Liberal Dems best take this health-care deal

Barring a sudden change of fortunes — either the taxpayers’ good fortunes or those of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — liberal Democrats won’t be able to push through the radical remake of the nation’s health care system as they’d proposed.

Centrist Democrats, the so-called Blue Dogs who represent states and districts where the parties are still competitive, balked. In the Senate, three Democrats and three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee are working a bill that would drop the government “insurance” option in favor of a “nonprofit cooperative” that would sell insurance.  Gone, too, is a provision that invited large companies to dump medical costs onto taxpayers, though high-dollar benefits may be taxed at 35 percent and companies will be taxed to ”reimburse the government” for the subsidies that would go to those whose income is less than 300 percent of poverty.

Insurance companies would be barred from denying coverage to any applicant and they could not charge higher premiums for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

A commission, something akin the the base-closing commission used to eliminate excess military facilities, would be created to curtail future Medicare costs.

The radicals within the Democratic Party are incensed that the Blue Dogs have denied them an opportunity to overreach.  Frankly, what the six Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee are proposing is considerably far-reaching.  It creates a huge new welfare entitlement and, for the most part, hides the cost.  Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums for pre-existing conditions means that those higher costs are spread among other policy-holders.  The subsidies for those whose income is less than 300 percent of poverty,  $66, 150 for a family of  four,  will essentially establish a welfare base that reaches into the middle class. Everybody will be required to have insurance.

The proposal coming out of the Senate Finance Committee is the best chance liberal Dems have of getting ObamaCare this year.  When members of Congress go home and hear from constitutents who are now getting the word on the full impact of what the Pelosi Democrats are doing, support will soften even further.

Democrats don’t need any Republicans to pass the proposed monstrosity.  But I promise you that they don’t want their party’s legacy to be a complete federal takeover of health care in America.

234 comments Add your comment

sharecropper

July 28th, 2009
10:47 am

Mr. Wooten: what in the world is it about you wingnuts, who have damaged this country more since idiot Reagan in 1980 than all the almost 200 years preceding, that you have to practice such intellectual dishonest, get in bed with insurance companies, demand “bipartisanship” as soon as you lose power, deign to advise — as world losers — the winners on how to govern, though throwing the country into massive debt and two wars? Is it in the genes? You and I both know the “Blue Dogs” are Republicans who run as Democrats in predominantly Democratic districts. You and I both know that no Republican, despite 160 of their “amendments” a transparent effort to kill health care for Americans, will never vote for the bill because Republicans are both moral and physical cowards, scared to death of you wingnuts and bobbleheads. I would say shame, but we’re talking about Limbo Republicans: after you get so low we swear you can’t get lower, you do.

jt

July 28th, 2009
10:49 am

Jim- You touted-

“Insurance companies would be barred from denying coverage to any applicant and they could not charge higher premiums for those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

When an “insurance” company is coercised( at the end of a gun) into accepting anyone in any condition, that “insurance” company ceases to be one.

I don’t know what you call it, but I do know that it will be a huge slush fund for the politically connected.

whatever

July 28th, 2009
10:54 am

okay, maybe i am confused (and that is admittedly a good possibility).

1) where is health care coverage a right?
2) where in my contract with the insurance company does it say that they have to provide me with coverage in all instances?

somehow, along the line, we forgot that insurance companies were for-profit entities. we sign contracts with them. if you dont want health care coverage that they provide, dont pay. its that simple.

now, here go the leftists that say, “see, this is why we need government run healthcare.” first, even biden admitted about 10 years ago (when hitlary was trying to push her plan) that there would need to be rationing. Second, anyone that believes that a government organization is run better than a private one should really run off a cliff. third, anyone that believes that the government beuracrats running the plan wont create an even more corrupt organization should follow those people and run off a cliff.

before we get into whether or not healthcare can/should be fixed, we should have really spent the time to figure out a lot of things. first, what would a reasonable cost of healthcare be. second, what are the inefficiencies in the system. third, what are the “relationships” that increase the cost of healthcare. do malpractice lawsuits actually increase or decrease the cost of health insurance.

the problem with the materials out there being relied upon by both sides is that there are a lot of assumptions. it takes time, and the dems dont want to do that because it would hurt them in the 2010 elections. the republicans dont care, dont have a plan, but just oppose the dem plan because that is what they are supposed to do according the the RNC.

Will

July 28th, 2009
10:56 am

Mr. Wooten:

I believe the governors of South Carolina and Alaska have provided our candidates for governor of Georgia with teachable moments this summer.

I have asked the following questions of these candidates:

1. Are you willing to make a “fidelity” pledge to the citizens of Georgia? Have you engaged in any type of sinful affair outside your marriage while an elected official and will you pledge to spare the state from unwanted and humiliting attention by resigning from office if you do so while governor of Georiga?

2. Do you agree with former governor Palin that a lame duck gubernatorial term is spent mostly on junkets and and accomplishes very little?

3. Will you pledge to complete your elected term no matter your personal or fiscal ambitions?

4. Will you pledge not to let your perceived enemies run you from office, no matter how many complaints they may file or no matter how much they hurt your feelings?

5. If you break your pledge of completing your term in office for any of the above reasons, will you pledge to reimburse the citizens who contributed to your campaign and who assumed they were giving you money so that you could govern the state for the full term?

I’ll let you know the answers to my questions. I will assume any gubernatorial candidate who fails to respond is not willing to make these pledges.

Disgusted

July 28th, 2009
10:57 am

If insurance companies can’t deny coverage maybe they’ll shift a little of their spending to preventative care.

Think again. I worked in the insurance industry for almost 20 years. Insurance rates are based on actuarial tables and rates based on insurability. In other words, they’re based on actual experience with hundreds of thousands of cases. Think of it this way: if you’re offering a group health plan, you’re basing rates on previous experience with groups of a similar composition. You know you may have one or two people among 500 who may require $200,000 in medical expenses for a given year, but the remainder will require only standard care, for which you price.

Now throw in mandatory coverage for six people with advanced cancer, two with AIDs, and 80 with severe diabetes. Your standard rate will no longer work. The only way you can cover expenses and still make a profit is to raise the rate charged to everybody. And that’s exactly what will happen with mandatory coverage. I’m not against universal coverage. But those who share my concern with extending coverage to everybody, regardless of preexisting conditions, should be prepared to pay more for their own coverage. A focus on preventive care will go only so far to reduce your insurance expenses.

Jake

July 28th, 2009
10:58 am

billie bob – That’s going to be Rahm Emmanuel’s brother’s job. Of course he’ll have great care while denying it to others, which makes the Dems in power a lot like the Repubs if you ask me. Oh and 62 might be a tad young for denial of care but after more like 75 you shouldn’t get it unless you can pay for it.

The real issue

July 28th, 2009
10:58 am

I think everyone agrees that the healthcare system in this country is broken. However, a goverment run program is not the way to fix the problem. Imagine this and lets us Obama’s numbers: What happens the day 47 million Americans who were under insured or not insured get healthcare? The majority of them will run to a doctor or emergency room for care. In some cases, its legit. But the majority of cases will be suspect. Imagine the cost to this country the first day, let alone decades from now.

My belief is that we will never get control of rising healthcare cost until we make people responsible for their own healthcare decisions. Also, we need to pull together a bill that provides more choice at a affordable rate. By allowing insurers the ablity to compete for our dollars across state lines would increase competition and bring pricing down.

Just my two cents.

Tray

July 28th, 2009
10:59 am

No Deegee, I’m upset because there are tons of idiots who elected an idiot who has fixed nothing and is making it worse!

jacksmith

July 28th, 2009
11:00 am

LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY. (Thomas Paine)

We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world. Conservative estimates are that over 120,000 of you dies each year in America from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. This is what being 37th in quality of healthcare means.

I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. A trillion dollar taxpayer funded private health insurance bailout is all you really get without a robust government-run public option available on day one. Co-OP’s ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION. They are a fraud being pushed by the GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry.

YOU CANT HAVE AN INSURANCE MANDATE WITHOUT A ROBUST PUBLIC OPTION. MANDATING PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE AS YOUR ONLY CHOICE WOULD BE UNETHICAL, CORRUPT, AND MORALLY REPUGNANT. AND PROBABLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS WELL.

These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will help you feel better too.

There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

You have been AMAZING!!! my people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. :-)

God Bless You

jacksmith — Working Class

I REST MY CASE (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

* Richard Shelby of Alabama
* Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
* John McCain of Arizona
* Mel Martinez of Florida
* Johnny Isakson of Georgia
* Mike Crapo of Idaho
* Chuck Grassley of Iowa
* Sam Brownback of Kansas
* Jim Bunning of Kentucky
* David Vitter of Louisiana
* Kit Bond of Missouri
* Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
* Richard Burr of North Carolina
* George Voinovich of Ohio
* Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
* Jim DeMint of South Carolina
* John Thune of South Dakota
* Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
* Bob Bennett of Utah

Matilda

July 28th, 2009
11:02 am

How are you going to feel when Nancy and her gang is the one deciding if your 62 year old father is worthy of the life saving procedure?

D’OH! Who makes that decision NOW? Either your or your 62-year-old father have the funds in the bank to pay for the procedure yourselves (if so, goody goody for you; you are excused from this discussion) or RANDOM INSURANCE EXECUTIVES make that decision FOR you. And believe those privately-employed insurance executives care more about their department’s bottom line, and their resulting year-end bonuses, than whether your father lives or dies. FACT: Insurance companies look for any and every reason to deny claims for life-saving procedures… EVERY DAY…. to people who paid their premiums for years and thought they were covered.

Omitting this part of the equation is overtly dishonest, and I’m tired of people like you telling be to “Ooooooooo! Ooooooooo! BE AFRAID!” of something that might be, while ignoring what IS.

Jake

July 28th, 2009
11:03 am

Disgusted – That’s only true if all the uninsured are higher risk than the average currently insured. While there are some currently uninsurable due to high risk most of the uninsured are illegals, poor, children, and young adults aren’t they?

Da Guy

July 28th, 2009
11:05 am

@ Tray. Please provide a link to your comment that 25% of those without health care are illegals. Would love to include that info in a study I’m assisting with.

Jake

July 28th, 2009
11:06 am

jacksmith – A lot of that 37th ranking by WHO from 2000 is based on the 47 million uninsured. For high end quality health care there is none finer than ours, if you can afford it. Rich people from around the world have come to places like the Cleveland Clinic for years.

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:07 am

btw, all insurance premium increases by insurance companies in this state need to be approved by the insurance commissioner. its not like the insurance companies can just do it. this is something i am not happy with, as it was shown that oxendine received a large campaign donation from, you guessed it, an employee of an insurance company. wow. like i said before, these types of relationships need to be vetted out and quashed. my fear once this national healthcare plan goes active is that the lobbyist who we so hate will become the most important people in washington. i dont know about you, but i dont have the money to pay a lobbyist to work on my behalf. in the soviet union, connected members of the party always received better healthcare than the rest of the people because they were connected. equal…not really.

Chris Broe

July 28th, 2009
11:07 am

Grading Wooten. “Barring a sudden change in fortunes – either the taxpayer’s good fortunes or those of….liberal democrats wont be able to push through the radical remake…..as they proposed.”

Sure, I followed that paragraph along…what kind of hillbonics was that? I challenge any troll here to restate Wooten’s paragraph properly. If you succeed, then I will formally apologize to Mr. Woo, of China. (This is me not worried.)

C+

JF McNamara

July 28th, 2009
11:08 am

Yes, the plan will cost more today, but we will be transitioning to a system that has proven cheaper in every other Country. Unless we are somehow lesser than Europe, we should be able to work through the issues and get it to work.

I’m not listening to stupid politicians. I just understand that nothing is free and the system we have now is taking more and more money out of my pocket every year. Isn’t a rise in my current healthcare premium a tax? You can sue your insurance company, and I’ll pay for it with higher premiums.

HC Costs have risen 78% since 2001. As more and more people are priced out of insurance, the cost/taxes the insured have will rise because someone has to pay for the larger amount of uninsured. The middle class pays for this anyway just in a hidden manner. The option is not status quo versus higher priced government healthcare. It’s higher priced private healthcare versus higher priced government healthcare.

I tend to believe the government as a competitor will help lower prices over time.

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:09 am

jacksmith, if i recall correctly, didnt the dems control both houses for two years prior to obama taking over? wasnt it barney frank who pushed lower lending standards on home mortgages, and is doing so now with condo mortgages?

both parties are at fault this for this mess.

Disgusted

July 28th, 2009
11:10 am

Jake@11:03: Believe me, those who are collectively and currently uninsured will represent a higher insurance risk than those who are collectively insured. Sheer lack of regular medical care will have allowed diseases to advance. The more advanced a disease, the more expensive it is to treat.

Jake

July 28th, 2009
11:10 am

Da guy – google uninsured americans and you’ll get plenty of info. The one I looked at says 80% are native or naturalized but that still leaves 20% or 9 million illegals.

lobbyist

July 28th, 2009
11:11 am

Everytime anyone who speaks against the public option it will be nice to have how much money ther are getting from Healthcare Lobbyist next to their name.

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:15 am

JF, please explain to me how the government will be a competitor when they can print all the money they want, run deficits in the trillions, make laws that favor their position, and regulate their competitors? that is not competition, that is a slaughter.

Jake

July 28th, 2009
11:16 am

Disgusted – You’re probably right, but there are a lot of seemingly healthy people that are uninsured because they work for small companies that don’t offer coverage and private plans are too expensive for those with little income. The source I looked at, NCHC, says 40% have household incomes above $50K and that 18-24 year olds are the most likely to be uninsured.

billy bob from cobb

July 28th, 2009
11:16 am

I guess it would piss most of you off to know I sell health insurance and have made over 1mil a year for the last 5 years.

TISH

July 28th, 2009
11:17 am

With the Obama health plan it seems as they want to exterminate the Senior population. Shades of Hitler is what I think.

Jack

July 28th, 2009
11:17 am

Amount spent on healthcare per head of population by US & UK governments in 2007:

UK NHS: $2,418.79 (1,475.41 pounds)
US Medicaid/are: $2,192.48 (1,337.23 pounds)

You already pay enough in taxes to afford full health coverage for everyone. If you don’t believe me, look it up.

You don’t actually GET cover for everyone for those taxes, because your broken system encourages profiteering and pushes prices up. Why do you think drugs are cheaper in Canada? It’s not because the drugs are different in any way. You aren’t getting better quality, you’re just paying more. The quality of care in the UK is actually better than in the US, with NHS healthcare ranked 18th in the world and the US ranked 37th.

Educate yourself before you comment, and especially before you vote.

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:18 am

wouldn’t make me mad. good for you billy bob!!

WBK

July 28th, 2009
11:18 am

Will

July 28th, 2009
10:56 am
How about I keep you in court for years? Can you afford this? This is legal terrorism! It should happen to you because I believe in equal opportunity.

Hey you want inexpensive or government healthcare? Serve twenty years with the federal government or the military and you will have it. Good idea?

lobbyist

July 28th, 2009
11:19 am

TISH, Wow you are ignorant. Please don’t have any kids and screw up the future of this country.

confused

July 28th, 2009
11:22 am

jacksmith, i’m confused…..it’s all the Republicans fault? The Democrats control the whitehouse, the house, and the senate. there are not enough republicans to stop ANY legislation that democrats want to pass?? so before you launch into blaming republicans, look at the democratically controlled washington, d.c…….and one other note, poor BO inherited a terrible mess? let’s refresh memories, the democrats have controlled congress for the past four years now, not just this year, and our great leader was helping out in the senate, too.

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:23 am

Jack: you do know the major issues with the report that you are relying upon, right?

WBK

July 28th, 2009
11:25 am

lobbyist

July 28th, 2009
11:19 am
Why is TISH statement ignorant? Can you provide a link for that?

basementfrog

July 28th, 2009
11:25 am

The healthcare issue in the US points to only one fact: our politicians are corrupt and only into the political business for their personal financial reward.

A simple medical program with a single payer able to walk into any medical office and get help at minimal cost is impossible in the US because politicians must figure in a method of exploitation and abuse masked in an elaborate, confusing construct. Corruption by design for the benefit of a few who exploit the many. It is a convenient lie that our system is just too complex.

Here it is for the brain dead laid out: individual goes to any doctor; doctor has access to any persons medical records; doctor finds problem and recommends treatment; patient gets treatment; the bill is sent to a processing center at the state level, but run by the fed; the bill is paid no questions asked. The price for medicine and procedures are set by the government; The individual does not need to pay extra, just their monthly payment for insurance – lets say $150 per adult and $50 per child per month. 100 Percent coverage. Private, for profit healthcare is finished.

The opponents say “this will cost $1 trillion over 10 years.”

Are you kidding me? The is $100 billion per year. That’s peanut for a national system of healthcare affordable to all people Americans. Kinda like what politicians and state and federal employees enjoy now, but available to all.

A week ago the opponents of healthcare due to cost actually supported the purchase of 5 presidental helicopters for $470 billion dollars and the purchase of 7 fighter jets for $100 billion each. that’s $1.2 tillion for the mathmatically challenged. And the president said he didn’t want or need the 5 new helicopters and Gates and a few honest generals said the planes were out-dated and useless. Yet, the order was being pushed along by the opponents of healthcare despited the waste of money.

Why are the opponents so willing to buy useless and unnecessary equipment for defense contractors, but refuse to direct that money to establishing an honest, simple healthcare system for all americans?

Graft; it’s just that simple. The ability to buy over priced equipment with payoffs going to contractors and politicians’ offshare bank accounts alike is blatant and massively lucrative.

Without build in corrpution for stealing tax payer dollars, nothing in the US will get past by the legislative body, the House or Senate. “What is in it for me” is the rule of the game in DC (at state levels, too).

The open, blatant theft of US tax payer dollars by corrupt elected officials is at the base of every decision.

Our country is plagued by cheats, liars, and theives.

But if you want proof: $350 billion in tax dollars owed by the very rich (people with incomes over a million a year). Close all offshore accounts, turn the IRS loose on rich tax cheats and collect that $350 billion per year for the benefit of providing healthcare for all.

That will more that pay for it.

Just get any politician to try closing and collecting on those accounts.

Right!

That’s cutting their own ablility to cheat US tax payers and hide their lucrative dealings with lobbyists.

TISH

July 28th, 2009
11:26 am

LIBERAL, I SERVED FORTY YEARS IN THE MILITARY AND AM ONE OF MILLIONS OF SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN THAT GAVE YOU A FUTURE!!!!

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:26 am

lobbyist, although i disagree with TISHs characterization, like i said before, Biden has stated such on the record. now, i know biden is the last person anyone should be taking at face value, but when he pulls his head out of his you know what, sometimes, through his moronic comments, he brings a shred of truth.

Sam

July 28th, 2009
11:26 am

i know 5 unemployed people who pick up their free checks and go buy pot…

Sounds good. where do I sign up?

yeah right

July 28th, 2009
11:27 am

Health care is stillborn. Sorry libiots.

dave

July 28th, 2009
11:27 am

To all you progressive “birds” who post here, I know you still won’t “get it”

545 PEOPLE
By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them!

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

100 Senators, 435 Congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices— 545 human beings out of the 300 million — are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board, because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party. What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.

Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi.She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army and the Marines are in IRAQ , it’s because they want them in IRAQ .

If they do not receive Social Security, but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation”, or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people, who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Northern Songs, Ltd.

July 28th, 2009
11:27 am

I’m late to the party as usual

GET REAL @ 9:12 — You hit the nail on the head!! Please keep repeating that post once an hour – maybe the nutters here will finally get a clue.

Aj

July 28th, 2009
11:27 am

jacksmith, you are a moron! If you think the health care system is so bad here go to Canada or Europe! I don’t see people running to those countries to have operations.

lobbyist

July 28th, 2009
11:27 am

WBK, First show me how Obama is acting like Hitler? If you can then I will say sorry to TISH.

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:29 am

If you read the fine print in the Congressional plans, you’ll find that a lot of cherished aspects of the current system would disappear.

In promoting his health-care agenda, President Obama has repeatedly reassured Americans that they can keep their existing health plans — and that the benefits and access they prize will be enhanced through reform.

A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Health committee, contradict the President’s assurances. To be sure, it isn’t easy to comb through their 2,000 pages of tortured legal language. But page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage.

If you prize choosing your own cardiologist or urologist under your company’s Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO), if your employer rewards your non-smoking, healthy lifestyle with reduced premiums, if you love the bargain Health Savings Account (HSA) that insures you just for the essentials, or if you simply take comfort in the freedom to spend your own money for a policy that covers the newest drugs and diagnostic tests — you may be shocked to learn that you could lose all of those good things under the rules proposed in the two bills that herald a health-care revolution.

In short, the Obama platform would mandate extremely full, expensive, and highly subsidized coverage — including a lot of benefits people would never pay for with their own money — but deliver it through a highly restrictive, HMO-style plan that will determine what care and tests you can and can’t have. It’s a revolution, all right, but in the wrong direction.

Let’s explore the five freedoms that Americans would lose under Obamacare:

1. Freedom to choose what’s in your plan

The bills in both houses require that Americans purchase insurance through “qualified” plans offered by health-care “exchanges” that would be set up in each state. The rub is that the plans can’t really compete based on what they offer. The reason: The federal government will impose a minimum list of benefits that each plan is required to offer.

Today, many states require these “standard benefits packages” — and they’re a major cause for the rise in health-care costs. Every group, from chiropractors to alcohol-abuse counselors, do lobbying to get included. Connecticut, for example, requires reimbursement for hair transplants, hearing aids, and in vitro fertilization.

The Senate bill would require coverage for prescription drugs, mental-health benefits, and substance-abuse services. It also requires policies to insure “children” until the age of 26. That’s just the starting list. The bills would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to add to the list of required benefits, based on recommendations from a committee of experts. Americans, therefore, wouldn’t even know what’s in their plans and what they’re required to pay for, directly or indirectly, until after the bills become law.

2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

As with the previous example, the Obama plan enshrines into federal law one of the worst features of state legislation: community rating. Eleven states, ranging from New York to Oregon, have some form of community rating. In its purest form, community rating requires that all patients pay the same rates for their level of coverage regardless of their age or medical condition.

Americans with pre-existing conditions need subsidies under any plan, but community rating is a dubious way to bring fairness to health care. The reason is twofold: First, it forces young people, who typically have lower incomes than older workers, to pay far more than their actual cost, and gives older workers, who can afford to pay more, a big discount. The state laws gouging the young are a major reason so many of them have joined the ranks of uninsured.

Under the Senate plan, insurers would be barred from charging any more than twice as much for one patient vs. any other patient with the same coverage. So if a 20-year-old who costs just $800 a year to insure is forced to pay $2,500, a 62-year-old who costs $7,500 would pay no more than $5,000.

Second, the bills would ban insurers from charging differing premiums based on the health of their customers. Again, that’s understandable for folks with diabetes or cancer. But the bills would bar rewarding people who pursue a healthy lifestyle of exercise or a cholesterol-conscious diet. That’s hardly a formula for lower costs. It’s as if car insurers had to charge the same rates to safe drivers as to chronic speeders with a history of accidents.

3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

The bills threaten to eliminate the one part of the market truly driven by consumers spending their own money. That’s what makes a market, and health care needs more of it, not less.

Hundreds of companies now offer Health Savings Accounts to about 5 million employees. Those workers deposit tax-free money in the accounts and get a matching contribution from their employer. They can use the funds to buy a high-deductible plan — say for major medical costs over $12,000. Preventive care is reimbursed, but patients pay all other routine doctor visits and tests with their own money from the HSA account. As a result, HSA users are far more cost-conscious than customers who are reimbursed for the majority of their care.

The bills seriously endanger the trend toward consumer-driven care in general. By requiring minimum packages, they would prevent patients from choosing stripped-down plans that cover only major medical expenses. “The government could set extremely low deductibles that would eliminate HSAs,” says John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market research group. “And they could do it after the bills are passed.”

4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

This is the freedom that the President keeps emphasizing. Yet the bills appear to say otherwise. It’s worth diving into the weeds — the territory where most pundits and politicians don’t seem to have ventured.

The legislation divides the insured into two main groups, and those two groups are treated differently with respect to their current plans. The first are employees covered by the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974. ERISA regulates companies that are self-insured, meaning they pay claims out of their cash flow, and don’t have real insurance. Those are the GEs and Time Warners and most other big companies.

The House bill states that employees covered by ERISA plans are “grandfathered.” Under ERISA, the plans can do pretty much what they want — they’re exempt from standard packages and community rating and can reward employees for healthy lifestyles even in restrictive states.

But read on.

The bill gives ERISA employers a five-year grace period when they can keep offering plans free from the restrictions of the “qualified” policies offered on the exchanges. But after five years, they would have to offer only approved plans, with the myriad rules we’ve already discussed. So for Americans in large corporations, “keeping your own plan” has a strict deadline. In five years, like it or not, you’ll get dumped into the exchange. As we’ll see, it could happen a lot earlier.

The outlook is worse for the second group. It encompasses employees who aren’t under ERISA but get actual insurance either on their own or through small businesses. After the legislation passes, all insurers that offer a wide range of plans to these employees will be forced to offer only “qualified” plans to new customers, via the exchanges.

The employees who got their coverage before the law goes into effect can keep their plans, but once again, there’s a catch. If the plan changes in any way — by altering co-pays, deductibles, or even switching coverage for this or that drug — the employee must drop out and shop through the exchange. Since these plans generally change their policies every year, it’s likely that millions of employees will lose their plans in 12 months.

5. Freedom to choose your doctors

The Senate bill requires that Americans buying through the exchanges — and as we’ve seen, that will soon be most Americans — must get their care through something called “medical home.” Medical home is similar to an HMO. You’re assigned a primary care doctor, and the doctor controls your access to specialists. The primary care physicians will decide which services, like MRIs and other diagnostic scans, are best for you, and will decide when you really need to see a cardiologists or orthopedists.

Under the proposals, the gatekeepers would theoretically guide patients to tests and treatments that have proved most cost-effective. The danger is that doctors will be financially rewarded for denying care, as were HMO physicians more than a decade ago. It was consumer outrage over despotic gatekeepers that made the HMOs so unpopular, and killed what was billed as the solution to America’s health-care cost explosion.

The bills do not specifically rule out fee-for-service plans as options to be offered through the exchanges. But remember, those plans — if they exist — would be barred from charging sick or elderly patients more than young and healthy ones. So patients would be inclined to game the system, staying in the HMO while they’re healthy and switching to fee-for-service when they become seriously ill. “That would kill fee-for-service in a hurry,” says Goodman.

In reality, the flexible, employer-based plans that now dominate the landscape, and that Americans so cherish, could disappear far faster than the 5 year “grace period” that’s barely being discussed.

Companies would have the option of paying an 8% payroll tax into a fund that pays for coverage for Americans who aren’t covered by their employers. It won’t happen right away — large companies must wait a couple of years before they opt out. But it will happen, since it’s likely that the tax will rise a lot more slowly than corporate health-care costs, especially since they’ll be lobbying Washington to keep the tax under control in the righteous name of job creation.

The best solution is to move to a let-freedom-ring regime of high deductibles, no community rating, no standard benefits, and cross-state shopping for bargains (another market-based reform that’s strictly taboo in the bills). I’ll propose my own solution in another piece soon on Fortune.com. For now, we suffer with a flawed health-care system, but we still have our Five Freedoms. Call them the Five Endangered Freedoms.

Copyrighted, Fortune. All rights reserved.

Redneck Convert (R--And proud of it)

July 28th, 2009
11:30 am

Well, this guvmint health care is going to ruin all of us. Not just the cost. I expect we’ll be seeing funeral home hearses in the basement of every hospitle. If some old codger comes in and they decide he costs too much they’ll just give him a little shot and wheel him down to the basement and let the hearses haul him out. I can see the looks on old peoples faces now. The hospitle? O no, not the hospitle!

confused

July 28th, 2009
11:32 am

Dave @ 11:27, WELL SAID, and 100% TRUE!!!!

crazy joe

July 28th, 2009
11:32 am

WTF!!! Wooten’s still alive!!!! DANGGGGG the devil really DOES take care of his own!!

Jake

July 28th, 2009
11:34 am

billie bob – Better get to lobbying, sounds like your commission is one of those wasteful inefficiencies that will be eliminated! But as long as you can get it, enjoy.

WBK

July 28th, 2009
11:34 am

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:29 am
Good information! I wonder if the progressive liberals can get the same message I get from it. Probably not!!

lobbyist

July 28th, 2009
11:36 am

WBK,

Are you ignoring me? Maybe you agree TISH was ignorant too now.

They used ta call me crazy joe now they call me the bat man!

July 28th, 2009
11:37 am

Hawaii says that Obama really WAS born there in 1961. HA!!! I know for a fact, that he was actually born in Canada in 1971!!! His mom, was carrying him the ABORTED him in 61 THEN in 1971 she decided to recarry him. While on a trip to Kansas, his mom, who has bad eyesight and bad directions, made a wrong turn into Canada and six minutes after crossing the border into Canada, she gave birth to that black man!!! THEN came to find out that SHE wasn’t really a US citizen either!!! She was born in Cambodia while her father was there in the military. But HE wasn’t a citizen either!!! He BECAME a citizen AFTER her birth!!! Her mother was NEVER a citizen of the US — she came from Switzerland and refused to take US Citizenship!!!

That’s the truth folks!! So help me, that’s the truth!!!

eagle scout

July 28th, 2009
11:38 am

I wonder if Judge Sonia Sotomayor can produce a birth certificate? Hmmmmmmm…..

I hope Lou Dobbs and Rush are all over this!

whatever

July 28th, 2009
11:38 am

what is amazing is that, despite the numerous comments from both sides, we havent yet gone onto a second page.