Sunday, June 21, 2009

Obama’s Health Care Program: Breaking Loose or Breaking the Bank?


Would you be comfortable buying a house if you didn’t know the price or weren’t sure you could obtain financing? Of course not, but this is exactly the kind of purchase the government is asking us to support. This past week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office threw the Obamians off balance with health care reform cost estimates that were beyond the stratosphere. None of reform plans on the table credibly explain how they will be funded. The public is becoming wary of buying into their Grand Plan on credit. Credit card purchases are easy to make and can seduce us to buy more than we can afford. As many American are learning, these purchases can haunt us and ultimately bury us in debt. President Bush was rightly criticized for signing the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, which deepened our debt. Imagine how reforming the entire health care system could affect the nation’s balance sheet.

First, show me the money. Then, show me the whole pie, not a different piece of it each month. I don’t want to support the June piecemeal proposal when I don’t know what the July, August and September offerings will be. For example, since funds are finite, should I support universal health care coverage today to discover later that there won’t be enough money remaining to pay primary care physicians more money or to fund a cancer vaccine? This incremental approach may be an effective political strategy in the short term, but it risks collapse when the fragile tower collapses.

The administration strategy seems to be to be forge relationships and deals with various stakeholders. The risk is that these deals may not survive when future deals with other interest groups threaten the earlier agreements. This divide and conquer approach can doom the whole effort as interest groups pull back or overtly oppose the president. Despite all of the smiles in front of the cameras and warm handshakes, these groups are all keeping their powder dry. The dilemma is that this gradual contruction of a coalition may not endure, but that presenting the complete health care product now won’t sell.

We have seen how quickly the medical industry groups who were singing Kumbaya at the White House last month started walking away from their ‘commitment’ to decrease medical costs by 1.5% annually for the next decade. Last week we saw the AMA offer a marriage of convenience to the president if he would ‘adjust’ the public option program. Let’s see how cooperative these physicians will be in the coming months when other aspects of the Obama plan come into view. Will the doctors still be under the tent when they realize that there won’t be meaningful tort reform and that that they will be forced to participate in the public option in order to remain a Medicare provider? Other groups - hospitals, insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, employers - who are extending the olive branch now may be swinging a club in the future. Obviously, there’s politics on all sides here. No group wants to appear to be an impediment in achieving health care reform. Some of them who are playing nice now are really playing make-believe.

One might have predicted that with a Democratic president, Democratic congressional majorities, a bloated and wasteful health care system and a public that demands reform that the president could push through his plan over a weekend. The obstacles that he is facing, and those yet to come, reinforce the enormous complexity of health care and the power and influence of its players. I wonder whether any other issue, save the Middle East quagmire, is as vexing for the administration.

Some months ago, Tom Daschle gave the president 50-50 odds on achieving health care reform this year. As the president’s approval rating ebbs, and the astronomical costs of reform increase, I think that the odds are getting longer. True, the political stars for Obama on this issue may all be aligned, but the lights are dimming.

Obama has promised to deliver us the whole health care pie. At the end of it all, will he be serving us only some crumbs?

7 comments:

jacksmith said...

AMERICA’S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY!

It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.

STAND READY AMERICA TO SEIZE CONTROL OF YOUR NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.

We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You

Jacksmith – WORKING CLASS

Anonymous said...

Doctors=thieves. How appropriate the AMA are opposing a public plan, it stops them stealing from the sick, by running a disgusting closed, overservicing shop, where they refer scans to themselves and their companies to make money.
Finally, the mask is slipping and we are seeing the real cause of runaway health inflation- greedy doctors.

Anonymous said...

The AMA deliberately keep down the number of doctors and medical schools to keep their own bloated disgusting incomes high. Time to stop this closed shop once and for all. Interesting how this is one trade union the Republicans love.

Anonymous said...

To discover the source the American healthcare mess try living outside the US for awhile. In most countries doctors are ordinary human beings, professionals, but not gods. The image of medical doctors in the US has been hyped up by numerous television programs over the years to give them the status of somewhat-flawed, but valiant saviors or gods. Juxtapose this knowledge with a little historical perspective and an international perspective, and you begin to see the origins of the conflict.

The out-of-control cost spiral in the US started in the fifties when physicians were hyped up as gods with programs like Dr. Kildaire. When they began to be seen as gods, and with the help of their union (the AMA, NEA and ATLA and others are really unions rather than associations), they began to charge ever-more outrageous fees. Before the fifties and sixties most Americans paid for the care they needed. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't outrageous. Someone could actually afford to have an operation or a baby delivered and pay for it him or herself.

Some of the more fortunate in the society were starting to have medical coverage included in their pay plans. The extra money gave doctors the ability to charge more, and doctors started to become an economic elite, as well as a professional one. As more and more cash entered the system with Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and the like, the medical system became more and more greedy, just like the educational system is starting to become (I know, I was part of it for many years). The insurance industry grew into be another disgusting monster, and its growth promoted the balloon effect in medical costs and gave the pharmaceutical industry its own source of unprecedented growth.

Once a small child has a lollipop in his mouth, just try and see what happens if you take it away from him. So many people are beholden to and dependent on these systems that are awash in cash (and that generate political cash too) that they have become entrenched greedy monsters. It's a human phenomenon - greed, mafias (oh, I'm sorry, "associations"), parasitic/saprophytic relationships with the rest of society.

Anonymous said...

At a point when I needed some type of medical care, I almost completely stopped going to allopaths in the US, even though I had great insurance. I preferred seeing a medical doctor in Mexico. Why? I had a chronic condition for which allopathic medicine had no solution. The only thing the doctors could do for me was give me test results. So I started seeking alternatives. ACCUPUNCTURE gave me the most relief and always improved my general well-being. So did a change of diet, and no prescribed drugs. (I take some prescribed medicines when an honest doctor insists they're necessary, but I grill him or her first... "Do I really NEED to take this?" and "What would happen if I DIDN'T take it?") I trust their training and expertise, at the same time questioning their ECONOMIC motives - that rush to write something on that pad and hand me a slip of paper just turns me off. Could it have something to do with that golf, I mean educational, trip he or she just attended sponsored by a pharmaceutical company? Again I respect a doctor's medical opinions, but always reserve my right to question.

Doctors, like most of the American population are trapped in the American consumerist system, except they're at the top of the professional and societal food chain. They need to pay for that new BMW or those fees for the over-priced private university their kids are attending.

I have fond memories of one particular doctor when I was living in the US who I felt was a decent human being as well as a professional, and I told him so. He told me that it was interesting I noticed a difference, because he had been in a severe auto accident and had to be hospitalized for months, even having to relearn to walk. He told me he was so disgusted by how he was treated by the medical system, his own colleagues, disgusted by the cold, uncaring, impersonal treatment he received during those months that he vowed never again to be "that" kind of doctor. This man took the time to explain his diagnoses and prognoses and was never quick with the pen and pad. He listened, was compassionate and caring, and non-judgemental.

THANK YOU DR. GUTIERREZ, you are what all of them should be!

Anonymous said...

Anonymouse, you have fibromylagia, don't you? All nuts do, don't worry.

Signed, anonymous 2

Mark said...

Stop Obama now. People are going to be forced to pay for Health Insurance they don't need. Most people can't afford health care. Now you are going to be forced to pay for health insurance you can't afford. If you don't get a plan your going to be fined. Your going to hate him if this passes. Doctors are going to love him.

Stop Obama. He's just evil.

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