Monday, November 30, 2009

Mobile Site

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

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?


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'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 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?"

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.

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.

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:

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 least at first

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

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