit, just ask Military personnel, ADA patients and more about that.  But healthcare on a wide, universal scale may not work at all...in fact global research exposes many problems.

I can't stand the thought of being hoodwinked, even though I'm sure I have been a thousand times over.  I still don't have to like it.  A Canadian friend says one of two things--things can be quite difficult there and good "doctoring" is hard to find. Major procedures can take months and months to complete etc. But for the most part things seem to work well enough and since he doesn't know any better, he doesn't know what there is to complain about. That is a telling statement. We have to be very cognizant about the quite excellent care the many millions are receiving here now...including illegals who need emergency care, and what vast changes might do to that. Other than that, sweeping changes might be a good thing.


Andrea said...

Very informative. Thank you for researching and taking the time to post accurate information.

Blessings, andrea

Joh said...

Tell'em! Without tort reform, there will be NO health care reform

Billy Coffey said...

What a valuable post. This debate can be so murky and confusing (which I'm sure is not entirely coincidental). It's nice to have some truth to go by!