On a Health Care Prediction

The situation – A conversation with a friend, who is a self-proclaimed political pundit

The timing – Approximately a month ago, but it was before Congress passed the health care bill

My Series of Predictions

  1. The Democrats will pass a health care bill.
  2. Republicans will campaign to repeal it.
  3. Republicans will gain control of Congress as Independents back them because Democrats did not listen.
  4. Republicans successfully repeal the bill, and then replace it with what they think is best.
  5. Independents vote out the Republicans because they did not listen either.

Analysis

  • My friend (the self-proclaimed political pundit) said it would not happen because the Democrats did not have the votes to pass the bill.
  • For me, two check marks.

On the (Yawn) Health Insurance Debate

Discussions about health insurance reform continue through newspapers, blogs, news, and radio/TV talk shows – even a few sensible ones. Meanwhile, as President Obama is attempting to push the process forward, it’s time for a look by a voice of reason.

Point 1: At first, I saw President Obama making his insurance plan public before the summit with the Republicans as a major faux pas. Upon further review, he posted in advance simply to show that he listened to the other party. In other words, he went into the “summit” knowing what he would add. In other words, I’m not buying the appearance of compromise.

Point 2: To discover the rationale behind the positions of both parties, all one has to examine is their respective donor list. Ask yourself these questions: Why are Democrats against tort reform? Why are Republicans against controlling costs? Why is neither party focusing on what is best for people?

Point 3: Because of their bully-pulpit tactics, the Democrats have politically backed themselves into a corner with a no-win situation thinking they are giving the people what they want. As Mr. President pushes the bill toward reconciliation, the Republicans are licking the chomps because they seeing opportunities for them – not for the people. Besides, they are enjoying watching Speaker Pelosi leading her flock of lemmings toward the cliff. Does anyone think she will jump?

Conclusion: Two things are certain: continual health insurance debate takes away time from discussions about the economy in terms of jobs, and the both President Obama and the Democratic leadership have talked this supporter of health insurance reform into an opponent. Sorry Republicans, I’m not on your side either.

Meanwhile, here are some good columns on the mess.

On Renewing the Health Insurance Debate

As Democrats unsuccessfully ramming their health insurance plan through and while Republicans remained obstinate to changes, the situation of citizens remains the same: people with pre-existing conditions cannot get coverage, people using health insurance still face rising premiums, many employers continue to shift more health insurance responsibility to employees, and many people are lack employment.

I know health-insurance Darwinists are out there – meaning they see insurance only for those who can afford it – of  course their tune changes with their situation – so they only get these few lines. Nonetheless, the majority of Americans still want something done. (USA Today poll).

Before mentioning my ideas, members of Congress must pledge to stop lying and distorting information. All truths and nothing but the truths! Since the pledge, lying, half-truths, and distortions is beyond their grasp, thus won’t happen, here are 10 ideas (in no particular order).

1) A national program without tort reform is quite stupid; however, national leadership must clearly inform the public that such tort reform would only affect litigation involving federal law through the federal courts – thus do not effect cases based on state laws in state courts. Currently, some states have already done tort reform, while others have not.

2) Denying insurance because of pre-existing conditions and raising premiums because of using insurance must stop.

3) No pork and no sweetheart deals as in Nebraska or Louisiana. Nada, none, zilch!

4) Remove the tax on the luxury plans. If employers want to offer better plans, so be it – well, as long as they offer to every employee. In other words, a luxury tax on exclusive plans within a company is acceptable.

5) Dramatically reduce the number of uninsured. The numbers I’m seeing from both sides of the aisle are too high. However, I appreciate USA Today’s thoughts on removing the requirement for purchasing health insurance.
“If someone refused to sign up but later got sick and sought coverage (which insurers would have to provide), that person might have to pay a year’s worth of premiums to get covered.”

6) Offer a three-ponged government option.

  • Allow states to opt out, thus offering their own solution if they so choose. However, no opting-out state who does not offer options may prevent its residents from buying into the federal plan
  • Allow insurance companies to cross state lines in order to participate in the federal plan that should offer a cooperative of private insurers competing against one another.
  • Allow the ability to purchase into the same plan provided to those in Congress. It not, Congress should eliminate their current plan and use the cooperative. To the pompous roaming the Capitol Hill halls, this is your chance to shine!

7) Many pro-choice voters will not mind excluding abortion funding from government-backed insurance. If the move gets more votes, so be it.

8) Stop blaming the health insurance companies because they are only one part of the issue. Since they are part of the equation, they may have some useful insight at controlling costs. Although one does not have to agree, here is an interesting WSJ article based on an interview with the WellPoint CEO.

9) Do not move people from Medicare into another program. Now is the perfect opportunity to examine the Medicare system to find wastes, abuses, and duplicate/conflicting programs that, if eliminated, would produce cost savings to the government without reducing coverage.

10) Develop a way to maximize use of tax-favored health saving accounts (HSAs) for everyone who wants one.

Oh well, let Washington get back to the rhetoric and self interests.

On the Health Insurance Merry-Go-Round

With the Massachusetts special election for senator upon us, it seems appropriate to write about health insurance.

Anyone thinking that Congress has the intestinal fortitude and wisdom to create meaningful health insurance reform would be a combination of dreaming and brainless bliss. Anyone thinking that the Republican Party was capable of such an act clearly demonstrates sheer stupidity. Anyone thinking that the Democratic Party could create an effective program without catering to special interests is stranded in a small boat many miles from shore while rowing into the wind with a set of toothpicks.

One side of me thinks that whatever the Democratic Congress agrees upon is better than what is currently in place. Maybe so, but ineffective legislators aside, the health insurance industry is the problem. It is the large, untamed elephant in the room. Great plan Congressional Sherlock – give it plenty of peanuts and build around it!

So, thanks to the Democratic Party for screwing up the chance to produce meaningful legislation that the public can support regarding a timely and meaningful issue. You have done well at convincing supporters to become turncoats. Several late-December columns examine the stench the Democrats created during the process. I do not agree with all of their points, but collectively through different points, they hit the nail on the head. Thank you David Brooks, David Broder, and Paul Krugman.

Also, thanks to the Republican Party for sticking to the same principle that you demonstrated during your power period (1995-2006). No matter what you say, you do not have interest in the matter, thus no need for a plan.

For readers, since everyone cites public opinion, here is the Gallup organization with some interesting numbers.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 39

On a Longer School Year
President Obama and others want to lengthen the school year by 40 days. Although I favor such a move as part of educational reform, let me pose these questions.

  • Should the Feds mandate something that is primarily controlled by state and local entities?
  • How much the public and the travel industry will fight to retain the status quo?
  • Why more time with the same outdated curriculum and industrial age standards?

On the Noble Peace Prize
I will admit that last week’s announcement struck me as surprising and confusing. Then again, after listening to the initial (especially the immediate) and continual criticism from the partisan opposition, I am more convinced than ever that they will mock anything and everything about President Obama – thus further alienating me and my moderate, independent vote. Meanwhile, and again I say – Congratulations Mr. President; plus, the Noble committee can do whatever – after all, it’s their award. This Thomas Friedman column is interesting on the matter.

On the Health Care Debate
Since the Congressional Budget Office seemingly declared the Bauchus proposal as deficit neutral, it’s been interesting to watch both parties and special interests apply their spin. I continue to be wary of the current Congress and their attraction to special interest needs and pork – therefore worries about the effectiveness and the efficiency of any bill – let alone one of this magnitude. In other words, will the final health care bill really and truly attack the problem? History says no. Here are three interesting columns: David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof’s first and second.

On Car Buys
I’m a long-time Cincinnati Reds fans, but the fact that Cincinnatians lead the nation in red car sales caught me by surprise. Although I don’t believe in a correlation between car color purchases and favorite sports teams, human behavior is a statistical goldmine. Here’s an article with lists.

On a Personal Note
I’ve taken on a major project in my work life that will decrease my writing and reading time. I’ll try to do what I can, but I know my blogging will suffer. Meanwhile, I’ll probably post in the evenings and try to keep going. Hope everyone has a good and safe weekend.

Before going, here’s a very short video demonstrating speed and agility.

On a Health Care Restart

President Obama addresses the nation and a joint session of Congress tonight about health care reform. I recently saw a poll showing 25% of Americans want Congress to start over health care legislation. So I ask “Why?” – Just so we can return to the same point of partisanship? So we can retrace Speaker Pelosi’s methodology on legislation? So we can continue to hear partisanship excuses? No thanks.

I have a novel idea – one that would be an innovative approach for Washington. Something that many Americans will appreciate – I said “many” because it is an approach that many partisans will not favor – but this approach could yield a meaningful solution. Instead of restarting the process, I suggest the Being Honest and Truthful approach to this important and complex issue.

Besides doing and saying whatever to make a point and get their way, our politicians (like us in life) misrepresent the facts by generalizing. Generalizations are broad summary-type statements that tend to be vague while appearing to by fact. Once one begins to generalize generalizations, the statement becomes further away from the truth.

Below are examples to support my point; and here are others from me, me again, and numerous statement regarding health care from PoltiFact Check.

Howard Dean (D, DNC)
“All the really great programs in American history, Social Security, were done without Republicans. Medicare was done without Republican support until the last vote where they realized they had to get on board.”
PolitiFact Rating: False, Explanation

Michael Steele (R, RNC)
“The Department of Veterans Affairs has “a manual out there telling our veterans stuff like, ‘Are you really of value to your community?’ You know, encouraging them to commit suicide.”
PolitiFact Rating: Pants on Fire, Explanation

Rush Limbaugh (R, Commentator)
“President Obama . . . wants to mandate circumcision.”
PolitiFact Rating: Pants on Fire, Explanation

Rep. John Boehner (R, OH)
“The health bill’s plan for comparative effectiveness research “would be used by the government to ration care.”
PolitiFact Rating: False, Explanation

President Obama (D)
“If we went back to the obesity rates that existed back in the 1980s, the Medicare system over several years could save as much as a trillion dollars.” PolitiFact Rating: False, Explanation

I recommending reading all the PolitiFact Check statements on health care reform to understand all the misconceptions that representatives from multiple sides are promoting.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center also provides fact-check information with Twenty-six Lies about H.R. 3200, clarification about government-funded abortions, a claim of additional breast cancer deaths,  a party-based claim about abolishing Medicare, big myths about health care, Michael Steele’s ad to seniors, a set of articles, and the FactCheck Wire with the latest updates.

On Opinions in the Short: Vol. 34

On PeteAnniversary
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of MLB’s banishment of Pete Rose from baseball. It must be the reason for the uptick of readings of this archived post.

On More Misinformation
As I stated in this recent post, health care debacle continues to be an ever-flowing fountain of misinformation. Here are a couple of more.

Rep Roy Blunt (R-Mo)
“I’m 59. In either Canada or Great Britain, if I broke my hip, I couldn’t get it replaced.”
PolitiFact Rating: Pants on Fire – PolitiFact Explanation

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt)
“We spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation on Earth.”
PolitiFact Rating: False – PolitiFact Comment: As long as Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Austria and others aren’t “nations on Earth” – PolitiFact Explanation

President Obama (D)
“If we went back to the obesity rates that existed back in the 1980s, the Medicare system over several years could save as much as a trillion dollars.”

PolitiFact Rating: False – PolitiFact Explanation

On Insurance Companies
Who do insurance companies represent: doctors, hospitals, or patients? The answer is none of them because their prime concern is to the shareholders via Wall Street. Dropping insurers, limiting coverage, and raising premiums are actions they do to maintain profits.

On the Economy
Now this is quite the paradox of 2 lives As Wall Street continues to be on a roll, the Americans continue to lose jobs and jobs remain difficult to find.

On the Pan Am Bomber’s Release
Last week’s release of the Pam Am bomber brought out the full range of emotions. On one hand I had a difficult time understanding the response by the Libyan people at the airport. On the other hand I understood Scotland’s compassion and the anger from many family members of victims. Given the different emotions, I kept thinking about the concept of forgiveness. It’s easy to seek, but difficult to grant. As a Christian I continually reminded of Pope John Paul II going to the prison to forgive the person who tried to kill him.

On Social Security Reduction
Recent news seems to indicate an upcoming reduction in social security payments. Not a surprise when considering the current number of unemployed. Let us remember that withholding only occurs on salaries up to $106,800; that’s approximately 25% of the minimum salary of a Major League Baseball player.