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Healthcare: A conservative's perspective

Troy Keith, The Armchair ConservativeMost average citizens have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in political issues as complex as the healthcare debate, but recent events have prompted a resurgence of grassroots activism throughout the country.

For the most part, we've been comfortable allowing our elected officials to sort out the details of such things. We've trusted their motivations and had faith in their promise to uphold the values of the constituents placing them into office. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case. The political disconnect between Washington and Main Street continues to widen, and people have been forced to take their fights to the streets of cities and small towns throughout the country.

For the left, their feelings of unrest probably began around the time of the infamous "stolen election" of 2000, and the following eight years of untreated Bush Derangement Syndrome. Most on the right had been complacent during that time, but the once-silent majority has recently awakened to a brave new world, and they're pretty darn ticked off.

Is there a saturation point, or is this the new political diagnosis Americans will be forced to live with in the years ahead? Will future healthcare plans (government or private) cover ‘single payer psychosis' or ‘frozen brain syndrome' for anyone attempting to read this mind numbing 1,000-page monstrosity our Congress is putting forth?

We've been inundated with conflicting information from all sides; heart-wrenching stories of hopelessness, elderly people lining up to die with dignity, and radical claims of jack-booted government storm troopers with the occasional Nazi propagandist thrown in for good measure.

Does the truth rest peacefully somewhere in the middle, just waiting to be discovered? Is there a way to stitch this divide and heal the wounds inflicted by so many sharp words lobbed carelessly over political walls, or the onslaught of media shrapnel exploding from ourTV sets each night?

Sadly, no. I think war is inevitable, and peace will come only when we band together once again to sort through the rubble and pick up the pieces.

The labels come easy as Mr. Alinski has taught us (I'm still partial to "bitter clinger" although "racist Nazi" is always a close second); the difficult part is getting beyond all the rhetoric and actually examining the facts.

Admittedly, it can sometimes be difficult to sort out what's real and what's hype as the American College of Surgeons comments:

When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform.

Confronting the healthcare issue often leads down some obvious side roads and it's easy to get diverted from the basic conservative principles of smaller government, lower taxes and greater personal liberties. Things are easily brushed aside and dismissed when they do not conform to the specific templates of someone else's thinking — particularly given the fever amongst the politically uninformed these days.

Most conservatives understand exactly what Sarah Palin was referring to with her "death panels" comment, but such remarks are easily misconstrued and amount to little more than political fodder for the media and late night comedians. Although reported as yet another example of right-wing lunacy, it's strange that this "non-existent" item was officially dropped from the healthcare bill last week.

In the midst of all this controversy, we have numerous other distractions such as the White House "snitch list." The fact that our government has asked citizens to contact them when they encounter emails or casual conversations about healthcare that seem "fishy" does seem eerily strange given all the talk of Nazis being bantered about. Even the ACLU begrudgingly admitted this was "a bad idea that could send a troublesome message."

The action has absolutely nothing to do with the specifics of the healthcare debate; it's just wrong, "big-brotherish" and entirely unnecessary when we should be having open discussions on the more important issues facing our country. Although quickly dismissed by every liberal I've spoken with, you can bet your insurance cards that if GW Bush or Dick Cheney had started such a program, the left would still be having a conniption fit about it.

Sen. John Cornyn:

The question is not what the White House is doing, but how and why. How are they purging names and e-mail addresses from this account to protect privacy? Why do they need the forwarded e-mails, names, and ‘casual conversations’ sent to them instead of just the arguments that they want to rebut?

In the same vein, we have the OMB's recently proposed change in policy permitting the broad use of tracking cookies on government Web sites, the ACLU has filed suit on 8/10 stating that these changes "would pose a serious threat to American's personal information."

Acting ACLU director Michael Macleod-Ball states:

This is a sea change in government privacy policy. Without explaining this reversal of policy, the OMB is seeking to allow the mass collection of personal information of every user of a federal government website.

We have SEIU thugs intimidating townhall protesters after Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina told a group of Democratic senators: "If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard."

Downstate, SEIU members were bussed in for a healthcare rally at Rep. Mark Schauer’s office.

We have numerous instances of White House plants at various townhall gatherings such as the following:

Obama delegate and “Organize for America” member claims to be a sympathetic doctor (though she's not) at a Sheila Jackson Lee townhall meeting.

In Annandale, Va., Obama hugs one speaker and calls her "exhibit A" in a weak health care system. Turns out she is also a member of Organizing for America and received her ticket directly from the White House.

According to WND:

The questions posed from social media networks were selected by White House staffers, and the three people he called on from the audience all were affiliated with advocacy groups that support Obama. Smith said the White House invited her to attend after she had spoken at events for Organizing for America, an Obama grassroots operation at the Democratic National Committee. Another questioner said he worked for Health Care for America Now, and the third identified herself as a member of the Service Employees International Union.

Some are claiming that one man carrying an “Obama as Hitler” poster at a John Dingell rally actually works for Dingell.

None of this is related to the issue of healthcare, but if true, these tactics speak for themselves. This is an important subject, why all the obfuscation and misdirection? Again, we're traveling down one of those side roads.

I'm curious if those supporting the concept of government-controlled healthcare are really comfortable with the following quotes (now conveniently recanted) from President Obama's chief health-care policy adviser, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (Rahm's brother):

These are the condensed versions, full text here:

Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.

[the complete lives system] empowers us to decide fairly whom to save when genuine scarcity makes saving everyone impossible”

Treating 65-year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.

When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance.

Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration’s health-reform effort.

Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments.

Lest we forget, the president himself suggested during ABC's "White House forum on health" that he would go outside the constraints of a nationalized system to get the “very best care” if necessary for his own family.

Whether all of this chaos regarding the future of health care in America stems from the best intentions of our most caring citizens or the nefarious plans of those seeking to overhaul our current system of government, it's beyond me how any rational person can have faith in our elected officials and their ability to manage such an undertaking.

How on earth are we going to be able to afford something that even the CBO places as well beyond our means (at least a trillion dollars so far)? Can anyone point to ANY credible example of government healthcare that rivals what we currently have here? If so, are that country's citizens still flocking to the United States when they need quality care?

Three big lies about Obama's healthcare reform, taken from CATO, full text here.

If you like your current health-care plan, you can keep it.” Even White House spokesmen have said that Obama’s oft-repeated pledge that you can keep your current insurance isn’t meant to be taken literally. The reality is that millions of Americans — perhaps most Americans — will be forced to change insurance plans.

You will pay less.” The Congressional Budget Office has made it clear that the reform plans now being debated will increase overall healthcare costs, yet President Obama on Friday repeatedly said that his reform would reduce costs and save Americans money.

Quality will improve.” Anyone who thinks a government takeover of the healthcare system will improve quality of care has only to look at the healthcare programs the government already runs: The Veterans Administration is overwhelmed with problems, Medicaid is notorious for providing poor quality at a high cost, and Medicare has huge gaps in coverage.

According to Republican leaders at house.gov:

1. A Government Takeover of Health Care. The House Democrats' plan will create a new government-run program, will make health care more expensive, limit treatments and ration care, and put bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions rather than patients and doctors. Translation: higher costs, lower quality, and fewer choices for patients.

2. Forcing More than 100 Million Out of their Health Care. The House Democrats' plan will force more than 100 million Americans out of their current health care plan and onto the government rolls. A Lewin Group study confirms that under a new government-run health plan millions will lose their current health care coverage.

3. Rationing Health Care Treatments. The House Democrats' plan establishes an "advisory committee" that will put bureaucrats and politicians in charge of deciding patient treatments and cures. Translation: The government will make health care treatment decisions rather than doctors and patients.

4. A New Mandate on Individuals. The House Democrats' plan mandates that every American buy health insurance or pay a hefty tax to Washington. This would force more Americans into government-run system that will make health care more expensive, ration care, and put bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions.

5. A New Mandate on Employers. The House Democrats' plan would impose employer mandates and cost jobs by requiring some employers — especially small businesses — to pay a new tax to Washington. The plan would also slap employers that are unable to offer coverage the government deems adequate with another new tax to Washington. These two new taxes will make it more difficult than ever for small business owners to reinvest in their businesses and create and retain good paying jobs.

6. Harming Small Businesses. The House Democrats' plan doesn't yet define "small businesses," which is troubling news for millions of Americans who depend on these engines of economic growth. One Democratic draft plan revealed to date only provides assistance to ease employer mandates for small businesses with an average of 27 or fewer employees. This leaves a huge number of small businesses to deal with the onerous and expensive mandates of the Democrats' government defined health benefit plan ("small businesses" are traditionally defined as employing less than 500 people).

7. Expanding Entitlements. The House Democrats' plan expands the Medicare and Medicaid programs without reform, ignoring the pending insolvency of programs that millions of seniors and families rely upon. These policies will result in benefit cuts and premium increases for many Americans who depend on these programs.

8. Unfunded Mandates on States. The House Democrats' plan creates new unfunded mandates for already cash-strapped states by expanding Medicaid, forcing both the federal government and states to pay more to finance this entitlement expansion. This will leave states no choice but to raise taxes or reduce services for citizens of those states.

9. How Many Taxes Will Democrats Raise? The House Democrats' plan expands benefits and includes massive new subsidies and government-dictated benefits, but it doesn't identify any significant savings to help pay for the new scheme, nor does it acknowledge the massive new costs it will impose on individuals, employers, and states. In the past, Democrats promised a series of new tax hikes to pay for their plan. How many will there be? When do Democrats plan to reveal them?

10. Shifts Massive New Costs onto Taxpayers. The House Democrats' plan represents a bait-and-switch that will make health care more expensive and hit the middle class particularly hard with higher taxes, rationed care, and new health costs. As millions of middle-class families are struggling to make ends meet while making responsible choices, this plan forces those that make responsible decisions to foot the bill for those who don't.

Are these points merely the ridiculous fear mongering of rabid conservatives? Are they simply the incendiary tactics of the callous right or are they legitimate concerns that should and must be fully addressed before we send this 1,000 page monster through and sacrifice the blood, sweat & tears of our children and grandchildren for generations to come? Whether or not you agree with all of those Republican points, they should be addressed and they'd be a fine place to start.

To dismiss all dissenting voices with a condescending wave of the hand seems simplistic and relies too much on a consensus of hypocrisy given the transgressions by both parties over the years. I have no problem examining Bush/Republican mistakes — they're certainly in the hundreds — but we're not going to get anywhere as long as Mr. Obama and our Democrat-controlled congress remain above reproach in the eyes of so many.

If those people want to make a serious case for some sort of socialistic hybrid, that's all well and good, but to deny that major changes are underway would seem to be naïve given the actual events of late. Both the scope and power of our government have grown enormously over the last year (GW Bush got the ball rolling!).

Our government now seeks to limit the salaries of American citizens. You can say it's "just" or "the right thing to do," but that's not supposed to happen in America… is it? Our government has seized some companies outright and completely shut down others. We're now into the banks, the mortgage and insurance companies and the auto industry. How's Amtrak working out?

We're appointing unaccountable and unvetted Czars like crazy and burning through money we do not have like there's no tomorrow. Where's all the outrage that we heard about Bush's paltry deficit? For a nice visualization of our country's "debt car," I'd encourage readers to view this short video.

We're trillions of dollars in debt and borrowing money from China hand over fist, yet Senators continue to pass through massive, budget-busting bills which they openly admit they haven't even read.

Better yet, Congress has hired speed-readers in a ridiculous effort to conform to protocol. Is this some kind of joke? Was it read with a smirk? I don't even understand how people can be debating these things as they would have been completely unthinkable for previous generations, yet anyone daring to question what's happening is immediately branded by the media as a paranoid, misinformed right-wing loon (or worse).

Okay… so let's assume we're not becoming like Europe — the end justifies the means and a few transgressions here and there are a small price to pay for utopian society. Let's forget that Obama (our new President of the United States of America) has said previously that the U.S. Constitution "reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day."

Or this:

…But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.

We don't even have to get into all that "white folks' greed runs a world in need" stuff or a dozen other things that make many people wonder about his redistributive motivations.

Assuming we're not facing a reorganization of our governmental authority, the systematic dismantling of the Constitution, the end of federalism or whatever you want to call it, what does our government currently do well? Why in the face of so many clear errors (lapses of judgment) by this administration should we blindly go forward without seriously questioning what's happening? Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

For those interested, the full text of the current healthcare bill may be found here.

Perhaps Ronald Reagan said it best:

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can't afford it.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it that the US is the ONLY industrialized nation that does not have a national health care system?? a. we’re smarter than the rest of them b. we don’t care about those in need c. we think those without coverage are lazy and stupid and don’t deserve it d. Troy?

    • troykeith

      I don’t have any coverage right now Jeff.. does that give me any more credibility in this debate? The United States has always been different than other nations (many might say that’s a good thing) and I’m not sure becoming more like the rest of the world should ever be part of our decision making process in these matters.

  • baldwin

    So what was your point? I like to hear an intelligent person share their knowledge and opinions. Please reread your piece you drone on and on like a child deprived of a piece of candy. I got your main point you’re still mad that Obama was elected. So please in a fewer sentences do we or do we not need health care reform? Or do let the insurance companies raise rate till the average man can’t afford it. I think an armchair conservative has no compassion, he thinks that a thing better thing left to a God.
    By the way its not grassroots, it this organized by rightwing think tanks, and the insurance companies.

    • troykeith

      The short answer: we need reform w/o a public option – I don’t know when it’s going to be online, but part of that question is addressed in my next post.

      I’ve been to these rallies and they are definitely grassroots.. the media may paint it otherwise, but 98% of these people are just average, concerned citizens that have been angered enough to get off the couch.

      Interesting that much of the time, those showing up in support of nationalized healthcare have professional signs and arrive together in a bus.

      Here’s a link to some ads offering up to $14/hr.

      http://sacramento.craigslist.org/search/?areaID=12&subAreaID=&query=obama&catAbbreviation=jjj

      Here’s another piece on the subject:
      http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/08/the_chutzpah_of_the_town_hall.html

      • baldwin

        Stop! Once you misinform your audience why should they believe any other statement that you make? The tea party groups “were not” started by a grassroots movement, it was started by numerous rightwing, conservative nonprofit groups, and foundation thinktanks. These group are well funded, self-promoting ( The people in the top position make loads of money). they are set to keep the Status quo and protect the wealthy of this country or even overturn some very good programs. This justifies their existence. Take “Townhall.com” they have connection to so many big foundations and even the Editor-in Chief is no grassroots person. At some point the tea parties may become self sustaining, like a runaway nuclear reactor.
        Here a partial list of groups with money.
        Accuracy in Academia, African-American Life Alliance, All Children Matter Inc., Alliance Defense Fund, American Center for Law and Justice, American Civil Rights Institute, American Conservative Union American Enterprise Institute, American Family Association, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Life League, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property, Americans for Tax Reform, Arlington Group, Black America’s Political Action Committee, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Campaign for Working Families PAC, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Cato Institute, Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Christian Coalition of America, Christian Legal Society, Club for Growth, Collegiate Network, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, Committee for Justice, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum Eagle, Forum Collegians, Family Research Council, Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, Studies, Focus on the Family, FRCAction, Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, FreedomWorks, Heritage Foundation, High Impact Leadership Coalition Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Independent Women’s Forum, Institute for Justice, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, Judicial Confirmation Network, Landmark Legal Foundation, Leadership Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Madison Project, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, National Association of Scholars, National Center for Policy Analysis, National Right to Life Committee National, Taxpayers Union New Coalition for Economic and Social Change, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, State Policy Network, Students for Academic, Freedom Toward Tradition, Traditional Values Coalition, WallBuilders, Young America’s Foundation.

        • troykeith

          Well, I can only speak from direct, first-hand experience, but the TC Tea Party began with a woman that works at a copy store – I spoke with her several times during the initial phase. Press releases were sent out, we both did a little printing and before you know it, “tea party” time. I’ve had similar experiences with others.

          Not sure what the big list is meant to represent, but you seem to completely disregard things like the ads seeking to pay for pro-Obamacare demonstrators or the credible evidence of “professional” protesters and union people being bussed in to numerous locations all over the country – or even Rep. Schauer’s office downstate.

          When you look at the crowds against the healthcare bill being shown on tv, do these middle aged (often elderly) people really look like the typical rent a mob crowd to you?

          The fact that other groups may provide information doesn’t mean they’re “behind the protests” any more than NBC or George Sorros were directly behind the numerous Bush protests. They certainly promoted them as many conservative groups now encourage people on the other side.

        • Anonymous

          Read my blog response in Troy Keith’s article. Do you think George Soros is innocent of contributing cash to set up and run all the liberal organizations? Its done on by all political parties. The tea party is not about Dems., Reps., Greens, etc. Its just about all the government spending and interference.

  • Bob

    TK,

    I loved the debt road trip, and the Reagan quote.

    46 million uninsured? Even Southern California Public Radio is conceding the number is doubtful.
    http://www.scpr.org/news/2009/08/20/46-million-uninsured-look-behind-number/

    I have previously made my case for my view that health insurance inflation is out of control. Is that a point of agreement or contention between us?

    I think we both agree that having the government take over health care will only exacerbate the problem as I have described it. Any real solutions are welcome though.

    Medical bankruptcy appears to be greatly overstated.

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenumbers/2009/03/medical-bankrup.html
    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/07/30/the_medical_bankruptcy_myth_97335.html

    I guess that is what bankruptcy is for and should be, but I could be convinced that we should give a tax break to those who have suffered it to help them get back on their financial feet. Lets say any bankruptcy that has medical debts greater than one years worth of their average income for the proceeding five years is exempt from any state or federal income tax for ten years up to the cumulative total of their bankruptcy medical debts.

    With unemployment at such high rates I can see that there may be more than usual preexisting condition problems for middle age an older unemployed persons. Their Cobra coverage runs out and they break their chain of coverage. Should we allow insurance companies to discriminate against and exclude these people based on preexisting conditions (IE high blood pressure or high cholesterol)?

    • troykeith

      The debt road trip should have been a post by itself as it probably got lost after about 1,000 words in this one.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5yxFtTwDcc

      Definitely agree with your point on the current system but I’m skeptical of any gov’t solution for the problem. Maybe this current initiative (when it’s finally shot down in flames) will be enough of a wake up call to actually bring some substantial reform/solutions from the private sector.

  • Bob

    TK,

    I loved the debt road trip, and the Reagan quote.

    46 million uninsured? Even Southern California Public Radio is conceding the number is doubtful.
    http://www.scpr.org/news/2009/08/20/46-million-

    I have previously made my case for my view that health insurance inflation is out of control. Is that a point of agreement or contention between us?

    I think we both agree that having the government take over health care will only exacerbate the problem as I have described it. Any real solutions are welcome though.

    Medical bankruptcy appears to be greatly overstated.

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenumbers/2009/03/med
    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/0

    I guess that is what bankruptcy is for and should be, but I could be convinced that we should give a tax break to those who have suffered it to help them get back on their financial feet. Lets say any bankruptcy that has medical debts greater than one years worth of their average income for the proceeding five years is exempt from any state or federal income tax for ten years up to the cumulative total of their bankruptcy medical debts.

    With unemployment at such high rates I can see that there may be more than usual preexisting condition problems for middle age an older unemployed persons. Their Cobra coverage runs out and they break their chain of coverage. Should we allow insurance companies to discriminate against and exclude these people based on preexisting conditions (IE high blood pressure or high cholesterol)?

  • troykeith

    The short answer: we need reform w/o a public option – I don't know when it's going to be online, but part of that question is addressed in my next post.

    I've been to these rallies and they are definitely grassroots.. the media may paint it otherwise, but 98% of these people are just average, concerned citizens that have been angered enough to get off the couch.

    Interesting that much of the time, those showing up in support of nationalized healthcare have professional signs and arrive together in a bus.

    Can't link directly in a reply, but you can cut and paste this link to see some ads offering up to $14/hr.

    http://sacramento.craigslist.org/search/?areaID

    Here's another piece on the subject:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/08/the_chut

  • troykeith

    The debt road trip should have been a post by itself as it probably got lost after about 1,000 words in this one.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5yxFtTwDcc

    Definitely agree with your point on the current system but I'm skeptical of any gov't solution for the problem. Maybe this current initiative (when it's finally shot down in flames) will be enough of a wake up call to actually bring some substantial reform/solutions from the private sector.

  • troykeith

    I don't have any coverage right now Jeff.. does that give me any more credibility in this debate? The United States has always been different than other nations (many might say that's a good thing) and I'm not sure becoming more like the rest of the world should ever be part of our decision making process in these matters.

  • http://www.meetmeinprovence.com joawils

    As some readers know, I spend much of my time in France (or have, at least, during the past 5 years). Here’s what I know from first hand experience.

    The French health care system is superb. Why? Among other reasons…they pay for it. The French pay very high taxes during their working years.

    Here’s what I have experienced: On several occasions over the 5 year period, I needed to go to the doctor for flu, ongoing issues with blood pressure control, etc. I was seen by the physician…no fancy office, no office staff, no nurse on duty (this was true of the two I visited). The doctor spend a minimum of 1/2 hour to an hour with me. Office call cost? 22€ or $31 at today’s exchange rate. If I had been part of the system, no charge! All included.

    I had blood work done at the lab. Roughly $19 (and I’m rounding up.)….Monthly medication..$30. If I had been part of the system, no charge, all included.

    A year ago a visiting friend fell and broke her wrist. A Sunday morning trip to the local emergency room: She was promptly seen by a doctor, got x-rays, which were read on the spot, received a brace and prescription medication for pain. At no time were we asked for money or an insurance card. They took her name and stateside address period! A week later, we went back to pick up the x-rays for her to take back to her Stateside physician. Total cost? Roughly $125.

    I can go to the local pharmacy and pick up the annual flu vaccine. Cost? $5. Take it to the local nurse’s office (yes, their nurse care system is also comprehensive and included in their covereage)….my cost, without any insurance? $10 for the injection. (I know, it would be free to me in the States with my Medicare coverage, but I was not here!) Oh, and had I wanted or needed, the nurse would have come to my house to give me the injection for the same charge.

    I won’t ramble on. I think you see my point. We are the greatest country! Why can’t we do it?

    Let’s get the political wrangling out of the discussion and deal only with the facts, please!

  • http://www.meetmeinprovence.com joawils

    As some readers know, I spend much of my time in France (or have, at least, during the past 5 years). Here's what I know from first hand experience.

    The French health care system is superb. Why? Among other reasons…they pay for it. The French pay very high taxes during their working years.

    Here's what I have experienced: On several occasions over the 5 year period, I needed to go to the doctor for flu, ongoing issues with blood pressure control, etc. I was seen by the physician…no fancy office, no office staff, no nurse on duty (this was true of the two I visited). The doctor spend a minimum of 1/2 hour to an hour with me. Office call cost? 22€ or $31 at today's exchange rate. If I had been part of the system, no charge! All included.

    I had blood work done at the lab. Roughly $19 (and I'm rounding up.)….Monthly medication..$30. If I had been part of the system, no charge, all included.

    A year ago a visiting friend fell and broke her wrist. A Sunday morning trip to the local emergency room: She was promptly seen by a doctor, got x-rays, which were read on the spot, received a brace and prescription medication for pain. At no time were we asked for money or an insurance card. They took her name and stateside address period! A week later, we went back to pick up the x-rays for her to take back to her Stateside physician. Total cost? Roughly $125.

    I can go to the local pharmacy and pick up the annual flu vaccine. Cost? $5. Take it to the local nurse's office (yes, their nurse care system is also comprehensive and included in their covereage)….my cost, without any insurance? $10 for the injection. (I know, it would be free to me in the States with my Medicare coverage, but I was not here!) Oh, and had I wanted or needed, the nurse would have come to my house to give me the injection for the same charge.

    I won't ramble on. I think you see my point. We are the greatest country! Why can't we do it?

    Let's get the political wrangling out of the discussion and deal only with the facts, please!

  • troykeith

    From what I’ve heard, the French system is considerably better than the Canadian model – the WHO certainly spoke highly of it, but is it sustainable? This report would contradict those findings:

    http://www.scielosp.org/scielo.php?pid=S0042-96

    I’ve also read that French doctors make an average of $55,000 per year? It would be interesting to see the statistics regarding issues other than flu shots or a minor broken bone. There’s clearly room for improvement in our healthcare model, but I think it’s also fair to say there significant problems in all nationalized systems.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124958049241511

    “The problem is that Assurance Maladie has been in the red since 1989. This year the annual shortfall is expected to reach €9.4 billion ($13.5 billion), and €15 billion in 2010, or roughly 10% of its budget.

    France's woes provide grist to critics of Mr. Obama and the Democrats' vision of a new public health plan to compete with private health insurers. “

    From the BBC: “French healthcare is badly run” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3423159.stm

    Another take here:

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/johnstossel/2009/08/mo

  • http://www.meetmeinprovence.com joawils

    I appreciate your reply and the obvious ample amount of time you have to research and explore the information floating around from various sources. This only supports my contention that we need to push aside the politically spun cobwebs and deal with the facts.

    That said, is the French system perfect? Of course not!

    One inescapable fact is that someone or entity has to pay for any system. No one expects physicians or nurses to work for little or no salary. Now we head down the road of the philosophical discussion as to what is “fair” for whom and under what conditions…..and on and on it goes.

    Another inescapable fact: We are not going to find the magic answer with our “conversation”. What I do applaud and encourage is a continued sane and calm exchange of facts and a willingness for all individuals to examine them without fear, anger or blind political fervor entering into the discussion.

  • http://www.meetmeinprovence.com joawils

    I appreciate your reply and the obvious ample amount of time you have to research and explore the information floating around from various sources. This only supports my contention that we need to push aside the politically spun cobwebs and deal with the facts.

    That said, is the French system perfect? Of course not!

    One inescapable fact is that someone or entity has to pay for any system. No one expects physicians or nurses to work for little or no salary. Now we head down the road of the philosophical discussion as to what is “fair” for whom and under what conditions…..and on and on it goes.

    Another inescapable fact: We are not going to find the magic answer with our “conversation”. What I do applaud and encourage is a continued sane and calm exchange of facts and a willingness for all individuals to examine them without fear, anger or blind political fervor entering into the discussion.

  • baldwin

    Stop! Once you misinform your audience why should they believe any other statement that you make? The tea party groups “were not” started by a grassroots movement, it was started by numerous rightwing, conservative nonprofit groups, and foundation thinktanks. These group are well funded, self-promoting ( The people in the top position make loads of money). they are set to keep the Status quo and protect the wealthy of this country or even overturn some very good programs. This justifies their existence. Take “Townhall.com” they have connection to so many big foundations and even the Editor-in Chief is no grassroots person. At some point the tea parties may become self sustaining, like a runaway nuclear reactor.
    Here a partial list of groups with money.
    Accuracy in Academia, African-American Life Alliance, All Children Matter Inc., Alliance Defense Fund, American Center for Law and Justice, American Civil Rights Institute, American Conservative Union American Enterprise Institute, American Family Association, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Life League, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property, Americans for Tax Reform, Arlington Group, Black America's Political Action Committee, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Campaign for Working Families PAC, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Cato Institute, Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Christian Coalition of America, Christian Legal Society, Club for Growth, Collegiate Network, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, Committee for Justice, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum Eagle, Forum Collegians, Family Research Council, Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, Studies, Focus on the Family, FRCAction, Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, FreedomWorks, Heritage Foundation, High Impact Leadership Coalition Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Independent Women's Forum, Institute for Justice, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, Judicial Confirmation Network, Landmark Legal Foundation, Leadership Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Madison Project, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, National Association of Scholars, National Center for Policy Analysis, National Right to Life Committee National, Taxpayers Union New Coalition for Economic and Social Change, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, State Policy Network, Students for Academic, Freedom Toward Tradition, Traditional Values Coalition, WallBuilders, Young America's Foundation.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    baldwin…So? First of all, the liberal left has been demonizing the Bush administration and conservatives forever with billionaire Soros' money and Move-On.org.

    Second, government subsidies should be terminated to liberal ACORN and all the tentacles this octopus of an organization has. Never mind that ACORN is being investigated in several states for voter registration fraud.

    Finally, now that Obama-care has been looked at (whatever form you want to look at…HR3200 being the official one currently), the elderly, like myself, are frightened that rationed healthcare will cut them off in their age of greatest need. If organizations form, so much the better. At least they are not government-funded.

  • Anonymous

    The trouble with all the research and the newspaper/web articles is that they don’t actually say what it’s like for people on the ground.

    As Joawils experienced in France, and as I saw in England, whether or not the politicians think the system is going down the drain, the actual folks who get to use the system are very happy with it.

    As for the Veterans’ Administration, a recent report by the IAVA blames most of the difficulty on a “Byzantine” claims and paperwork procedure. This was made worse by the Bush administration, which seemed not to anticipate the surge in casualties caused by going into Iraq and Afghanistan, and actually cut the number of administrators at the VA.

    It’s rich that you quote Ronald Reagan, the great champion of big business. It was under his administration that HMOs and Insurance groups started their rise to the super-rich influence groups they are now. But of course it’s easy to disguise a plutocracy as “humanitarian” if they claim to care for people (the ones who can afford their care, that is).

    • troykeith

      I don’t think it’s so much a problem of the newspaper articles, but rather an issue of things conforming to the specific templates of each side as I mentioned in the piece.

      Have you or Joawils experienced any sort of catastrophic care issues within these systems? I’d be very curious to have you both call your doctors with a hypothetical scenario.. severe headaches, wondering if it’s something serious, how long until you could get an MRI?

      I’ve heard and read numerous bits about the quality of care in Canada and Europe (also listened to a number of first-hand experiences) and while many say they’re satisfied, there are also an incredible number of horror stories. Isn’t the average wait between a primary care visit and a specialist at least 4 months in Canada? That’s a long time to live pain as cancer metastasizes throughout the body.

      Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute has done a fair amount of research into this subject and I’ll quote her personal experience below..

      http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=481278

      “A ‘culture of queuing’ dominates my native land. In 2008, the average Canadian waited 17.3 weeks from the time his general practitioner referred him to a specialist until he actually received treatment, according to the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute.

      My mother’s case is instructive. In June 2005, she wasn’t feeling well and thought she might have colon cancer. She asked for a colonoscopy but was told by her doctor that it was unnecessary. The doctor ordered an X-ray, which revealed nothing.

      [when she asked again, her mother was told that she was too old to receive a colonoscopy]

      By December, she was 30 pounds lighter, bleeding — and finally eligible for care. She spent two days in the emergency room and two days in a transit lounge waiting for a room. A colonoscopy revealed advanced cancer. She died two weeks later.”

      According to the Heritage Foundation, “breast cancer mortality in Germany is 52% higher than in the U.S.; the U.K.’s rate is 88% higher. For prostate cancer, mortality is 604% higher in the U.K. and 457% higher in Norway. Colorectal cancer? Forty percent higher in the U.K.”

      We could go on and on countering numbers with numbers.. you can ridicule Reagan, I could criticize Carter/Clinton, but that’s not really getting anywhere as far as the specifics of the debate are concerned. You mention Bush’s VA and I think of how he removed the “death panel option” for Veterans and Obama recently reinstated it (the book Your Life, Your Choices).

      http://209.157.64.200/focus/news/2319899/posts?page=61

      On the surface, I think there appear to be many positives within these systems and I have no doubt that the average citizen with the flu or a broken finger is quite satisfied for the most part, but there appears to be serious limitations for anything requiring more than a shot or a band-aid. Beyond that, I see no evidence (nor do I have any faith) in our government’s ability to handle such an undertaking any better than the previous examples of disastrous nationalized healthcare operating deeply in the red.

      http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332723342557746

  • CathyStripeLester

    The trouble with all the research and the newspaper/web articles is that they don't actually say what it's like for people on the ground.

    As Joawils experienced in France, and as I saw in England, whether or not the politicians think the system is going down the drain, the actual folks who get to use the system are very happy with it.

    As for the Veterans' Administration, a recent report by the IAVA blames most of the difficulty on a “Byzantine” claims and paperwork procedure. This was made worse by the Bush administration, which seemed not to anticipate the surge in casualties caused by going into Iraq and Afghanistan, and actually cut the number of administrators at the VA.

    It's rich that you quote Ronald Reagan, the great champion of big business. It was under his administration that HMOs and Insurance groups started their rise to the super-rich influence groups they are now. But of course it's easy to disguise a plutocracy as “humanitarian” if they claim to care for people (the ones who can afford their care, that is).

  • troykeith

    I don’t think it’s so much a problem of the newspaper articles, but rather an issue of things conforming to the specific templates of each side as I mentioned in the piece.

    Have you or Joawils experienced any sort of catastrophic care issues within these systems? I’d be very curious to have you both call your doctors with a hypothetical scenario.. severe headaches, wondering if it’s something serious, how long until you could get an MRI?

    I’ve heard and read numerous bits about the quality of care in Canada and Europe (also listened to a number of first-hand experiences) and while many say they’re satisfied, there are also an incredible number of horror stories. Isn’t the average wait between a primary care visit and a specialist at least 4 months in Canada? That’s a long time to live pain as cancer metastasizes throughout the body.

    Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute has done a fair amount of research into this subject and I’ll quote her personal experience below..

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Articl

    “A “culture of queuing” dominates my native land. In 2008, the average Canadian waited 17.3 weeks from the time his general practitioner referred him to a specialist until he actually received treatment, according to the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute.

    My mother's case is instructive. In June 2005, she wasn't feeling well and thought she might have colon cancer. She asked for a colonoscopy but was told by her doctor that it was unnecessary. The doctor ordered an X-ray, which revealed nothing.

    [when she asked again, her mother was told that she was too old to receive a colonoscopy]

    By December, she was 30 pounds lighter, bleeding — and finally eligible for care. She spent two days in the emergency room and two days in a transit lounge waiting for a room. A colonoscopy revealed advanced cancer. She died two weeks later.”

    According to the Heritage Foundation, “breast cancer mortality in Germany is 52% higher than in the U.S.; the U.K.'s rate is 88% higher. For prostate cancer, mortality is 604% higher in the U.K. and 457% higher in Norway. Colorectal cancer? Forty percent higher in the U.K.”

    We could go on and on countering numbers with numbers.. you can ridicule Regain, I could criticize Carter/Clinton, but that’s not really getting anywhere as far as the specifics of the debate are concerned.

    I’ve think there appear to be many positives within these systems and I have no doubt that the average citizen with the flu or a broken finger is quite satisfied for the most part, but there appears to be serious limitations for anything requiring more than a shot or a band-aid. Beyond that, I see no evidence (nor do I have any faith) in our government’s ability to handle such an undertaking any better than the previous examples of disastrous nationalized healthcare operating deeply in the red.

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?i

  • troykeith

    Well, I can only speak from direct, first-hand experience, but the TC Tea Party began during a conversation I had with a woman that works at a copy store. She took control of the project from there on.. we sent out press releases, did some printing and so it went. I’ve had similar experiences with others.

    Not sure what the big list is meant to represent, but you seem to completely disregard things like the ads seeking to pay for pro-Obamacare demonstrators or the credible evidence of “professional” protesters and union people being bussed in to numerous locations all over the country – or even Rep. Schauer’s office downstate.

    When you look at the crowds against the healthcare bill being shown on tv, do these middle aged (often elderly) people really look like the typical rent a mob crowd to you?

    The fact that other groups may provide information doesn’t mean they’re “behind the protests” any more than NBC or George Sorros were directly behind the numerous Bush protests. They certainly promoted them as many conservative groups now encourage people on the other side.

  • Anonymous

    Your article says much about health care reform issues in this country. One issue that needs serious consideration in this debate is tort reform. Why are so few in congress even mentioning it? Wouldn’t you think tort reform would be an bring an instant cut to health care costs?

    Also, the tea party people are just that — the people. This is in regards to “baldwin’s” comments. Of course, word spreads and people organize as they have for generations regarding issues e.g., war opposition, the environment, homelessness, poverty, abortion, etc. Those who think the tea party people are fake need to know we’re not organized like the unions (SEIU) or COI (formerly ACORN). We do not have a company, union boss, or politician tell us we have to attend. We do not get paid or have our expenses paid to attend. We pay our own way, take time out from our daily jobs or daily routine, drive miles in our own cars, pay for our gas, car pool, or get a group together and share the cost of a bus. We volunteer to stand in the heat. If enough people share the same interests and concerns, organizations form to coordinate voices and help share costs. I have to ask “baldwin” why its only OK for groups groups like Organizing for America and Move On.org, etc. to form? When you get enough people together with the same interests, who want to gather, you do have to get someone to bring them together. What is wrong with that? Are only some people allowed to gather and others can’t?

    Now its our time. Those of us who have worked hard, pay our bills, paid for our own education, took out loans and paid them back, pay our taxes, given our share (including volunteer time and money) to help others, took responsibility for our families and community also have a right to stand alongside others with similar concerns and voice our opinion(s) in a peaceful manner.

    One of the best things to have hatched from the health care issue is that people are re-reading and studying up on their U.S. History. They are reading the Constitution and Declaration of Independence — reading about the founding fathers and this nation’s history — reading about health care in other countries. But most important, citizens are taking it upon themselves, to reading the health care bill(s) — something our Congress and the President haven’t done.

    No doubt, I believe everyone can agree we need some improvements in the cost and delivery of the health care system in this country; but we do not need more government intrusion into our personal lives and we need to cut government spending.

    As a Judge Napolitano said, “Businesse makes money — government consumes money.”

    When is the last time the government worked overtime to get the job done? Do you think the government will work overtime when it comes to providing you with health care?

  • dkubus

    Your article says much about health care reform issues in this country. One issue that needs serious consideration in this debate is tort reform. Why are so few in congress even mentioning it? Wouldn't you think tort reform would be an bring an instant cut to health care costs?

    Also, the tea party people are just that — the people. This is in regards to “baldwin's” comments. Of course, word spreads and people organize as they have for generations regarding issues e.g., war opposition, the environment, homelessness, poverty, abortion, etc. Those who think the tea party people are fake need to know we're not organized like the unions (SEIU) or COI (formerly ACORN). We do not have a company, union boss, or politician tell us we have to attend. We do not get paid or have our expenses paid to attend. We pay our own way, take time out from our daily jobs or daily routine, drive miles in our own cars, pay for our gas, car pool, or get a group together and share the cost of a bus. We volunteer to stand in the heat. If enough people share the same interests and concerns, organizations form to coordinate voices and help share costs. I have to ask “baldwin” why its only OK for groups groups like Organizing for America and Move On.org, etc. to form? When you get enough people together with the same interests, who want to gather, you do have to get someone to bring them together. What is wrong with that? Are only some people allowed to gather and others can't?

    Now its our time. Those of us who have worked hard, pay our bills, paid for our own education, took out loans and paid them back, pay our taxes, given our share (including volunteer time and money) to help others, took responsibility for our families and community also have a right to stand alongside others with similar concerns and voice our opinion(s) in a peaceful manner.

    One of the best things to have hatched from the health care issue is that people are re-reading and studying up on their U.S. History. They are reading the Constitution and Declaration of Independence — reading about the founding fathers and this nation's history — reading about health care in other countries. But most important, citizens are taking it upon themselves, to reading the health care bill(s) — something our Congress and the President haven't done.

    No doubt, I believe everyone can agree we need some improvements in the cost and delivery of the health care system in this country; but we do not need more government intrusion into our personal lives and we need to cut government spending.

    As a Judge Napolitano said, “Businesse makes money — government consumes money.”

    When is the last time the government worked overtime to get the job done? Do you think the government will work overtime when it comes to providing you with health care?

  • dkubus

    Read my blog response in Troy Keith's article. Do you think George Soros is innocent of contributing cash to set up and run all the liberal organizations? Its done on by all political parties. The tea party is not about Dems., Reps., Greens, etc. Its just about all the government spending and interference.

  • A. Gabriel

    OK. This is a democracy I’m told. Why can’t we have an option that is public, or if we so choose, single payer? Tell me again? Condemn the public- condemn me and you! Protect the profit motives of fascist corporations doing business and not our people? Eliminate our public choice because- we can only behold market mentality and not true Christian cooperation? We must profit? This is really screwed up. No wonder we aren’t sustainable.

    I saw a flyer in the Post Office alerting rural northern Michigan women about help for mammograms and testing with our PUBLIC HEALTH DEPT. and with a note that MEDICAID could help with the costs. I want Republican Rep. Dave Camp (who has great congressional health insurance) to see it since he represents us up here. Why? Because many folks are suffering with low wages, loss of income and jobs in wonderful N. Michigan. In this tourist mecca we aren’t supposed to notice?

    Our tax money should benefit and be used for the good of our citizens, health care, good educations. We need less taxation too and can $AVE $$ the billions spent for illegal war and hypocritical corporate welfare. More .. cap the insane, immoral profits of those insurance companies (where the death panels really do exist) to cut health care costs. REGULATE and enforce laws which protect our health, our environment- usually white collar, corporate criminals found in chambers all over America.
    Provide health care for our people. Medicare for all who want it. What a concept- a truly high standard of living for our own people- healthy, smart, happy- just imagine. And lets get that free college education thing going again- we need more smart people in America- reward motivated learners like some other countries..no wonder our society is crude, failing. And lets do away with taxing our elders (what’s with that?) say, anybody over 65. No more taxes for you. Relax, enjoy your later years-you’ve worked hard and paid already, bet you could enjoy life a lot more if you didn’t have to worry so much about some blue-blood’s profits. Let’s get our priorities straightened out. Long live Americans and may we live smarter, kinder, better in the future. Amen.

    • troykeith

      You make some interesting points although the general concept of vilifying corporate profit while touting the virtues of free medicine and free education for all sounds vaguely familiar..

      Having both public and private options sounds like a good idea on the surface – The public option is certainly more appealing to me than single-payer. What could be more fair or capitalistic than a little direct competition right? I don’t see how it could ever work in the long run. Aside from numerous provisions that would eventually force people into a gov’t plan (more than 118 million according to the Lewin Group and others), private companies would not be able to compete against the full force of the government – subsidized with our tax dollars.

      We need regulation and an overhaul of the current system but I still place my faith in market-based solutions.

      On one hand you say our tax money should be used for the good of our citizens but then you say we should have less taxation in the next sentence. How would all of this government benevolence be paid for?

      We’re already so far in the hole, Timothy Geihtner had to ask Congress to increase our $12.1 Trillion debt limit.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124970470294516541.html

      National Debt Clock: http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

      I’m not sure what was wrong with the flyer at the Post Office? Isn’t help with mammogram testing a good thing? Medicaid/care are a mess but given what we’re spending on these programs I’d hope at least some benefits were seen.

      From American Thinker:

      “In 2008, federal Medicaid and Medicare spending totaled $676 billion. Comprising only 2 percent of the federal budget in 1967, these two programs today consume 23 percent of total federal spending. This is the largest component of the federal budget, even exceeding total wartime outlays for national defense.

      Corrected for inflation, Medicare and Medicaid spending has increased by 2,735 percent since funding began in 1967. That is a real annual growth rate of 8.5 percent, almost three times the annual rate of economic growth for the same period.”

  • A. Gabriel

    OK. This is a democracy I'm told. Why can't we have an option that is public, or if we so choose, single payer? Tell me again? Condemn the public- condemn me and you! Protect the profit motives of fascist corporations doing business and not our people? Eliminate our public choice because- we can only behold market mentality and not true Christian cooperation? We must profit? This is really screwed up. No wonder we aren't sustainable.

    I saw a flyer in the Post Office alerting rural northern Michigan women about help for mammograms and testing with our PUBLIC HEALTH DEPT. and with a note that MEDICAID could help with the costs. I want Republican Rep. Dave Camp (who has great congressional health insurance) to see it since he represents us up here. Why? Because many folks are suffering with low wages, loss of income and jobs in wonderful N. Michigan. In this tourist mecca we aren't supposed to notice?

    Our tax money should benefit and be used for the good of our citizens, health care, good educations. We need less taxation too and can $AVE $$ the billions spent for illegal war and hypocritical corporate welfare. More .. cap the insane, immoral profits of those insurance companies (where the death panels really do exist) to cut health care costs. REGULATE and enforce laws which protect our health, our environment- usually white collar, corporate criminals found in chambers all over America.
    Provide health care for our people. Medicare for all who want it. What a concept- a truly high standard of living for our own people- healthy, smart, happy- just imagine. And lets get that free college education thing going again- we need more smart people in America- reward motivated learners like some other countries..no wonder our society is crude, failing. And lets do away with taxing our elders (what's with that?) say, anybody over 65. No more taxes for you. Relax, enjoy your later years-you've worked hard and paid already, bet you could enjoy life a lot more if you didn't have to worry so much about some blue-blood's profits. Let's get our priorities straightened out. Long live Americans and may we live smarter, kinder, better in the future. Amen.

  • troykeith

    You make some interesting points although the general concept of vilifying corporate profit while touting the virtues of free medicine and free education for all sounds vaguely familiar..

    Having both public and private options sounds like a good idea on the surface – what could be more fair or capitalistic than a little direct competition right? I don’t see how it could ever work in the long run. Aside from numerous provisions that would eventually force people into a gov't plan (more than 118 million according to the Lewin Group and others), private companies would not be able to compete against the full force of the government – subsidized with our tax dollars.

    We need regulation and an overhaul of the current system but I still place my faith in market-based solutions.

    On one hand you say our tax money should be used for the good of our citizens but then you say we should have less taxation in the next sentence. How would all of this government benevolence be paid for?

    We’re already so far in the hole, Timothy Geihtner had to ask Congress to increase our $12.1 Trillion debt limit.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124970470294516

    National Debt Clock: http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

    I’m not sure what was wrong with the flyer at the Post Office? Isn’t help with mammogram testing a good thing? Medicaid/care are a mess but given what we’re spending on these programs I’d hope at least some benefits were seen.

    From American Thinker:

    “In 2008, federal Medicaid and Medicare spending totaled $676 billion. Comprising only 2 percent of the federal budget in 1967, these two programs today consume 23 percent of total federal spending. This is the largest component of the federal budget, even exceeding total wartime outlays for national defense.

    Corrected for inflation, Medicare and Medicaid spending has increased by 2,735 percent since funding began in 1967. That is a real annual growth rate of 8.5 percent, almost three times the annual rate of economic growth for the same period.”

  • A. Gabriel

    NYT: “Any Nation As Rich As Ours Ought To Guarantee Health Coverage For All Of Its Residents” TODAY, read it for facts.

    Lewin? Is United Health Care. They are interested in making a profit off of our health. Nothing altruistic.

    Medicare/caid. Very important public programs, as is social security. USA would be in chaos without them- and they are wildly successful as single payer would be and that CHOICE should be ours in a democracy. Many Americans have been stripped of assets by unethical/illegal behavior by corporations in the last ten years due to a conservative mandate for deregulation (see Rep. Camp) that has driven this lawlessness along with little criminal enforcement by the Bush administration – thus the increasing need of our people whose incomes have fallen.

    • troykeith

      The NYT piece is exactly what my next post is about although my take was a little different. Our nation’s poorest should be guaranteed coverage, but those that can afford insurance should also have the ability to make their own choices or to be self-insured.

      As mentioned previously, our “richest nation” status could be debated and you still don’t address how this would be funded. Just saying it should be so is the easy part. I think we should have world peace but the details tend to make that next to impossible given current events and our limitations as human beings.

      Medicaid and Social Security ARE very important programs, but many would also argue that these programs are themselves “in chaos”. Fixing the problems/gaps/waste within the current systems would do much to help the people falling through the cracks and until we can at least demonstrate the ability (willingness?) to do so with existing gov’t initiatives, I don’t think we should be seeking a new program that would dwarf all of those combined.

      Aside from the fact that every problem in the known universe is easily traced back to Bush and he’s no longer in the picture, I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that a single payer system would be “wildly successful”.

  • A. Gabriel

    NYT: “Any Nation As Rich As Ours Ought To Guarantee Health Coverage For All Of Its Residents” TODAY, read it for facts.

    Lewin? Is United Health Care. They are interested in making a profit off of our health. Nothing altruistic.

    Medicare/caid. Very important public programs, as is social security. USA would be in chaos without them- and they are wildly successful as single payer would be and that CHOICE should be ours in a democracy. Many Americans have been stripped of assets by unethical/illegal behavior by corporations in the last ten years due to a conservative mandate for deregulation (see Rep. Camp) that has driven this lawlessness along with little criminal enforcement by the Bush administration – thus the increasing need of our people whose incomes have fallen.

  • troykeith

    The NYT piece is exactly what my next post is about although my take was a little different. Our nation’s poorest should be guaranteed coverage, but those that can afford insurance should also have the ability to make their own choices or to be self-insured.

    As mentioned previously, our “richest nation” status could be debated and you still don’t address how this would be funded. Just saying it should be so is the easy part. I think we should have world peace but the details tend to make that next to impossible given current events and our limitations as human beings.

    Medicaid and Social Security ARE very important programs, but many would also argue that these programs are themselves “in chaos”. Fixing the problems/gaps/waste within the current systems would do much to help the people falling through the cracks and until we can at least demonstrate the ability (willingness?) to do so with existing gov’t initiatives, I don’t think we should be seeking a new program that would dwarf all of those combined.

    Aside from the fact that every problem in the known universe is easily traced back to Bush and he’s no longer in the picture, I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that a single payer system would be “wildly successful”.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Troy,
    You asked for news of catastrophic illness on the NHS — thankfully I’ve been spared anything like that, but my ex-husband (in Cornwall, UK) had unexplained stomach pains earlier this summer. He got seen to immediately; within a month he had a variety of specialized tests culminating in a complete-bowel endoscopy which he was able to watch on a TV screen all the way through (my reaction: Bluuuggghh). Fortunately no cancers or polyps were found and he is now consulting with a dietician.

    • troykeith

      That’s great news regarding your husband and I’m encouraged to hear your report on his experience – although it seems again that we’re hearing wildly different accounts of what life is like under nationalized care. The people telling horrific stories seem genuinely upset and it’s difficult to doubt their sincerity – It does make the issue very confusing, but of course, there are many more considerations in this besides quality of care. Thanks for the update.

  • CathyStripeLester

    Hi Troy,
    You asked for news of catastrophic illness on the NHS — thankfully I've been spared anything like that, but my ex-husband (in Cornwall, UK) had unexplained stomach pains earlier this year. He got seen to very promptly; inside of a month he had a variety of specialized tests including a complete-bowel endoscopy which he was able to watch on a TV screen all the way through (my reaction: Bluuuggghh). Fortunately no cancers or polyps were found and he is now consulting with a dietician.

  • troykeith

    That's great news regarding your husband and I'm encouraged to hear your report on his experience – although it seems again that we're hearing wildly different accounts of what life is like under nationalized care. The people telling horrific stories seem genuinely upset and it's difficult to doubt their sincerity – It does make the issue very confusion, but of course, there are many more considerations in this besides quality of care. Thanks for the update.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Troy,
    I found a nice little article about the Lewin Group in the Washington Post published 7/23/09.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/22/AR2009072203696.html

    From the article,
    To Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House Republican whip, it is “the nonpartisan Lewin Group.” To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an “independent research firm.” To Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is “well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country.”Actually they are owned by a company called Ingenix which is a United Health subsidiary. It seems they had a little problem with the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association. Here is what they did.
    The Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a United Health subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied United Health and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the “reasonable and customary” doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.
    In January, United Health agreed to a $50 million settlement with the New York attorney general and a $350 million settlement with the AMA, covering conduct going back as far as 1994.
    This is the state of the “unbiased, non-partisan” findings by the Lewin Group. I can find no other references to the “others” you refer to besides the ranting and rambling of the House and Senate minority leaders Boehner and McConnell respectively. Not exactly non-partisan there either.
    In your reply to joawils you referenced the article from scielo and they say the French system is in need of reform. They also state the French haven’t overhauled their system since 1958. They would surely need some reform by now but the French system is still much higher rated than the American system and by far score much better than Americans in health care outcome. I believe the W.H.O still ranks France #1 and America #37 and,they live longer than Americans while smoking,drinking wine and beer,eating cheese and butter and having a socialized health care system.Imagine that..
    America has always been a great country because we led the rest of the world to a better way. As it turns out,we can also learn from other countries who may have a better way. To stubbornly refuse to try another way, perhaps a better way, we will continue to pour untold trillions into insurance companies coffers,money which could go towards small business entrepreneurs starting a new business. All from the illnesses,suffering and needless deaths of Americans.

    The Republicans have vilified the Europeans for their socialist medical plans where every citizen has free or nearly free health care. They will even treat Americans capitalists when they get sick or have an accident there, and they don’t charge them or if they do, it is a pittance.Check out this article from Michael Moore’s website from a Canadian citizen regarding the Canadian system.
    http://www.michaelmoore.com/mustread/index.php?id=1295
    Thanks,dougo

    • troykeith

      I commend your desire to search beyond the headlines for the truth. Is it out there? Apparently there are only a couple of readers here that strongly oppose the concept of government healthcare..

      The problem with much of this is the sheer number of conflicting reports.. Lewin is certainly not the only source suggesting that a single-pay system would force a majority onto the gov’t ticket. Given such a system, how could any private insurance firm compete with the full force and power of the federal gov’t?

      Regardless of the arguments to the contrary, many people have a fundamental opposition to the concept of such a large government program. Again I’d say, let’s at least fix the problems with what we’ve got now before jumping off the cliff on this one.

      In all fairness, I have to say that pointing to one issue with one of the sources I mentioned is all well and good, but to then cite Michael Moore as a credible source makes me question your whole argument. The bias and inaccuracies of “sicko” are handily dismissed.

      I’ve never been a big fan of the U.N. or the WHO (although they do much good in “some” areas), but the study that’s being bantered about so often lately was flawed in many respects. According to a CATO report,

      “To use the existing WHO rankings to justify more government involvement in health care is to engage in circular reasoning because the rankings are designed in a manner that favors greater government involvement.”

      http://www.cato.org/pubs/bp/bp101.pdf

      The WHO’s index is based on five factors, weighted as follows:
      1. Health Level: 25 percent
      2. Health Distribution: 25 percent
      3. Responsiveness: 12.5 percent
      4. Responsiveness Distribution: 12.5 percent
      5. Financial Fairness: 25 percent

      Here’s another one:

      http://www.fightingdiseases.org/pdf/Trouble%20in%20the%20Ranks.pdf

      It’s 12 pages, but I’d encourage people to read this report before placing too much weight on the WHO’s rankings.

      This one is shorter, but the source will make many on the left cringe:

      http://www.nrlc.org/news/2009/NRL05/InaccurateGrounds.html

      A few of the issues noted by the Liberty Institute are:

      “Over half the weighting of the index (62.5%) consists of evaluations of equality, rather than quality of service. The rankings tell us nothing about the ability of a health system to make sick people better; they just uphold the political consideration of achieving equal access for everyone, however poor the service.

      The rankings fail to include absolute healthcare measures such as five-year cancer survival rates. These are crucial indicators of a health system’s performance.

      In focussing so heavily on relative levels of service and funding “fairness”, the rankings inherently reward socialised, tax-funded systems in which healthcare levels may be equal, yet of a very poor quality.”

      http://www.wealth2health.org/story.aspx?id=1321&pubid=1071

  • dougo

    Hi Troy,
    I found a nice little article about the Lewin Group in the Washington Post published 7/23/09.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ar

    From the article,
    To Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House Republican whip, it is “the nonpartisan Lewin Group.” To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an “independent research firm.” To Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is “well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country.”Actually they are owned by a company called Ingenix which is a United Health subsidiary. It seems they had a little problem with the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association. Here is what they did.
    The Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a United Health subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied United Health and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the “reasonable and customary” doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.
    In January, United Health agreed to a $50 million settlement with the New York attorney general and a $350 million settlement with the AMA, covering conduct going back as far as 1994.
    This is the state of the “unbiased, non-partisan” findings by the Lewin Group. I can find no other references to the “others” you refer to besides the ranting and rambling of the House and Senate minority leaders Boehner and McConnell respectively. Not exactly non-partisan there either.
    In your reply to joawils you referenced the article from scielo and they say the French system is in need of reform. They also state the French haven't overhauled their system since 1958. They would surely need some reform by now but the French system is still much higher rated than the American system and by far score much better than Americans in health care outcome. I believe the W.H.O still ranks France #1 and America #37 and,they live longer than Americans while smoking,drinking wine and beer,eating cheese and butter and having a socialized health care system.Imagine that..
    America has always been a great country because we led the rest of the world to a better way. As it turns out,we can also learn from other countries who may have a better way. To stubbornly refuse to try another way, perhaps a better way, we will continue to pour untold trillions into insurance companies coffers,money which could go towards small business entrepreneurs starting a new business. All from the illnesses,suffering and needless deaths of Americans.

    The Republicans have vilified the Europeans for their socialist medical plans where every citizen has free or nearly free health care. They will even treat Americans capitalists when they get sick or have an accident there, and they don't charge them or if they do, it is a pittance.Check out this article from Michael Moore's website from a Canadian citizen regarding the Canadian system.
    http://www.michaelmoore.com/mustread/index.php?…
    Thanks,dougo

  • troykeith

    I commend your desire to search beyond the headlines for the truth. Is it out there? Apparently there are only a couple of readers here that strongly oppose the concept of government healthcare..

    The problem with much of this is the sheer number of conflicting reports.. Lewin is certainly not the only source suggesting that a single-pay system would force a majority onto the gov’t ticket. Given such a system, how could any private insurance firm compete with the full force and power of the federal gov’t?

    Regardless of the arguments to the contrary, many people have a fundamental opposition to the concept of such a large government program. Again I’d say, let’s at least fix the problems with what we’ve got now before jumping off the cliff on this one.

    In all fairness, I have to say that pointing to one issue with one of the sources I mentioned is all well and good, but to then cite Michael Moore as a credible source makes me question your whole argument. The bias and inaccuracies of “sicko” are handily dismissed.

    I’ve never been a big fan of the U.N. or the WHO (although they do much good in “some” areas), but the study that’s being bantered about so often lately was flawed in many respects. According to a CATO report,

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/bp/bp101.pdf

    The WHO’s index is based on five factors, weighted as follows:
    1. Health Level: 25 percent
    2. Health Distribution: 25 percent
    3. Responsiveness: 12.5 percent
    4. Responsiveness Distribution: 12.5 percent
    5. Financial Fairness: 25 percent

    Here’s another one:
    http://www.fightingdiseases.org/pdf/Trouble%20i

    It’s 12 pages, but I’d encourage people to read this report before placing too much weight on the WHO’s rankings.

    This one is shorter, but the source will make many on the left cringe:
    http://www.nrlc.org/news/2009/NRL05/InaccurateG

    A few of the issues noted by the Liberty Institute are:

    “Over half the weighting of the index (62.5%) consists of evaluations of equality, rather than quality of service. The rankings tell us nothing about the ability of a health system to make sick people better; they just uphold the political consideration of achieving equal access for everyone, however poor the service.

    The rankings fail to include absolute healthcare measures such as five-year cancer survival rates. These are crucial indicators of a health system’s performance.

    In focussing so heavily on relative levels of service and funding “fairness”, the rankings inherently reward socialised, tax-funded systems in which healthcare levels may be equal, yet of a very poor quality.”

    http://www.wealth2health.org/story.aspx?id=1321

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