Shouting from the Rooftops to be Heard in the Debate over Health Care
Chicken Little is not a story to emulate
The Debate on Health Care is over. At least that is what the hard-left Democrats and their lackeys and lickspittles in the Pravda Media tell us. This was a surprise to me, since I never saw the debate, heard it, or read it. I have a television. I watch the news. I am on the Internet. Man, am I ever on the Internet! No debate there! When was it? Where was the debate? Who debated on each side of the debate? Why am I thinking that I’ve been hoodwinked, flim-flammed, bamboozled, and given the old okey-doke with a wink and a sly, ravenous grin?
Foxy Loxy said “Hello Girls, don’t you look like a dainty dish today!”
This panicked rush to legislate a thousand-page, Obamacare “fix” for medical care that will get re-jiggered in reconciliation (that means the smokey back room where Congressional hacks hide their nasty surprises in the bills with even less transparency than usual) gives me the feeling that I’m caught in the cautionary tale Chicken Little.
The skinny pipsqueak Chicken Little screamed “the sky is falling!” with such convincing, bloodcurdling fright she infected all the other farm animals with panic. They fled the farm for the woods and met the smooth-talking Foxy Loxy, who led them all into his lair to be out of the open. “Never mind the bones and the smell of death in the corner, girls,” Foxy Loxy whispers. “The sky can’t fall on you in here.” Well, we all know what happened to Lucy Goosey, Henny Penny and Lucky Ducky. They ended up as Foxy Loxy’s lunch. Chicken Little escaped though.
Chicken Little is not a story to emulate. It is not one I intend to relive, if that is even the right word, with my wife and children. Perhaps “repeat,” as in “those who forget history are condemend to repeat it,” is the right word. I intend to scream “NO” from the rooftops at the Chicken Littles. Let their imaginary sky-chunks fall on my head. I know I’m safer under the sky than in Foxy Loxy’s lair, or in Congress’ hidden lair where they reconcile the Obamacare bill into its final, nightmarish form.
To the proponents of Obamacare I plead, if you want to live out a Kafka story in your doctor’s office, please, just move to Canada and have at it. Leave my doctor’s office alone!
We do, after all, know the history of what happens when countries replace a free market in health care with a government run insurer. Private insurers cannot afford to continue and drop out of the business. Employers throw employees on the public system. There is a two-tiered medical system. Rich people and government employees get top-notch care. Everybody else goes to the Kafka Clinic. Doctors quit the profession. They emigrate if they can. Doctors who stay in business cut their hours drastically. Pharmaceutical companies do not do any research on new drugs. Even if they did, it wouldn’t help because government bureaucrats do not approve payments for new drugs to treat anything. Government rations health care, and decides whether people are allowed to receive treatment or will just be given painkillers while they die, or perhaps are directed to an assisted suicide center. Death is cheaper than living, after all, to unaccountable government bureaucrats. At least, as long as it’s your death we’re talking about instead of theirs’. The cost of health insurance doubles when it is collected through the tax system, approximately, and government health insurance service in comparison makes the DMV look like the service desks at Wal-Mart, where you can return anything that any Wal-Mart sells even without a price tag on it, let alone a receipt. That is the height of luxury compared to the Kafkaesque nightmare suffered by those in the bowels of the government run health care system.
What are the problems with health care in the US? I’ve often wondered why the problems I see with health insurance don’t seem to be the problems that hard-left ideologues in the Democrat party see. From what I understand the debating points about Health Care are only found on the Obama post-campaign-campaign Organizing for America site (!). I have enclosed the entire debate as it exists.
The Current Situation
Making sure every American has access to high quality health care is one of the most important challenges of our time. The number of uninsured Americans is growing, premiums are skyrocketing, and more people are being denied coverage every day. A moral imperative by any measure, a better system is also essential to rebuilding our economy — we want to make health insurance work for people and businesses, not just insurance and drug companies.
- Reform the health care system:We will take steps to reform our system by expanding coverage, improving quality, lowering costs, honoring patient choice and holding insurance companies accountable.
- Promote scientific and technological advancements:We are committed to putting responsible science and technological innovation ahead of ideology when it comes to medical research. We believe in the enormous capacity of American ingenuity to find cures for diseases that continue to extinguish too many lives and cause too much suffering every year.
- Improve preventative care:In order to keep our people healthy and provide more efficient treatment we need to promote smart preventative care, like cancer screenings and better nutrition, and make critical investments in electronic health records, technology that can reduce errors while ensuring privacy and saving lives.
According to the evidence of the Debate, the main problems with Health Care are:
- The number of uninsured Americans is growing,
- Premiums are skyrocketing,
- And more people are being denied coverage every day.
- Changing it is a moral imperative
- A better system is also essential to rebuilding our economy
- We want to make health insurance work for people and businesses, not just insurance and drug companies.
Let’s go over these serious problems one at a time.
1. The number of uninsured Americans is growing
Yes, every time Obamanomics drives another person into unemployment the number of uninsured Americans rises. Unemployment has been rising ever since the far-left Democrats took over Congress in 2007, creating the same crisis the far-left Democrats are trying to use to panic us into giving them the 54% of health care the government doesn’t already control. It’s funny how that works, isnt’ it? The same gang of hacks that creates a problem wants to be given extraordinary powers to get rid of the same problem they have been so busy creating in the first place!
Fact is, the 45-47 million uninsured Americans so frequently ciited consist of 10 million non-Americans, 14 million people who are eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid but never enrolled, and 17.6 million of those who make over $50K but do not want to pay for insurance. The remainder includes people who are really uninsured for the entire year plus those who were temporarily uninsured between jobs. And Obamacare won’t insure all 47 million of those cited people anyway. It will insure 13 million of them, leaving 33 million still uninsured under Obamacare, which is going to cost a trillion or more over ten years. You know, if you just buy a group insurance policy for those 13 million you’d be spending more in the neighborhood of 26 billion per year to do it. That costs a lot less over ten years than a trillion dollars.
2. Premiums are skyrocketing
How about a story?
Imagine you are the CEO of an insurance company. Your company offers a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance Plan to individuals and employers. You also offer Malpractice Insurance to doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers. OK? Now imagine that an ambulance-chasing lawyer like John “voice of the unborn” Edwards sues one of your doctors and wins 50 million dollars that you have to pay out. Tragic, right? Not really. The next year you increase the malpractice premiums to cover your $50 million loss. Doctors demand increased payments to reimburse them for their increased insurance bill and for all the trendy and expensive tests they have to run to cover themselves against more lawsuits. So you increase the BC/BS Insurance rates you charge individuals and employers. Every year you pay out less than $50 million in malpractice awards you collect the difference in profit. If you ever pay out more than $50 million in a year, you increase next year’s malpractice insurance to cover the difference.
The cycle repeats. Ambulance chasing lawyers extort money out of insurance companies. Insurance companies charge more to doctors. Doctors charge more to insurance companies. Insurance companies charge more to consumers and employers.
At the end of several years of this, the insurance company gets easy profit when lawsuits are below previous levels. But no matter what, they are collecting more in premiums from both consumer and provider than they used to, before the cycle of lawsuits and rate increases started. Their gross income is higher. If malpractice payouts are unpredictable, the difference between malpractice collections and payments will frequently result in large windfall profits. And if they aim at a 10% profit, 10% of a much higher gross is a much higher profit to report on their annual reports. That means big bonuses for executives.
There is one way to stop this cycle of lawsuit abuse. It’s called tort reform. Obviously ambulance chasing, flim-flamming lawyers like John Edwards don’t like this idea. He, after all, was netting $11 million a year with his 40% cut of lawsuit proceeds for many years in the 1990s, by claiming that toddlers with cerebral palsy got it because the ob/gyn that delivered them let them be born naturally instead of cutting them out with a c-section. There is no scientific evidence that natural childbirth is a credible cause of CP. Actually, c-sections increase the risk of CP in the infant. The incidence of CP is lower in less developed countries where few c-sections are performed. But because Edwards was a handsome, charming and homespun hornswoggler, and because he often and infamously channeled the voice of the unborn child during delivery, he was able to hoodwink juries into giving huge awards to his clients. And he took 40% of those huge fees home to his 28,000 square foot mansion.
Tort reform works. My home state of Mississippi, which had previously had no caps on damages or penalties and was a plaintiff’s dream state, passed tort reform in 2004. From the ATRA website:
The Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi (MACM), which provides medical malpractice insurance to about 70 percent of doctors in the state, announced a 5-percent decrease in premiums for 2006 (The Natchez Democrat, 10/19/05). MACM did not raise base premiums in 2004 or 2005, and previously had been raising rates annually up to 20 percent (Associated Press, 9/24/04).
Medical malpractice insurance premiums had been rising in Mississippi at 20% per year before tort reform. After tort reform they stopped the first year, then dropped by 5%. I can’t find what happened in even later years, but I know that the number of ob/gyns in my part of Mississippi has not dropped since like it was doing before the reform.
And tort reform doesn’t just lower the cost of going to the doctor. It lowers the cost of doing all kinds of business. Manufacturers came to Mississippi after the reforms of 2004. We needed those manufacturers and the jobs they brought with them when Hurricane Katrina devastated the state the next year. Just imagine how slow rebuilding would have been without decent jobs to employ people whose homes had been severely damaged or destroyed.
How much money would tort reform take out of a non-productive part of the economy (insurance and lawyers) and restore to a productive part of the economy (the consumer’s pocketbook)?
Tort reform isn’t the only tool in the toolbox. Let’s also look at the FDA, Medicaid/Medicare/SCHIP, and employer-paid insurance.
Changing the mission of the FDA to establishing food and drug safety, with truth in advertising claims being handled through the civil courts, would vastly reduce the cost of pharmaceutical R&D and the consumer’s price of pharmaceuticals. If a drug is safe for a guy to take, why is it the government’s business whether he uses it to lower his blood pressure or regrow hair? It’s his doctor’s business and his what they use a drug for, yet the government gets involved with its regulations. Tort reform would also reduce the costs of prescription drugs to Americans. Fore more ideas about pharmaceuticals see here.
Before voting in Obamacare to ruin our health care forever, fix Medicaid first. It’s much smaller than Obamacare and it is already broken by the same things that will break Obamacare. If someone can find a way to repair Medicaid, other than imposing a much larger version of Medicaid doomed to fail even more cataclysmicly than Medicaid and Medicare, they will have the credibility to tackle health care for the portion of the nation that still pays its own bills. While at it, tackle SCHIP and Medicare as well as the VA system.
Also, insurance needs to be decoupled from employment by letting other organizations that are made of freely associating members, such as civic organizations, clubs, private gyms, and other such organizations, obtain 100% tax deductible group insurance plans, from any insurer in any state, for members and their families. The availability of health insurance that doesn’t go away when you lose your job would immediately increase entrepreneurship, spur job creation, and lower the cost of insurance and health care since people would have to pay the whole bill out of their own pocket.
3. And more people are being denied coverage every day.
This is a complaint about insurance company bureaucracy denying payment for a covered sick person because of some shady loophole snuck into a contract in a smokey room far away from all oversight. Is putting the government in charge of all health care decisions really going to make the bureaucracy better, more efficient, kinder, and the smokey rooms more transparent to oversight? How, by taking more money from the pockets of the people and giving it to those bureaucrats and Congressional hacks?
Actually, the truth is that government health plans always ration care.
4. Changing it is a moral imperative
Yes, getting the government out of health care is a moral imperative. 46% of every health care dollar is spent by government now. Every health dollar is regulated to death so badly that I’d guess half of them are wasted on unnecessary paperwork and tests. Once again it demonstrates the truth that Democrats want the government to take more money out of the pockets of the people for the pleasure of federal government bureaucrats hidden away in their Kafkaesque mazes of modular furniture.
5. A better system is also essential to rebuilding our economy
Huh? How about those far left “progressive” Democrat ideologues stop destroying the economy before we let them have a whack at health care with their unworkable, many-times-failed socialist schemes?
The American people trusted Democrats more with the economy than they trusted Republicans. I don’t think they’ll make that mistake again, not for a long time. George W. Bush and his Congress spent like drunkards, but once Congress got turned over to the Democrats in 2007 everything went to perdition. Housing collapse followed by banking collapse followed by automaker collapse followed by bloodthirsty takeovers of business after business by the federal government in a panic driven charge toward total command-economy fascism. Is that what Hope and Change meant to voters, or did they have a more benign idea about what it meant? I don’t think the voters expected this!
6. We want to make health insurance work for people and businesses, not just insurance and drug companies.
When the government takes over business roles from the private sector it is a great danger to the economy. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the abusive government policies that aggravated their flaws brought down the world economy last year. From what I have seen the far-left Democrats want to take more money from the pockets of the people and give it to slow-moving government bureaucrats. That doesn’t help anybody’s health. I want to make health insurance work for consumers and providers, and not particularly for insurance, employers, the far-left unions and their pet Democrats, or the leviathan of government. Consumers and medical providers are doing God’s work. The rest of them are just vacuuming protection money out of the pockets of the people. The best way to help consumers and providers is to stop government meddling.
Government interference in health care adds tons of paperwork so that no busy doctor’s office can ever get by with only one person spending all their time doing paperwork. You need at least two. Every time I see my primary care doctor I have to deal with a clerk, a nurses’ assistant, and an office manager who just take care of paperwork. Where does the money come from to pay for them? How much does their piece of the puzzle add to my health care budget? How much does it improve my health? Government paperwork requirements need to be cut by 90% or more. The page count of government regulations also needs to be slashed. Currently, with tens of thousands of pages of government regulations it is literally impossible to know when you are breaking the law. This means that the law has become impossible to obey, and people hold it in contempt. The federal regulations need to be cut to no more than 100 8×5 pages of 10pt Times Roman, and limited forever to the same page count (no changes in font size or margin size allowed either).
The Obamacare argument finishes with its solutions.
- Reform the health care system
- Promote scientific and technological advancements
- Improve preventative care
To which I answer
- Reform the health care system by kicking government out of it. Government already spends half the money in the system and regulates every single dime in it. That amounts to total government control of the system. If the health care system is broken, it isn’t because there is too little government, but too much.
- Promote scientific and technological advancements by using the profit motive so that pharmaceutical firms continue to conduct research and development. Change the FDA so it stops standing on pharmaceutical firms’ necks. Government price control of pharmaceuticals will kill off the world’s pharmaceutical industry, which only exists to any degree in the US.
- Improving preventative care will increase costs and improve human lives. I think that’s worth the trade-off. But this flies in the face of actual history, that teaches us that all government health plans ration medical care. All. Of. Them.
Don’t be hoodwinked, flim-flammed, bamboozled, and given the old okey-doke. Obamacare may promise great things, but it is just another far-left Democrat scheme to take money from the pockets of the people for the pleasure of government bureaucrats.