Thursday, December 31, 2009

Headlines 12/31/09

Texas spends $1.8 million to weatherize 7 houses
Govt efficiency on display

What Doctors and Patients Have to Lose Under ObamaCare
Besides rights, choice, and quality. Yes, "besides."

Iran accuses Western countries of fomenting violent protests
Of course, we accuse them of supplying violent terrorists.

Dave Barry's year in review: 2009

Blue on Blue: Maureen Dowd Actually Criticizes Obama
Rips him a new one, actually.

Everybody have a happy new year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Long Weekend Healthcare Reform Roundup

Less Health Care for More Money: What's the Catch?
On Oregon's health care crisis — and their "universal" health care system.
(HT: Southern Appeal)

"This is the beginning of health care reform."
If you think this bill's bad, wait 'til you see what's next.

Mission Creep in Health Reform
Ditto.

ObamaCare and Taxes
Taxes for some; handouts for others. It's nice to have friends in high places.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An All-Powerful Medical Board?

Sen. Harry Reid has inserted into the Senate health care reform bill language making it against Senate rules to even consider over-ruling the medical board his bill will create.

That doesn't make the board completely all-powerful, but it means you have to get 66 Senators to agree (to a rule change) before you can even bring up the topic of over-ruling the board. Elected officials, representatives of the people, will be unable to control the bureaucrats.

Do you object to this? I have a hard time believing even liberals are ok with such an anti-democratic notion. If you have a problem with this, today is the day to call your senators and tell them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend Roundup

The Time for Political Games is Over
WH: "Pass ObamaCare so we can fund the troops." Yeah, it doesn't make any sense to me either.

Neb.'s Nelson approves health care bill
Principled politician or prostitute?

The Hardest Call
ObamaCare's pro's and con's. Lots of con's.

Thin Climate Accord a Small Step in Long Process
"Nations agreed ... to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels..."

As if "preindustrial levels" 1) was a constant value 2) that they can be sure they know 3) that should be a gold standard 4) that we can do anything about. A lot of gobbledygook in this.

Dreading our future
Obama's fans lose the faith: "Instead of provoking thought and inspiring ideas, the man hailed for his Ivy League nuance insists we stop thinking and do what he says. Now."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Health Care Reform Question

Something occurred to me this morning:

Right now rank-and-file liberals seem very inclined to assume doctors are lying and the Democrats in Congress are telling the truth about health care reform.

How often do doctors lie to people? How often do politicians lie?

Why should we think now is any different?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama and Afghanistan

Ok. He's sending troops. That's good. I'm glad he's doing it.

I wish he was sending as many as the good general asked for. I wish he didn't feel the need to name an exit date. I wish he hadn't pre-empted Charlie Brown.

But I'm glad he's sending the troops.

And you have to feel for the guy on this. He's caught between the right — both hawkish Dems and the GOP — and the left — who want to pack up and go home. He's going to get beat up from both sides.

So let's be praise his decision to send the troops and support him and them in this conflict.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

UN on Terrorism

People will take different positions on the Swiss minaret ban, and that's fine, but the UN human rights chief demonstrated a serious deficiency while criticizing the new law.

The Swiss government, though no fan of the initiative, says the move is "not against Islam or Muslims, but one aimed at improving integration and fighting extremism."

The UN's Navi Pillay says, "These are extraordinary claims when the symbol of one religion is targeted."

Yes — the one religion that is proving difficult to integrate into European societies and is producing terrorists.

Why do liberals have such a difficult time admitting that there is only one religion — and thankfully only one faction in that religion — that is producing international terrorists? For all they accuse conservatives of being warmongers, if we do not properly identify the enemy, we run the risk of putting other groups in the crosshairs.

Or maybe that's the point.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mobile Site

I've added a mobile-friendly feed to the site if anyone's interested:

http://www.google.com/reader/m/view/feed/http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/CBmO

Headlines 11/30/09

Climate change data dumped
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

5 Scientific Red Flags
or "You might be a poser if..."

A picture can be worth 2,000 pages
A simple graphic reveals Congressional accounting tricks. (HT: VS)

Senator Says Afghan Forces, Not US, Key to Success
Perhaps we need to define "success."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Headlines 11/25/09

Patient trapped in 23-year coma heard everything
So a "persistent vegitative state" can be neither persistent nor vegitative.

The Battle of Presidio
Chicago immigration policy: Channeling illegal aliens to a state you don't like.

Dems fight over funds left from bailout
What should we do with all that extra taxpayer money?

Toys with lead levels that exceed federal limits
Of course, "legal" now means any.

No Surprise: Coed Dorms Fuel Sex and Drinking

Monday, November 23, 2009

Senate Health Bill Roundup

= Senate Health Plan Requires Monthly Abortion Fee

... Attacks HSAs

... Would Cost $3.5 Trillion
(once you dodge the accounting tricks)

= GOP's reform ideas
Yes, they actually have some. Don't expect to hear it from the MSM, though.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's Wrong with Cutting Medicare?

This Congress keeps producing healthcare reform bills that try to pay for themselves via some reduction in Medicare payments. Those cuts will probably not happen, but conservatives decry them anyway, just in case.

What's the big deal about cutting Medicare? Let me explain using round numbers and oversimplification.

Let's set up the situation. Besides having to pay for whatever supplies are used on them (e.g., drugs, bandages), patient fees also have to cover things like the light bill, payroll, and rent as well as a reasonable operating margin (aka profit, which every business must have to survive).

Say a clinic sees 100 patients a day. Each patient's fees need cover 1% of that overhead on top of whatever went into their actual care. Let's just say that comes out to an average of $100 per patient per visit.

What if Medicare says they'll only pay $90? The clinic's options are try to cut costs, see fewer Medicare patients, see more patients, or cost shift.

The first option is a continual process in any business, and belt tightening happens in the medical field as much as anywhere, but that will only get you so far. Some physicians take option number two — which hurts Medicare patients — but in some specialties too many patients are on Medicare to make that a viable option.

Seeing more patients may allow the facility to pay its bills, but it puts more stress on the staff and the patient — if a doctor normally sees 5 patients an hour, upping it to 8 makes him work harder and means each patient gets less time with the physician. That's bad.

That leaves us with option #4 — cost shifting. If it takes $100/patient visit to pay the bills, and if a chunk of your patients don't pay that, you must make that money somewhere else. Let's say charging your non-Medicare patients $110/visit will cover expenses. It's not nice, but what can you do?

Now let's say the large insurance companies say they'll only pay $100. What happens?

The patient with neither Medicare nor insurance must now pay $130 so the clinic can pay its bills.

This is the state of things today. These proposed further Medicare cuts would take the reimbursement down to $80. Who's going to make up the difference?

You.

Some of you will pay more at the doctor's office and/or in insurance. Some of you will wait longer to have a shorter visit with a very busy doctor. And some of you will have to find a new doctor after yours can't pay his bills and closes his doors.

Taking money from Medicare to pay for health care reform is simply cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Liberal Honesty on Healthcare Reform

Thank you, Robert Reich, for finally telling the truth about what the Democrats want to accomplish:
"...[Y]ou, particularly you young people, particularly you young healthy people...you're going to have to pay more. ... And by the way, ... if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive...so we're going to let you die. ...

Also I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid – we already have a lot of bargaining leverage – to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. What that means, less innovation and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market which means you are probably not going to live much longer than your parents."
Now wasn't that easy? I don't know why Pres. Obama and his pals won't just be honest with the American people like that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Headlines 11/19/09

Soldier mom refuses deployment to care for baby
Which raises the question: Why are we sending mothers to war?

Senate bill weighs in at 2,074 pages
Why is each one bigger than the last?

GOP to 18 Million Americans: "Screw You"
That would be the headline if a GOP Congress offered 94% of Americans insurance.

Improper US Government Payments Hit $98 Billion
...and they think this is a reason to give govt more power.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Healthcare Headlines 11/18/09

= British Health and safety snoops to enter family homes
Once you have state-run health care, everything becomes government business

= China questions costs of U.S. healthcare reform
Reasonable, since they'll be paying for a lot of it.

a Grading Healthcare and ObamaCare
Filed under "I wish I wrote that," the Dean of Harvard Med School gives a succinct explanation of the problems with both.

i ObamaCare: Insurance Premiums Will Soar
Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rationing Mammograms

Want a foretaste of life with government-run health care?
"A government task force said Monday that most women don't need mammograms in their 40s and should get one every two years starting at 50 — a stunning reversal and a break with the American Cancer Society's long-standing position. What's more, the panel said breast self-exams do no good, and women shouldn't be taught to do them.

...the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel of doctors and scientists, concluded that such early and frequent screenings often lead to false alarms and unneeded biopsies, without substantially improving women's odds of survival."
"Unneeded biopsies" translates to "costly tests."

I did a quick sample of our current breast cancer patients. Almost a fourth of that sample were under 50. Of those women, the youngest – a 30-year-old woman – had the most advanced disease.

Is this panel saying those women don't actually have cancer and can go home? No. It's saying there is insufficient benefit in finding and treating these cases with respect to the overall cost.

And the medical community is aghast. The chief medical officer of the ACS says, "the [task force] is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives; just not enough of them."

That's exactly what they're saying. One or two or two thousand lives have to be weighed against the good of "society."

Right now these are non-binding government recommendations. They can make women's lives more difficult, of course – some insurance companies will decide to follow those recommendations, and their customers who want a mammogram will have problems getting one.

But if we change, as Obama et al want, to a single-payer system, their recommendation will be law. If your doctor thinks, as many do, that these recommendations are utterly insane, you still won't be able to get the test you need. It's happened in Britain, and it can happen here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Headlines 11/16/09

Chinese greet 'Oba Mao' with flaming statue
Communists call him a communist. Just sayin' ...

Joe Lieberman: Public Option is “Camel’s Nose” for Single-Payer
Here's hoping he sticks to his guns.

AP Poll: Fine print in health care prompts worries
Fine print and experience.

Liberal professor blogger Diane Ravitch on KSM in NYC
"[T]hese guys are not civilians.... They are enemy combatants, conquered in war. Yet now, for reasons that are obscure to me, they are given the same rights and privileges as ordinary American citizens."
I love it when liberals get a dose of reality. (HT: Verum Serum)

Meet the unelected body that will dictate future medical decisions.
Making life changing decisions as unaccountably as possible.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Headlines 11/12/09

Official: Obama won't take any current war options
Apparently community organizers are better strategists than generals.

A Closer Look at the House Democrats' Health Care Bill
...which seems designed to make us single-payer look good.

The Berlin Wall, 20 years gone
Photos from the Boston Globe

Using Unions As Weapons: UPS v. FedEx
And how gov't regs have gotten between them. (HT: Caffeinated Thoughts)

Don't Copy Europe's Mistakes (YouTube video)
A European asks, why try centralized medicine when it's failed everywhere else?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Headlines 11/10/09

Framed for Child Porn by a PC Virus
It's scary what can happen out there.

Confessions of an ObamaCare Backer
It's all about big government

Senior Democrat is 'confident' Stupak amendment will be stripped
Further evidence pro-life Democrats are simply fooling themselves.

Fort Hood Shooter Tried to Contact al Qaeda Terrorists
He's not a terrorist though.

Freddie Mac posts $5 billion loss
Ready to bail 'em out again? You know we will.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Headlines 11/5/09

Obama's Frightening Insensitivity Following Shooting
I heard this when it first happened and was shocked. Everyone makes mistakes, but this was a serious foot-in-mouth moment.

Democrats' Plan to Help 'Uninsurables' Requires 6-Month Wait
Hope no one gets sick on those 6 months.

Pelosi’s Government-Run Health Plan Will Require a Monthly Abortion Premium
I'm sure the URL is accidental.

What Women Want on Health Care
Even soccer moms don't like ObamaCare.

Democrats' Unhealthy Reform Plans
"If Medicare were a bank, federal regulators would be closing its doors, selling its operations and sacking its managers."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's Wrong with Obamacare?

Why do conservatives and Republicans oppose health care reform?

(A brief summary for sharing with your friends.)

When millions are without health insurance and far too many people are driven to bankruptcy by their medical bills, why do Republicans want to maintain the status quo in health care?

The answer is simple: They don't.

First, do no harm.
Our health care system, for all it's wonders, has some serious problems. We need to fix them. We must also preserve what is good in the process.

Conservatives, Republicans, and many independents and even Democrats oppose the bills in Congress right now, and the principles laid out by Pres. Obama, because they will not preserve what is good in our health care system, and they probably won't even fix what's wrong.

Universal Health Care and Single-Payer
The goal of health care reform in its simplest form is "universal health care." We want everyone to have access to whatever they need.

Unfortunately, Democratic leadership prefers a single-payer system to accomplish this. That, ultimately, is what conservatives oppose.

But no bill currently in Congress calls for a single-payer system, and the President has specifically said he thinks that's an unwise approach, so why are conservatives determined to focus on this phantom menace?

Because Mr. Obama, many of his advisers, and many Congressional Democrats have said 1) they want to get to a single-payer system ultimately and 2) their current proposals are designed to lead us to a single-payer system.

Trojan Horse
How would this happen? An insurance exchange, co-op, or public option could be designed so only those truly in need of help can get in. But if a single-payer system is your goal, you can open it up so that other people can move into the government system.

If you want to maintain the private system, you make the public option (or co-op or whatever) charge reasonable market rates and use only those premiums to pay medical bills. But if you want to move to a single-payer system, you allow the public option to charge less than private insurers and have taxpayers cover shortfalls — undercutting the private insurers and running them out of business.

Any safeguards created today to prevent a public option from destroying private insurance can be removed later. Congress is famous for last minute, unrelated bill riders that no one knows about until it's too late. It would only take a few of these for a "safe" public option destroy the private insurance market.

The Problem with Single-Payer
So what's wrong with that? Would it be so terrible to have a government run health care system like the ones that are so successful in Canada and Great Britain?

They're not successful!

Britain, Canada, France, and all the rest have had the same experience — the system runs out of money and requires a fresh infusion of taxes again and again. In the end, they can't keep costs under control and just need more and more money.

The US government is already beyond broke. Can we really afford a single-payer system?

Cost Control
Of all the issues in our health care system, there is one that must be addressed. We have to rein in health care costs. It's not enough to just get everyone insured if the price of insurance keeps climbing. We can't simply cap the price of insurance or they will simply shut down.

We have to reduce the rate of health care inflation. Nothing that has been proposed by the Democrats will do that.

Most of what they've proposed will actually make things worse: Changing to a single-payer system will cause demand for medical care to increase while incentives to practice medicine decrease. The same number of doctors, possibly less, will be seeing many, many more patients.

At the same time, attempts to control health care costs by paying less for drugs or limiting who can get them will make investing in new medicines unprofitable.

In the end, quality of care will go down. And they know it.

The "Success" of Medicare
But we've had single-payer-ish systems in the US for years. Isn't Medicare a good example of how successful a government health care program can be?

Medicare is nothing we want to imitate. It's going to run out of money in the near future, and that's when it already pays less than it actually costs to treat patients. Putting everyone in such a program would destroy our health care system.

Medicaid, the VA, and the Indian Health Service are no better.

Which One?
Given the rousing success of the above programs as well as Social Security, FEMA, Cash for Clunkers, TARP, et cetera, ad nauseum, which government program is such a resounding success that you can point to it and say, "I want health care to run like that?"

Competition
The alleged goal of the various public options is to create competition in the health insurance industry. In many states, there are very few health insurance companies. This supposedly allows them to charge high premiums. A public option, proponents claim, will give people another option, thus lowering the cost of health insurance.

But these states only have a few insurance companies because of government regulations. And people may only buy insurance in their state by law. It would be a simple thing to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines; that would instantly add hundreds of competitors to these states with only two or three insurance companies. That's far more, and better, competition than adding one government program.

Besides, a competition with a public option will never really be fair. The government sets the rules, can demand whatever reimbursement rates it wants, and can always add taxpayer money if the program runs out. The private insurers can only compete as long as the government wants them to. Again, one midnight rider is all it would take to turn the whole thing on its head.

It's like me trying to play HORSE with Lebron James. If he wants to handicap himself, I might be able to make a decent showing. But if he decides to stop holding back, he's going to blow me away. That's not a competition.

In health care, it's a ticking single-payer time bomb.

Individual Mandate
As bad as the single-payer system is, it's hardly the only reason to oppose the current health care reform legislation. The individual mandate is a "glaringly unconstitutional" attempt to force people to buy health insurance.

Supporters claim this is no different than requiring people to buy auto insurance. Huh? Auto insurance laws require people to protect other people while they exercise the licensed privilege of driving. We do not need a license to breathe.

It's also just poorly done. In the Bauchus bill, at least, the fine for not having insurance is cheaper than buying it. It's almost as if they prefer folks pay the fine. That's no way to achieve universal coverage.

Cost
The Democratic health care reform proposals offer nothing in the way of meaningful or effective reform. And they're going to cost an insane amount of money. $1 trillion to extend health coverage to a few million people?

Size and Scope
And that's really the thing. We can insure everyone without a massive restructuring of our health car system. You only need a 2000 page bill if you're trying to slip something by the electorate. And for every little feature they intend to slip into those 2000 pages, another unintended consequence they neither want nor predict will manifest. Simplicity is our friend.

Conclusion
So why do conservatives oppose ObamaCare? Because it wants to do too much, will accomplish too little, and will cost far more than we can afford.

Headlines 11/5/09

Saudi court upholds child rapist crucifixion ruling
Yeah, I'm gonna side with them on this one.

Millions worldwide would like to switch countries
More want to come to the US than Britain, Canada, and France combined.

Obama and the Liberal Paradigm
The paradigm needs an update.

Christians Persecuted In England
Natural result of diversity and hate crimes legislation?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Portentous Elections?

Republicans want to cast yesterday's election as a sign that the fortunes of the Democrats have changed, as proof they've over-reached.

I'm not so confident of that interpretation.

Virginia Republicans may have run as conservatives, but they did so on state issues. NJ's Christie, a more moderate Republican, probably won on the "I'm not Corzine" platform, but the issues there were also state issues. If this translates to national politics, it does so with caveats and modifications.

The only national-level race was New York's 23rd Congressional distict where a historically Republican district elected a Democrat.

Now, there were mitigating circumstances. Three-way races are always difficult, and the GOP helpfully ran a "Republican" who was to the left of the Democratic candidate — positioning the Dem as the "moderate" candidate that may appeal to swing voters.

But with everything going on in the country right now, the good folks of NY-23 decided to send another Democrat to Washington. If it's not a clear vindication of the Dems, it's certainly not good news for the GOP.

I frankly don't think it means all that much, but I don't want Republicans to look at the state races in Virginia and New Jersey and decide the 2010 elections are a slam dunk.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Healthcare Reform Roundup

=WSJ on PelosiCare (the House bill): Worst Bill Ever
"The bill creates a new and probably unrepealable middle-class entitlement that is designed to expand over time. Taxes will need to rise precipitously, even as ObamaCare so dramatically expands government control of health care that eventually all medicine will be rationed via politics."
Highly recommended.

4Hidden in the 1900 pages: Pelosi Health Care Bill Blows a Kiss to Trial Lawyers
I wonder what else is tucked in there.

=John Cornyn on the Senate bill with the "public option"
15 minute video (longish but worth your time)
2 minute version

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend roundup

Some of the stories you might have missed over the weekend:

Economy
4Cash for Clunkers costs taxpayers $24,000 per car
4$160,000 Per Stimulus Job?
Ah, taxpayer money at work.

4‘Jobs Created or Saved’ Is White House Fantasy
...just like the rest of the stimulus

Health care reform
4After all the fuss, public health plan covers few
...at least at first

4Flex spending accounts face hit in health overhaul
Because if you control your money, they can't.

Politics
4Republican Scozzafava Endorses Democrat After Exiting N.Y. Congressional Race
The definition of a RINO.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eye Care Reveals Secret to Health Care Reform

I was driving down I-35 one afternoon when I saw a billboard that made the key to health care reform crystal clear to me.

As much as we need to deal with health insurance portability, pre-existing conditions, and the millions of uninsured, the biggest problem — the one we absolutely must address — is rising health care costs. Every health care system in the industrialized world is struggling with this. No plan — be it a "public option," a co-op, or single-payer — can survive long-term without finding a way to contain costs.

And this billboard made the key to cost containment clear.

What did it say?
Buy one pair of glasses
Get one free
What is the one area of health care where you see specials and coupons? Eye care.

Why?

We see price competition on eye care because most of us don't have insurance to cover that; we pay for it out of pocket. Some people can get their expenses reimbursed from a pre-tax health savings account, but just about everyone has to put out their own money at some point in this process.

What's the result?

When people are concerned about costs, so are the practitioners. From 1986-2003, inflation for all consumer goods was 66%. For health care, it was 150%. For eye care and glasses, it was 56%. (pdf)

How would we apply this to general health care? Let health insurance be like every other kind of insurance -- coverage for unforeseen catastrophes. Pay for regular, predictable health care with health savings accounts that belong to the patient. When patients lay out cash for every medical procedure, they become acutely aware of and concerned about costs, and when the patients become concerned, the clinics and hospitals will too.

Wouldn't that be disruptive to our health care system? Not nearly so disruptive as having costs continue to sky rocket. And we don't have to do it all overnight; we can ease into this.

But what we cannot have is any system that makes health care continue to appear free to the user. That is a recipe for bankruptcy.

---------
related:
Real Health Care Reform
Healthcare Reform: Meeting in the Middle
Medicare: Shades of Things to Come?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Headlines 10/26/09

House Dems want Medicare for everyone

'60 Minutes': Medicare Fraud Raises 'Troubling Questions About Our Government's Ability to Manage a Medical Bureaucracy'
Am I the only one who sees a connection between these two stories?

Massachusetts Health-Care Cost Controls
The model for BauchusCare will "require residents to give up their nearly unlimited freedom to go to any hospital and specialist they want."

FACT CHECK: Health insurer profits not so fat
Lying politicians aren't really news, but this is a lie too often accepted.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Headlines 10/23/09

Obama strategy: Marginalize most powerful critics
Love that "new tone."

The Chicago Way
"When Barack Obama promised to deliver 'a new kind of politics' to Washington, most folk didn't picture Rahm Emanuel with a baseball bat."

New Front on Obamacare: the Young
A bold plan: Turn the young against Obamacare by ... telling them what's in it.

US National Debt Clock
Not recommended for those with a heart condition, bad back, or hopes for the future.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Health Care Headlines

What Singapore Can Teach the White House on Health Care
One place the control freaks aren't so controlling.

Florida advises hospitals to bar some patients in event of flu pandemic
"Quality-adjusted life years" -- a phrase that may soon be very important to someone you love.

'Expert Panels' Won't Improve Health Care
Academics are rarely clinicians.

Pathway for the elderly that leads to legal execution
Letting the hopeless die sometimes lets the health die.

Health Care Speechwriter Without Insurance
The unintended consequences of "universal" health care.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Donkey Wrench in Health Care Reform

Two unrelated articles that flickered across my screen today have got me wondering if we're being had.

Let's review the recent history of the health care reform debate: After watching Washington spend billions screwing up the bank bailout and the stimulus, large numbers of the public told their Congressmen they didn't want any kind of publicly managed health care. The House thumbed their nose at this, but the Senate (whose members are not gerrymandered into office) responded by dropping any kind of public option from consideration.

This is in spite of the fact that the public option has been clearly documented as the preferred road to get us to that holy grail of American liberalism, single-payer health care.

But what if they gave us something so bad that we begged for a public option -- or even a single-payer system?

Now let's look at those two articles.

The Wall Street Journal points out that, as expected, the Bauchus bill has income based subidies on health care insurance in the "exhanges." So someone who makes $50,000 per year will pay more for a given health insurance policy than someone who makes $30,000. It sounds logical, but it can bite you in the butt:
"Think about a family of four earning $42,000 in 2016... CBO says a mid-level "silver" plan will cost about $14,700 in premiums, of which the family will pay $2,600—since the government would pay the other $12,100. If the family breadwinner ... then gets a raise or works overtime and wages rise to $54,000, the subsidy drops to $9,900. That amounts to an implicit 34% tax on each additional dollar of income."
That's quite a reward for your hard work!

The second piece, in the Denver Post, repeats something I've heard a few times in recent weeks: The proposed penalties for not having insurance are actually cheaper than buying insurance. So those who want to save some money will be better off paying the fines until they're sick and then buying insurance -- which they can't be denied under the new law.

So the feds get the fine money until you get sick. Then the insurance company, which hasn't been getting your premiums, gets the burden of paying your bill. Which makes premiums go up for everyone playing nice and buying insurance before hand, and some insurance companies will probably go bankrupt. Who wins? The government.

And as the cost of health insurance sky rockets, people will demand action, and government will decide that the problem in this situation is the insurance company -- that it would be much more efficient to take the middle man out of this system.

This summer, America all but blew a collective gasket at Congress and told them to back down on the public option. Liberals don't like it when the masses don't follow their all-wise lead. Would they try to get their revenge -- and their way -- by making us ask for what we loudly rejected?

Yeah. What do you think?

Headlines 10/19/09

76 days since request for more troops, Obama accused of stalling
And we thought a president couldn't vote "present."

Get in shape or pay a price
Get ready: Under national health care, your every personal decision becomes government concern.

California appears poised to ban big-screen TVs
This might actually cause a revolt.

Magic Numbers in Politics - Thomas Sowell
The law of unintended consequeces applies to economics, too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Climate Change"

Today is Blog Action Day 2009. To date, I've participated in Blog Action Day, but this year I can't.

The hysteria over global warming "climate change" is ridiculous.

Our planet might be getting warmer. Human behavior might be influencing that warming. Destroying our economy with Kyoto might reduce far future warming 1%.

But since the warming trend appears to have stopped, since Mars is also warming, and since reduction in fossil fuel use by the West will only make them cheaper and easier to get for India and China, perhaps there are other issues we should focus on.

There are people in this world today without clean water, lacking access to simple medical treatments, and living in constant fear of their neighbors' barbarism.

We can actually do something about these problems! So should we spend billions on fighting global warming that may not be real, may not be a real problem, and may not be fixable, or should we spend the billions on clean water, stopping malaria, and helping children live to adulthood?

I vote for the latter.

---------
Related:
Christianity & the environment: 7 principles
7 principles and 1 hot topic

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Headlines 10/14/09

Paying the Health Tax in Massachusetts
The slippery slope is alive in Mass.

Christian Convert Teen Must Go Back Home, Judge Rules
Here's hoping he didn't just sentence her to death.

Lessons from the Forgotten Depression of 1920
There was a depression in 1920? Guess it really was forgotten. Some good thoughts here.

50 Examples of Government Waste
But I'm sure health care reform won't be burdened by any of these problems.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reclaiming Columbus Day

It's increasingly PC to spit on the memory of Columbus and his intrepid band of explorers. After all, you can't "discover" a place that already has people in it! And then introducing them to disease, slavery, and colonialism simply ruins all chances of having a Hallmark holiday in your honor.

But I think ol' Chris is unfairly getting the shaft. Here are three reasons Columbus should get historical amnesty and I should get the day off.

1) He may not have been the first guy on the continent, but he was the first guy to tell everyone else about it.

It doesn't matter if Squanto or Erik the Red were here first. They didn't tell anybody.

2) The moaning about the wretched treatment of the indigenous peoples tends to make the pre-Columbus Americas sound like the Garden of Eden when in fact they were just as horrible to each other as everybody else is.

Yes, Europe introduced them to guns, but before that they were happily beating each other's brains in with clubs and tomahawks. We unintentionally exposed them to various diseases (and no doubt got a few in return); sorry. My daughters do that to me all the time! Slavery? Europeans didn't exactly introduce the concept.

3) Neither Squanto nor Erik the Red had the foresight to found the US. Ok, neither did Columbus. But the latter's actions did directly lead to our existence.

While the loss of the US wouldn't have ended the world, it would have certainly postponed some very important advances such as electricity, airplanes, spaceflight, and the polio vaccine, not to mention the defeat of Nazi Germany. I say, yay for anything that led to the creation of the US.

I'm not campaigning for Columbus' sainthood, but it's time we give the guy a break. No one in history is as pure as the driven snow, but Columbus changed the world, and it's worth honoring his memory.

Weekend Headlines

Here are some stories you might have missed this weekend if you have a life.

Wait for benefits is 3 years if health care passes
"Under the Democratic bills, federal tax credits to help make health insurance affordable for millions of low- and middle-income households won’t start flowing until 2013 — after the next presidential election. But Medicare cuts and a sizable chunk of the tax increases to pay for the overhaul kick in immediately."
Ah, now I understand why something had to be passed before the August recess; they wanted the money.

Nobel Peace Prize Should Go to Nuclear Weapons
Peace through MAD.

Tea partiers turn on GOP leadership
Good! These are the guys who gave us six years of reckless spending under W. Fool me once...

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Top 7 Reactions to Obama's Peace Prize

When I heard that Pres. Obama had been given the Nobel Peace Prize, so many thoughts ran through my head:

7. We've just crossed over into... the Twilight Zone.

6. Al Gore's prize is no longer the committee's biggest embarrassment.

5. His reward for throwing Poland and Israel under the bus. 

4. Maybe I'll win next year.

3. This actually makes sense for a man who's written two memoirs before his 50th birthday.

2. The final piece of evidence that the Peace Prize is either a purely political statement or a complete joke.

1. He deserved to win! For his tireless work on ... on ... on ...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

O-lympic Troubles

We can certainly make too much of Pres. Obama's failure to sway the Olympic committee in Chicago's favor, but it's not something we can completely ignore.

Before and after the election we were told that Mr. Obama would be able to bring about world peace — turning our enemies into friends and healing wounds of every sort — by his eloquent words and the power of his presence.

Now we know he can’t even get the Olympics to Chicago. Not much hope for Iran, NKorea, or Russia.

Friday, September 18, 2009

CNN on Social Security

Jimmy Carter says those who oppose the president are racists. Nancy Pelosi says those who oppose the president are assassins.

CNN says they're bad at math.

CNN Money has an article that initially appears to be about preparing for retirement. But it starts out trying to refute the notion that Social Security will soon be out of money, and it seems the only explanation for that is health care reform.

Huh?

Really. What do we keep hearing about health care reform? "Medicare's broke, Medicaid's broke, and Social Security's broke, so why ..."

So here comes CNN:
"'Can I count on Social Security to be there?'

You can. Despite what you may hear about the system going broke, the funds from workers' payroll taxes will cover all retirees' payments until 2016 even if no changes are made to the current program. After that the Social Security Administration can cover full benefits until 2037 by cashing in its Treasury bonds from the Social Security trust fund. And when the bonds run out, income from payroll taxes would be enough to cover about 75% of payments for decades."
This is supposed to reassure us?

1) 2016 is 7 years away. That's really not that long, folks.

2) Cashing in Treasury bonds? We're broke! We can't pay our bills now, and we've been stealing borrowing from Social Security for years.

3) 75% of payments? For 100% of retirees? Something's not adding up. You mean we're going to have to cut benefits or cut beneficiaries? That sounds like another conversation we've been having -- rationing health care.

I don't think the fiscal strength of Social Security is something any retiree should count on, and it's certainly no defense for federalizing our health care system.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Constitution Day!

Today is the day we (are supposed to) stop and appreciate our constitution and marvel at the way it has (decreasingly) directed our governmet for over 200 years.

=Let's start with a classic:


=The Constitutional Sources Project has an annotated Constitution as well as many other relevant historical documents such as Madison's notes on the constitutional convention.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Real Health Care Reform

In the health care reform debate, we keep hearing that we must control costs. And then no one offers a method for actually getting and keeping costs down.

In all the states and foreign nations that have achieved universal coverage, not one has been able to keep health care costs under control, and most systems are operating under deficit spending or are rapidly approaching that point.

I have already written about some of the sources of rising health care costs, but I'd like to look at a couple here.

Defensive Medicine
Many doctors order more tests than they need to cover their butts in case of lawsuits. We cannot reform our health care system without addressing tort reform. Texas instituted tort reforms a few years ago that have been largely successful. Other states have had similar successes. I was encouraged that the President mentioned this in his address to Congress, but then he put a long time trial lawyer lobbyist in charge of "examining" the situation. The tort lottery has to change if we want to get health care costs under control.

Free Health Care is Expensive
The second major issue in medical costs is that it's free.

No, it's not free for the doctor or hospital. It's not free for the insurance provider. But it is largely free for the user -- the patient. We neither know nor care what it really costs; we just know we paid our copay and got whatever we wanted.

If I pay my $25 copay, I don't ever have to know whether the actual cost of the visit/procedure was $200, $2000, or $20,000. Why does that matter?

Free Oil Changes
Do you know how much it costs to get your regular oil change? I do. And if my bill isn't what I expect, I want to know why. If the closest garage charges too much, I go down the street.

But would I if my car insurance paid for the oil change? Probably not. I'd never even see the bill.

Consider two questions:
How much would your car insurance cost if it paid for your oil changes?

How much would an oil change cost if you didn't pay for it out of your own pocket?

Competition as Cost Control
The biggest problem with health care costs is the patient's apathy toward the cost of procedures. I recently had an ultrasound scan. I just went where my doctor told me.

If I was responsible for more of the cost, I would have gotten on the phone. If a hospital five miles away did the same procedure for $200 less, I would have insisted on going there.

And if I was interested in how much the procedure cost, both of those hospitals would be as well. Hospitals, whether for-profit or non-profit, have to have customers to stay open. If their customers become cost-conscious, so will they.

Creating Cost-Conscious Consumers
We could all decide to become cost conscious in our health care, but frankly that's not going to happen as long as someone else pays for it.

We need to change our approach to insurance. Our health insurance should work more like our car insurance. It should be catastrophic coverage -- cancer, heart attacks, car accidents -- rather than covering every conceivable procedure.

If I had to pay for every visit to the pediatrician out of my pocket, he would have an incentive to keep his costs low. Yes, we might not visit quite as often, but we're still going to take care of our kids.

Catastrophic Coverage
The key here is catastrophic insurance. Most health insurance covers a wide variety of procedures. Many states require insurance to cover all kinds of things, including therapeutic massage, fertility treatments, and birth control.

Instead, we should have insurance that only covers real emergencies. All of those other things drive up the cost of insurance. If we decrease what we expect health insurance to do, we will decrease how much we pay for it.

And all of the money that we don't spend on insurance can now go into our paychecks or, better, into a pre-tax health savings account (HSA) that would be used to pay for non-catastrophic health care.

Reform Now
Some will say this is too drastic. It's drastic, but it's not as damaging as pumping trillions of dollars into an ever expanding health care sink hole.

Some will say this would take a long time. They're right.

We can start tomorrow, though, with two very important things:

1) Universal coverage with catastrophic insurance. We can create this quickly and easily within the existing system, and we can get everybody taken care of so that no one will ever go bankrupt because of an illness again. Those who can't afford even this insurance can get help from the government or from somewhere else.

2) Tort reform, as Texas has shown, can turn things around quickly. Start there, and you will at least slow the rise of health care costs and stop the practice of defensive medicine.

After that, we can move toward a different approach to health insurance using HSAs.

Just This Once
There are those who think the only solution to our social problems, including this one, is government. Well, we tried Social Security; it's going broke. We tried Medicare; it's going broke, and what really works -- the drug benefit -- is one of the few things that the government has ever done that came in under cost estimates because of free market principles. We tried welfare; after decades and trillions of dollars, we tried some conservative solutions and finally made a dent in the problem.

Just this once, can we try the small-government solution to a social problem first? The big-government approach will always be there. But given the results in every other country that has taken that road, I think we owe it to ourselves and the next generation to think out of the box and give real cost containment a shot.

------------
Related: Healthcare Reform: Meeting in the Middle

Recommended reading: How American Health Care Killed My Father

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Headlines 9/10/09

=Text of President Obama's address to Congress on health care reform
I'd love to go through this line by line, but the short version is: nothing new, and nothing worth much.

=Recession may be over
Great, so let's cancel the unspent stimulus -- which is the vast majority of it.

=Premature baby 'left to die' by doctors after mother gives birth just two days before 22-week care limit
"Doctors told me it was against the rules to save my premature baby."

This is one reason our infant mortality rates are higher. We would count this baby as an infant mortality; Europe doesn't.

=Daughter claims father wrongly placed on controversial NHS end of life scheme
The story I brought you a few days ago revisited in the worst way. But this is bound to happen in the name of saving money.

One Place Feds Contain Health Care Costs

In the President's big speech, I heard nothing that would really address health care costs. Our government has proven unable to contain costs with Medicare or Medicaid. Health systems in Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan have all failed to contain health care costs.

But there is one place where the US government has been able to control medical expenditure: the Indian Health Service.

Our government provides single-payer health care for many Native American tribes, and they have simple plan for cost controls: Don't get sick after June.

Quite simply, the government allocates a certain amount of money, and when it's gone, it's gone. After that, if you're not "dying or about to lose a limb," you're not going to get much care.

Ok, this isn't really a scheme for cost control. It is, however, a good example of what can happen when goverment is too involved in your health care.

Is there no way to tackle the rising cost of health care?

Tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Health Care Reform in Other Countries

Britain and Canada aren't the only countries with some kind of universal health care program. What else is out there?

The French health care system, lauded by many around the world, is based on a public insurance that is funded by employee and employer. "The working population has twenty percent of their gross salary deducted at source to fund the [health care] system." 20%. Just for health care. But that might be worth it to create a sustainable universal health care system.

But it doesn't. The French health system is continually in the red. People have begun buying supplemental insurance to cover what the government won't. They pay doctors much less than we do. None of this is keeping costs down. This is not a system we want to immitate.

Germany, on the other hand, has no government system. Their health care is financed solely through insurance companies, for-profit and otherwise. Everyone is required to have insurance, the premiums for which are deducted as a payroll tax. And "health care costs ... are among the most expensive in the world." I don't think this is one to immitate.

"Japan has a system that costs half as much and often achieves better medical outcomes than its American counterpart. It does so by banning insurance company profits, limiting doctor fees and accepting shortcomings in care that many well-insured Americans would find intolerable. ... Health care in Japan -- a hybrid system funded by job-based insurance premiums and taxes -- is universal and mandatory, and consumes about 8 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, half as much as in the United States. ... But many health-care economists say Japan's low-cost system is probably not sustainable without significant change."

They also experience the long waits, lack of emergency care, and shortage of specialists. Let's not immitate them either.

But there's good news! I finally found a government health care program that seems to keep costs under control. Run by our government! More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Health Care Reform Experiences by the States

In all the years that Congress has been debating some kind of health care reform, some of the states have tried their own hand at the matter. Let's look at a few of them.

Massachusetts has made a high-profile attempt at universal coverage. It's approach has been praised by both sides, but their experience has been that controlling costs required reducing payments to hospitals (sometimes not even covering operating costs) and excluding some who had been initially offered coverage. And the costs really haven't been controlled. In the end, I don't think it can be viewed as a viable model for a national reform to follow.

Maine has faired no better. It tried to save money by cutting payments to doctors and hospitals. It expanded its Medicaid rolls to twice the national average, but it's "public option" is so expensive low income residents can't afford it. A healthy, single, 30-year-old male in Maine pays almost 3.5 times as much for insurance in Maine as he would in New Hampshire. Premiums have increased 74%. Now new enrollment has been capped; there's a waiting list to get into the public option. Verdict? Train wreck.

Washington's example isn't a government run option; its Group Health Cooperative has been floated as a model for nation-wide co-ops. The co-op runs its own medical centers and employs the doctors; it pays them salaries instead of fee per service. It focuses on keeping patients healthy rather than treating illnesses. And premiums went up 9.7% last year and 13% again this year. Not exactly a great model for cost containment.

Oregon? They have repeated examples of the state health system declining curative treatment but helpfully offering physician-assisted suicide. 'Nuf said.

Other states have different experiences, but so far I haven't heard of any having any real luck at cost control. Universal coverage has proven to be impossible to achieve and prohibitively expensive to even approach. Does that mean we should just give up?

Has no one in the whole world come up with any solutions? We'll look at some other countries tomorrow.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Headlines 9/7/09

Barack Obama accused of making 'Depression' mistakes
"We have learned some things from comparable experiences of the 1930s' Great Depression, perhaps enough to reduce the severity of the current contraction. But we have made no progress toward putting limits on political leaders, who act out their natural proclivities without any basic understanding of what makes capitalism work."

Frugality is the new normal
...which is what we've needed for a long time. But it's gonna hurt.

A Doctor's Prescription for Legal Reform
Funny and illuminating.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Death Panels Again?

Let me start by saying the "death panel" thing was from the beginning overblown.

But it was real.

It was a sound-bite friendly way of expressing the truth that in a government-run system, the government has a financial incentive to help you die quicker. No one expects the old to be thrown into the gutter. Far from; they'd be given the best palliative care available. Just not curative care.

After all Medicare spends 80% of its funds in the last six months of a patient's life (or so we've been told repeatedly). We have to cut back, and that seems like the best place to do it.

As Anne Moore said in Salon,
"At the end of our long and increasingly longer lives, when we are terminally ill and in the last months of life, we must accept our bodies' decline, face our own mortality, gather our families and say goodbye. Say no to feeding tubes, ventilators, resuscitators, the isolation of ICU."
So should we have our doctors judge when a patient's reached those last six months and cut costs?

What if he's wrong?

Britain introduced guidelines "to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away. "

But "a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death."
"They look for signs that a patient is approaching their final hours, which can include if patients have lost consciousness or whether they are having difficulty swallowing medication.

However, doctors warn that these signs can point to other medical problems.

Patients can become semi-conscious and confused as a side effect of pain-killing drugs such as morphine if they are also dehydrated, for instance."
So are people with six years to live being denied treatment because they appear to be at the end of their lives? Maybe so.

No one appears to be claiming that anyone's out to kill Granny. But she's dying anyway.

It's a natural side-effect of government funded medical care.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Headlines 9/1/09

Obama to address nation's students
On the surface this seems innocuous, but given the cult of personality that exists around Dear Leader, I'm leary.

Retail Health Clinics: The Free Market is Bending the Cost Curve
Innovation, not regulation, reduces health care costs.

Seller, beware: Feds cracking down on secondhand sales of some products
Why stop at micromanaging banking, health care, and the car industry when you can run garage sales too?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Headlines 8/31/09

=Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
This make anybody else uneasy?

=Feds to use kids in census
This make anybody else uneasy?

=ABC, NBC Won't Air Ad Critical of Obama's Health Care Plan
They're barely even pretending to be objective anymore; maybe it's for the best.

=Secret process sends stimulus funds to pet projects
Post-partisanship at its finest.

=Car dealers may or may not get the "clunker" money
The feds can't even give away money right.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Headlines 8/27/09

Sorry for the silence; work has just been nuts.

Whatever Happened to the Work Ethic?

He thinks liberals and capitalists killed it. Long but well worth the read.

Bed shortage forces 4,000 UK mothers to give birth in elevators, corridors
But at least it was free.

'Win One for Teddy,' Say Dems Pushing for Health Reform
say, "Let's pin it on the dead guy."

CIA Interrogation Program Was Effective and Circumscribed
You've heard the liberal media's party line; here's the conservative one.

Democrat attacks Democratic Party HQ (video)
Another attempt at setting up conservatives?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Headlines 8/24/09

Health Insurers Fear Probe Is Reprisal
House Energy and Commerce Committee is "examining executive compensation and other business practices of the health industry."

As vets await checks, VA workers get $24M bonuses
I guess compensation and business practices are not a concern here.

Competition lacking among private health insurers
...so let's create a federal monopoly.

Just how stupid do they think we are?
A question we probably don't want answered...

Government Healthcare: Viagra for Pedophiles!
If ever there was a headline that provided it's own commentary...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Change

This was too good not to share:

Optimus Prime poster: Change ... into a truck

(source: Comics Continuum)

Goverment Health Care: A Metaphor

A columnist for The Independent, in sharing the trials he has undergone trying to get health care for his disabled daughter in Great Britain, admitted that his experience wasn't the only version you'll hear even as it isn't unique.
"...[F]riends who have suffered heart problems, cycling accidents or had very premature babies will testify to flawless treatment. But then I know of other friends with equally terrible experiences of arrogant doctors, disinterested nurses, lost files and suchlike."
This reminds me of what I think is one of the best pictures of how a government-run health care system would work: the public school system.

Some public schools are great. Some are a train wreck. It varies widely depending on where you live, and you get what you get unless you've got the money to spring for private care school.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Single-Payer is Great

I've worked with a number of people who lived and/or worked in the Canadian or British health care systems. Adding their stories to my up close view of Medicare, I think I can sum up their experience of living with these systems:

"It's great as long as you're basically healthy."

If you get pregnant, break an arm, or need some medicine, you're taken care of. You have nothing to worry about, and that, I think, is the origin of statments like "you don't have to worry about being ruined when you get sick."

But when you get real sick you have no idea what's going to happen.

But isn't that the case here? No. Here it's the case with some people. There it's the case with everyone.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Health Care Headlines 8/19/09

4We Don't Spend Enough on Health Care
"Japan spends 8% of its GDP on health care—the same as Zimbabwe."

Um, perhaps we need a different measure.

4Whose Medical Decisions?
"There are more Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) devices per capita in the United States, more coronary bypass operations and Americans use more new pharmaceutical drugs created within the past 5 years."
In other words, we get what we pay for.

4Medicare For All Isn't The Answer
"...[H]ospitals received only 94.1 cents for every dollar they spent treating Medicare patients in 2007. MedPAC projects that number to decline to 93.1 cents per dollar spent in 2009, for an operating shortfall of 7%. Medicare works because hospitals subsidize the care they provide with revenue received from patients who have commercial insurance. Without that revenue, hospitals could not afford to care for those covered by Medicare. In effect, everyone with insurance is subsidizing the Medicare shortfall..."
And if we all go into Medicare (or something similar), our healthcare system will go broke.

4A Trojan Horse Rises (video)


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Headlines 8/18/08

=Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest
He's defending his right to bear arms ... and creating sympathy for the other side.

=Speaking of which...
Black Man Pleads Guilty to Posing as Obama-Hating White Supremacist on Facebook
If there is an assasination attempt on Pres. Obama, I'm going to be looking for a setup.

=Obama Administration Says DOMA Unfair
They're simultaneously attacking and defending DOMA in court.

=Endangered Species Act Causes Drought
Sometimes the Feds have weird priorities. You can relate this to health care if you want.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Co-op Sucker Punch?

By now you've probably seen the news: White House appears ready to drop 'public option.' This is great news, right?

But if the "public option" is being replaced by "co-ops," we need to ask if they're really different or if this is just "rebranding."

So far the prescription is $3-4 billion "seed money," which, ala Fannie Mae, would
"provide a lower cost of capital than private firms and an implicit claim on any other money the co-ops need. The feds may also exempt co-ops from the taxes that private insurers pay, which average about 1.2% of premiums. This would let co-ops offer lower prices and poach customers with government-subsidized premiums."
So, the government can still use regulation to undercut private insurance and push people into the co-ops. Depending on how much government control the co-ops have, this could quickly turn into the public option, and we're really back to square one.

Remember that many Democratic officials have already said publicly that the "public option" was simply a road to a single payer system. As one commentator put it, "[the public option] was never more than a means to an end. If this means isn’t working, they’ll find one that will."

Does that mean that co-ops are irredeemable? I don't think so. What we need is to keep government money and control to a minimum.

1) They should simply specify the policy they want and let the market produce it. No regulations, just say, "This is what we'll buy."

2) No artificially low premiums. That's not to say we can't give need-based assistance on premiums, but a person's unsubsidized premium should be based on the market, not on government price controls.

3) No price fixing. Let these co-ops negotiate their prices just like any other insurance company. If prices get too high, then the feds have to find a cheaper insurer.

4) People who buy into the co-op should get to use pre-tax dollars or get a tax-credit for it.

If the co-ops are constructed properly, they would be what many conservatives have wanted for years -- allowing people to form groups to buy health insurance as a collective across state lines to get the best prices. The only thing that's stood in their way for years has been federal law. Maybe now we can try some real conservative solutions to our government-created health care mess.

But is that what we have here? I doubt it. So, as others have pointed out, this is not the time to rest on our laurels. Keep the pressure on. Let Congress know that a "co-op" that is nothing more than a public option is not acceptable.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Headlines 8/14/09

=Senators exclude end-of-life provision from bill
Yeah, but watch out for the conference report.

=The ‘Preventive Care’ Myth
Turns out prevention doesn't necessarily save much money. Darn. I was actually with the Prez on this one.

=What to Do with the Uninsured
A novel approach to making the voluntarily uninsured responsible for their own care.

=Liberals Boycott Whole Foods
When conservatives do it, they get ridiculed, but Mackey should have expected this.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Headlines 8/13/09

=Reading a Bill 101

=Healthy examples: Plenty of countries get healthcare right.
Of course, our pols are on record saying the "public option" should evolve into single-payer.

Still, this is worth talking about. Not every country's health care system is the train wreck that Canada's is. What can we borrow from them?

=The Truth About Health Insurance
"If you develop an expensive condition such as cancer or heart disease, and then get fired or divorced or your employer goes out of business—then individual insurance is going to be very expensive if it's available. But what the President and Democrats won't tell you is that these problems are the result mainly of government intervention."
(...as with so many things.)

=The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare: Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

So much good stuff here, but I want to highlight this:
"Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor's Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.

"At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments."
Apparently they don't think the government is the best source for their health care.

Mess Makers

I've already briefly commented on the President's statement that those who created our health care mess shouldn't do a lot of talking, but it still sticks in my craw, so I'd like to elaborate a bit.

4Our employer-based health insurance system arose because of wage controls created by Congress.

4It was further strengthened when Congress made employer contributions to health insurance tax free.

4Congress made it illegal for most people to buy health insurance across state lines, keeping people from finding the cheapest coverage.

4Congress created Medicare and Medicaid which mimicked the employer system in hiding medical costs from the patient.

4When the system they created got out of control, Congress created the HMO.

Given the raging success they've had in the past, why would we want them to create another health care system?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Checking the Fact Checkers

I'm glad there are professional "fact checkers" in the media, even if I don't always believe they're as non-partisan as they claim. But sometimes the fact checking is, whether intentionally or not, excessively literal. 

For instance, one piece run on Yahoo!
Phrases like "euthanasia," "socialized health care" and "rationing" are still being bandied about. (None of which are in the health-care bill, by the way.)
It's true that those terms don't appear in the bills in question. Opponents of those bills don't claim that they're in there. They claim they're the natural result of what's in there.

For example, the current bills tend to call for insurance "exchanges" for people without employer-based health insurance. Those employers who don't provide such insurance would have to be a fee for their employees who are in the system, but those who have insurance can continue to offer their current program.

But if the government raises the requirements for private insurance, raising the cost of providing it, and lowers the fee to put your employees in the exchange, more companies will find it more cost effective to drop their insurance. As this continues, insurance companies will go out of business, further raising prices, putting more and more people into the exchanges. End result? A single-payer health care system (commonly referred to as "socialized medicine").

And though the president claims this is not the result he wants, in the past he explicitly said the opposite, and so have many other Democratic lawmakers.

Rationing and euthanasia are the same -- likely results of the current legislation rather actual line items.

So when you read "fact check" pieces, read them with a certain grain of salt.

And if you oppose the steady march to single-payer health care, be sure to let your Congressmen, both Democrat and Republican, know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Insurance: Perspective

Part of the reason health insurance is so expensive is what we expect it to do.

If car insurance worked like health insurance, it would pay for your oil changes or at least fix a transmission.

If homeowners insurance worked like health insurance, it would paint your house.

It might sound good, but how much would that cost? These things cover catastrophic, or at least major, losses -- theft of a car or death in an accident, houses that burn down or lose a roof.

If health insurance didn't have to cover fertility treatments, acne medication, and viagra, it would be much more affordable. If we pay for our own minor illnesses (e.g., pink eye, ingrown toenails), it can be cheaper still.

Make it pay for everything for everybody, and even government won't be able to afford it.
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