They Will Run Obamacare The Same Way

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that the government running the health care in this country will make things better. I am continually amazed at how many people actually believe that the government being involved means that it will cost less money. The government does not do things at lower costs than private industry and government programs become bloated rapidly.

There is also the issue of results. Government not only runs over budget and costs more money than it should (and likewise spends more on programs than it should) it also simply does not do things very well.

Just last week the government tested the national alert system that would allow a president to speak to almost all people in this country at once in the event of an emergency. The test was announced well in advance and the planning was ongoing. The big day came and the government, those competent folks who can do it all, failed miserably. Many locations did not get the alert, other locations had no sound and some folks did not even realize the test had occurred because there was nothing to indicate it had.

The people who planned and put this in place are the same kind of people who will be running your health care. These folks cannot complete a relatively simple task of sending a message across the country. Yes, it is a complex issue but it is relatively simple when one compares it to health care. The government will fail in that venture many times over.

What government will do is become bloated and cost lots of money. This happens in all programs. Social Security should be relatively simple. Pay in, retire, and get retirement check. The government has added so many things and made so many people entitled to “benefits” that it takes an army of government workers to manage Social Security. And because it is government it takes a lot more employees than it would in the private sector.

Social Security has become bloated over decades but it does not take that long for any government program to expand. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the folks who molest you at the airports, has only been around for about ten years. A Congressional report shows it is bloated and ineffective. The report indicates there are 65,000 workers but even with all those there were 25,000 security breaches in the last decade.

In ten years the TSA has become a bloated and ineffective organization (many would argue that this occurred much earlier) and it is a relatively small organization. Compare it to what will be required when government intrudes in the health care arena and the amount of bloat and the level of ineffectiveness will be greatly multiplied.

Government is slow, cumbersome, big, wasteful, and ineffective and all government programs continue to grow each year.

Obamacare will grow into a larger program than any other redistributive effort the US has undertaken (SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc) and it will cost a lot more than any of those programs. The people who support it claim it will save money but it will not. Unfortunately, like all government programs, by the time we see that it is too expensive and does not work it will be well underway. Government usually gets the estimates wrong but does not admit it until long after it has wasted billions (if not trillions) of dollars of taxpayer money and enslaved millions of people.

Thus, enslaved to a program they are enslaved to government. Just the way the politicians want it.

Cave canem!
Never surrender, never submit.
Big Dog

Gunline

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Barry Throws In The Kitchen Sink

In his weekly address to the American People, or at least the segment who can listen to him speak without reflexively gagging, the Resident tried to link jobs to the healthcare debate. This is an old gambit, not the exclusive property of the Dems- linking a failing project to another failing project, in a negative + negative = a positive.

Sorry Mr. Resident, that does not compute- both the stimulus AND the healthcare problem are still bad ideas. Spending money we do not have is always a bad idea, whether for an individual or a person, and that is the bottom line- but it doesn’t stop our Pretender in Chief from trying.

When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process.

And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step.

That’s why I’m working closely with my economic team to explore additional options to promote job creation. And I won’t let up until those who seek jobs can find them; until businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; and until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes.

It won’t be easy. It will require us to lay a new foundation for our economy – one that gives our workers the skills and education they need to compete; that invests in renewable energy and the jobs of the future; and that makes health care affordable for families and businesses – particularly small businesses, many of which have been overwhelmed by rising health care costs.

whitehouse.gov

Blah, blah, blah- and then he tries to say that all will be rosy if we just pass the healthcare bill, which is the furthest thing from reality he could say-

Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month.

So we know that reforming our health insurance system will be a critical step in rebuilding our economy so that our entrepreneurs can pursue the American Dream again, and our small businesses can grow and expand and create new jobs again.

That is precisely what the reform legislation before Congress right now will do. Under these proposals, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now.

whitehouse.gov

Really? My visits to the doctor will help my job situation? Not so much– the last time I went to the doctor, I had to pay him- he wasn’t giving me money- so this might help the Doctor, but not so much myself. The Resident’s logic is flawed- but then it seems that is the case for most liberals, or socialists, or whatever they are now calling themselves- I call them deluded.

Case in point- Robert Reich-someone who is supposed to be intelligent, and he comes off sounding like an idiot.

So why is unemployment and underemployment so high, and why is it likely to remain high for some time? Because, as noted, people who are worried about their jobs or have no jobs, and who are also trying to get out from under a pile of debt, are not going do a lot of shopping. And businesses that don’t have customers aren’t going do a lot of new investing. And foreign nations also suffering high unemployment aren’t going to buy a lot of our goods and services.

And without customers, companies won’t hire. They’ll cut payrolls instead.

Which brings us to the obvious question: Who’s going to buy the stuff we make or the services we provide, and therefore bring jobs back? There’s only one buyer left: The government.

Let me say this as clearly and forcefully as I can: The federal government should be spending even more than it already is on roads and bridges and schools and parks and everything else we need. It should make up for cutbacks at the state level, and then some. This is the only way to put Americans back to work. We did it during the Depression. It was called the WPA.

Yes, I know. Our government is already deep in debt. But let me tell you something: When one out of six Americans is unemployed or underemployed, this is no time to worry about the debt.

robertreich.blogspot.com

Uh, yeah, right- What?!  Try saying that, but instead of government, insert the concept of an individual- when an individual is unemployed, now is not the time to worry about the individual’s debt. That doesn’t make sense does it? Neither do his next paragraphs-

When I was a small boy my father told me that I and my kids and my grand-kids would be paying down the debt created by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Depression and World War II. I didn’t even know what a debt was, but it kept me up at night.

My father was right about a lot of things, but he was wrong about this. America paid down FDR’s debt in the 1950s, when Americans went back to work, when the economy was growing again, and when our incomes grew, too. We paid taxes, and in a few years that FDR debt had shrunk to almost nothing.

robertreich.blogspot.com

Read that slowly, because it offers some insight on liberal progressives- they can’t add. If you start with the debt accumulated during the Depression, in, say 1930- and then jump forward to when Robert says we paid down that debt in the fifties- well, that is twenty years- a generation. So it would be true, despite Robert’s words, that his kids would be paying on that debt.

And that debt is nothing compared to this one- so the Resident wants us to add to the debt by piling on a trillion dollar healthscare plan- once again, I say it- Liberals can’t add, nor apparently should they be entrusted with other people’s money- because they will spend it- extravagantly. Just witness the cost for the “lost” trip to Copenhagen- millions of dollars wasted- and the Resident apparently doesn’t think that is a big deal. What ignorant arrogance.

The Resident could have made a difference- but instead chose to help out his cronies, ACORN, the Unions, and all the rest of the goons that helped him get elected. But he has forgotten one thing- or perhaps it just never occurred to an Ego like his- it is not about him- it is about the people of this country, all the people of this country.

And if the people are pushing back this hard, there is probably a very good reason.

Perhaps he should find out what that reason might be.

I’m just saying.

Blake

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What’s Right, and What’s Wrong

The Liberal Democrat wing of Congress keeps trying to put the square peg of a public option into the round hole that is health care, and cannot seem to grasp that it just won’t fit- I guess they are just not smart enough- perhaps they need healthcare to fix that stubborn moronic condition- if it turns out to be genetic, John Holdren will sterilize their families. Gladly- our own little Dr. Mengele is always glad to play God.

In the meantime, you might think that Congress would  actually look at what works, and what does not, in the world of Healthcare- but apparently, once the ideological concrete sets, no jackhammer of logic will work on it.

First, let’s look at what does not work- the Canadian public option.

When the pain in Christina Woodkey’s legs became so severe that she could no longer hike or cross-country ski, she went to her local health clinic. The Calgary, Canada, resident was told she’d need to see a hip specialist. Because the problem was not life-threatening, however, she’d have to wait about a year.

So wait she did.

In January, the hip doctor told her that a narrowing of the spine was compressing her nerves and causing the pain. She needed a back specialist. The appointment was set for Sept. 30. ‘When I was given that date, I asked when could I expect to have surgery,’ said Woodkey, 72. ‘They said it would be a year and a half after I had seen this doctor.’

So this month, she drove across the border into Montana and got the $50,000 surgery done in two days. ‘I don’t have insurance. We’re not allowed to have private health insurance in Canada,’ Woodkey said. ‘It’s not going to be easy to come up with the money. But I’m happy to say the pain is almost all gone.’

online.wsj.com

What has to hurt almost as much as the pain itself is the dismissive attitude of cost- cutting bureaucrats- people that liberals say, like the yeti or UFOs, do not exist.  Waiting for treatment just has to suck- perhaps Congress should try that.

Whereas U.S. healthcare is predominantly a private system paid for by private insurers, things in Canada tend toward the other end of the spectrum: A universal, government-funded health system is only beginning to flirt with private-sector medicine.

Hoping to capitalize on patients who might otherwise go to the U.S. for speedier care, a network of technically illegal private clinics and surgical centers has sprung up in British Columbia, echoing a trend in Quebec. In October, the courts will be asked to decide whether the budding system should be sanctioned. More than 70 private health providers in British Columbia now schedule simple surgeries and tests such as MRIs with waits as short as a week or two, compared with the months it takes for a public surgical suite to become available for nonessential operations.

online.wsj.com

Well there- the Canadian system sucks, that is plain- as the liberals are fond of saying, “The debate is settled.” but there must surely be something that does work, at least better than Canada, right? Anything is better than that.

And yes, there is something better-

Like every other country in Europe, Switzerland guarantees health care for all its citizens. But the system here does not remotely resemble the model of bureaucratic, socialized medicine often cited by opponents of universal coverage in the United States.

Swiss private insurers are required to offer coverage to all citizens, regardless of age or medical history. And those people, in turn, are obligated to buy health insurance.

That is why many academics who have studied the Swiss health care system have pointed to this Alpine nation of about 7.5 million as a model that delivers much of what Washington is aiming to accomplish — without the contentious option of a government-run health insurance plan.

In Congress, the Senate Finance Committee is dealing with legislation proposed by its chairman, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, which would require nearly all Americans to buy health insurance, but stops short of the government-run insurance option that is still strongly supported by liberal Democrats.

nytimes.com

Yes, folks, the Swiss system is better in many ways than the Canadian system, and has things to offer the US system that could be incorporated without destroying the whole system- after all this capitalistic system, while flawed, has led to medical breakthroughs that otherwise would not have happened without the system of profitability available here. Controlled greed can be a good thing- it drives innovation.

By many measures, the Swiss are healthier than Americans, and surveys indicate that Swiss people are generally happy with their system. Switzerland, moreover, provides high-quality care at costs well below what the United States spends per person. Swiss insurance companies offer the mandatory basic plan on a not-for-profit basis, although they are permitted to earn a profit on supplemental plans.

And yet, as a potential model for the United States, the Swiss health care system involves some important trade-offs that American consumers, insurers and health care providers might find hard to swallow.

The Swiss government does not “ration care” — that populist bogeyman in the American debate — but it does keep down overall spending by regulating drug prices and fees for lab tests and medical devices. It also requires patients to share some costs — at a higher level than in the United States — so they have an incentive to avoid unnecessary treatments. And some doctors grumble that cost controls are making it harder these days for a physician to make a franc.

The Swiss government also provides direct cash subsidies to people if health insurance equals more than 8 percent of personal income, and about 35 to 40 percent of households get some form of subsidy. In some cases, employers contribute part of the insurance premium, but, unlike in the United States, they do not receive a tax break for it. (All the health care proposals in Congress would provide a subsidy to moderate-income Americans.)

nytimes.com

Good AND bad- as are most things, it seems there are pluses and minuses to even the Swiss plan. This is why we should cherry- pick what does work, and then apply this to our plans, instead of crafting something out of whole cloth that doesn’t fit. But apparently that doesn’t work for the Egos on Capitol Hill. Many, if not most, are working for their own glory, and barely have the people in mind when they plan these things.

There are also parts of the Swiss plan that some groups might find objectionable, like the elderly.

Unlike the United States, where the Medicare program for the elderly costs taxpayers about $500 billion a year, Switzerland has no special break for older Swiss people beyond the general subsidy.

“Switzerland’s health care system is different from virtually every other country in the world,” said Regina Herzlinger, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied the Swiss approach extensively.

nytimes.com

Yeahhhhhhhh- not so much- many older people need the Medicare subsidy, even though the roots of that program are socialist, as is Social Security and, to a lesser extent, Medicaid. But since the programs have been institutionalized in our society, they would be hard to root out, so they would need to be incorporated, not cut without a viable alternative.

The Swiss approach is also popular with patients like Frieda Burgstaller, 72, who says she likes the freedom of choice and access that the private system provides. “If the doctor says it has to be done, it’s done,” said Mrs. Burgstaller. “You don’t wait. And it’s covered.”

While many patients seem content, the burdens fall more heavily on doctors, especially general practitioners and pediatricians.

Dr. Gerlinde Schurter, Mrs. Burgstaller’s physician, says she feels squeezed by government regulators and insurance companies that have fought to hold down costs — most recently with a 15 percent cut in lab fees that forced her five-member group to lay off its principal technician.

Dr. Schurter also fears a so-called blue letter, a warning from an insurance company that she is prescribing too many drugs or expensive procedures.

If doctors cannot justify their treatments, they can be forced to repay insurers for a portion of the medical services prescribed. And while prescriptions are covered, the government has insisted that consumers fork over a 20 percent co-payment if they want brand-name drugs, rather than 10 percent for generics.

Similarly, the government health office also lowered reimbursements across the board for medical devices in 2006.

nytimes.com

Punishing Doctors is not a good thing, especially if you, as the government, are refusing to address the problem of  frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of Malpractice insurance. Tort reform has to be a pivotal part of this formula. If the doctors are going to have to earn less, so should the lawyers. The lawyers are a driver of the unnecessary overhead in terms of costs to insurance companies, and doctors. 

If you cannot control costs in all three of these areas, there will be no improvement- it has to be all three, or it will not work. Still, there is a downside in terms of cost, relative to the Swiss system.

Still, along with lower costs and the freedom to choose doctors come bigger bills for individual patients. On average, out-of-pocket payments come to $1,350 annually. That is the highest among the 30 countries tracked by the O.E.C.D. and well above the $890 average for the United States, which comes in second.

Then there are the hefty prices of the insurance policies themselves, which can top 14,000 Swiss francs a year for a family of four in Zurich, or about $13,600. That is roughly comparable to the national average annual premium for a family policy under employer-sponsored group plans in the United States, but in high-cost American cities the figure can be much higher.

Direct comparisons are hard to make, however, because in the American system, employers and employees share the cost of premiums, which are also exempt from individual and corporate income taxes.

nytimes.com

Good and bad- there is no system that fits everyone, so why try? What we need to do is find what fits the greatest amount of people.  There are parts of the Swiss system that are worth consideration- there might be other things that also merit discussion, but what Congress is attempting to do right now is to make sausage without a recipe, not a good idea at all, and doomed to failure. Even if they manage to actually make the sausage, there is absolutely no guarantee that we, as a nation, will be able to stomach what they are cooking up.

We really need to have a recipe before we begin to make this sausage.

Because we are going to have to chew on this for a long time, it needs to taste at least tolerable.

Blake

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You Better Think Like Me

John Mackey, the CEO of that liberal bastion of gorp and grain, Whole Foods Market, has dared express his opinion of the Hussein Healthscare option, and lo and behold, he is not in lockstep with the rest of his zombie brethren.

That has the ultra- liberals grabbing pitchforks and torches to pursue this heretic into the swamp. They need to capture him to feed the Axlerod and the Emanuel, both carnivores who are not too picky who they chew on.

An organic CEO should taste just fine.

The grocery store Whole Foods is facing a boycott organized by liberal activists because the CEO opposes President Obama’s health care reform proposals. The company’s chief executive,John Mackey, wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed on health care that has roiled the liberal blogosphere and prompted calls for a boycott.

“While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system,” Mackey wrote in the WSJ.

politicsdaily.com

Wow- a liberal who gets it- this should be ground-breaking– perhaps some other liberals might listen. No? Actually, even for expressing his private opinion, Mr. Mackey is facing a boycott of his store- as if this action doesn’t hurt the other people who work there more. After all, if Whole Foods suffers a loss, do you really think that he will fire himself? Or perhaps just lay off someone who really needs the paycheck. I mean, who do you think you are hurting here?

After all, the man is expressing his private opinion, but in the Land of Hussein, you must have group- think or die.

“Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction — toward less government control and more individual empowerment.” 

The boycott leaders are organizing via the Huffington Post. To me, it’s pretty basic: Mackey is working to oppose things I believe in, so I should stop giving him money,” wrote Ben Wyskida, who also works for the liberal magazine, The NationIn a column titled “Why I’m Done with Whole Foods,” he said: “Mackey has confirmed for me that my money is going to support deregulation of the insurance industry, lies about the current health care proposal, and a crusade to lecture people who can’t access or can’t afford healthy food. I’m just not going to go there.”

politicsdaily.com

Yep, all the liberal bloggers are going to go without their granola for a week, just to make a point to Mr. Mackey that they are mad that he could have a reality-based opinion derived from real- world experiences of running a company, not just blogging from his parent’s basement with posters of Che taped to the dank walls. Just as an aside to all the self-righteous libs who “eat organic” (sorry, John- truth must be told)- regular produce is just as healthy, and cheaper too.

Here’s what I do not understand about liberals- I might not agree with 99% of Mr.Mackey’s ideology, indeed I might feel differently about his approach to healthcare, although I do agree that people’s personal lifestyle choices have a lot to do with their health outcomes, but the way I see it, that’s life and that’s a part of freedom in these United States- you can make those bad choices if you so wish- at least for now.

But apparently, if you are liberal, you had better not express any opinion different from the rest of the pack.

Or they will tear you to pieces- there’s an Axlerod that needs feeding, and it’s not picky about what it eats.

Blake

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Demonization

That is what Democrats AND Republicans do to their opponents, but The Resident has raised this to an art form- Demon for a Day- as if the American public has a giant case of ADD, and can conveniently disremember the previous day’s demon. As his big push for Healthcare sinks, he has resorted to several “demons”- first saying it was obstructionist conservatives (it is true we have objections), then it was “manufactured” mobs at town hall meetings. When it was revealed that it was the liberals who were bussed in, wearing nice uniform tee- shirts that loudly proclaimed their union affiliations, he dropped that canard.

Now it is the insurance companies that have become the boogey- man in this debate, and this characterization comes AFTER the Resident had reached an agreement with both the insurance lobby, and big Pharma to come on board. Boy oh boy, if this is how you treat your friends and allies, I’ll pass.

The truth about insurance, the ugly little secret that Barry won’t admit, is that the insurance companies are supposed to make money. I know- shocking isn’t it? In a capitalist society, for a company to make money is just ridiculous. The fact that they do help people while they make money, seems to be lost in the screaming and demonization that the companies must endure.

Central to this anti- insurance feeling seems to be the practice of dropping people after they have gone through a bout with something like Cancer. I understand- I don’t like it- it happened to me, but I understand why they did it.

Cancer surgery and Chemo and radiation therapy is extremely costly, and insurance companies are prohibited from dropping coverage during the treatment phase, which ensures that the full treatment is administered (it would also be bad publicity). But after the patient has been cleared, the insurance company can declare that it has fulfilled its duty to the customer and drop them from the coverage they had. 

This is because, as we all know too well, the cancer can, and often does return after a remission of five to ten years, and the company doesn’t want to take the risk.

In 1997, I had a blockage in my large intestine- it ruptured, causing pain like I have never before experienced, with the same effects as being shot in the gut. I had to have emergency surgery, and, before all was said and done, three more additional surgeries to get myself back to what could be ( if you really stretched the definition) defined as a normal life. All of this in a year and a half, at what would have been a cost of about $125,000 for the total cost.

And the insurance company stayed with me even after all of that. The company was, if I recall right, United Healthcare- and they were good- they had paid for all my in- home costs for antibiotics that I needed for two months straight, with  home delivery. They were great- and then, in 2000, I found a spot on my arm- you know, the same arm that you prop on the windowsill when you are driving down the road.

Ever since I had turned forty, I had been going to a dermatologist to have a yearly checkup. Being a carpenter, working in the broiling Texas sun for thirty- five years, I figured that checkups were a good idea- and the Doc had showed me to self examine, so I did. One day, I found a spot I couldn’t recall had been there, and it set off bells in my head, so I went and had it removed for biopsy.

I had had others removed before and they were nothing, but two days later, the Doctor called me at work at seven in the morning- that’s not a good sign, by the way- and told me that I had an aggressive skin cancer- dermo- plastic malignant melanoma, and He was going to get me into M.D. Anderson hospital right away, because it couldn’t wait.

Long story short, I had it removed, went through all my treatments, and was declared clear, and at that point, the insurance company dropped me- don’t get me wrong- they had several reasons for doing so, as I was on the insurance through my wife’s employer, and in the middle of all of this she had changed jobs, but we were able to keep the insurance through all of this despite all of the job changing and COBRA paperwork.

The insurance company was very nice through all of this, but I understand why they dropped me. Now- would I like to have had another company willing to carry me? Heck yes- I may understand why a company drops someone, but there should be a pool group for higher risk people,and the insurance carriers could pool money and spread the risk around. They might even have a pool of money to cover emergency room costs, to help defray the cost of those who need those services. If the government would match dollar for dollar what the insurance carriers pony up, we might be able to do that, and that would certainly be cheaper than what they are proposing now.

I am not an insurance person- I wouldn’t know an actuarial table if it bit me, but there should be a way to do this without scrapping the system, because if this current system is totally scrapped, then innovations will be much slower to come out on the market. We will, in effect, be treating today’s illnesses with yesterday’s medications, because there will be no innovations.

And it will be the innovations that will eventually incentivize the insurance companies to not drop people because of high risks-because there will be new, innovative medicines to reduce the risks to acceptable ones. And conditions that were uncurable will become curable.

But only if all the companies can make a profit.

Because Healthcare is not a hobby.
Blake

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