Fuck America’s Health Insurance Companies

August 17, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Posted in American politics | 28 Comments

That’s all I have to say about that.

28 Comments »

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  1. Hehe. I see why you call yourself the good Democrat. Excellent job toeing the party line there, you good Democrat. I expect that you’re eagerly awaiting your marching orders for the next target of Two Minutes Hate. :)

  2. I’m toeing the party line? Based on saying to fuck America’s insurance companies? You think that is the Democratic party line?

  3. Let’s see, Nancy Pelosi recently went on a tirade calling private insurance companies villains. Numerous Democrat politicians are on the record saying they wish to eliminate private insurance. The president himself has said that. The Yale professor who developed the public option idea and influenced Obama has said that’s the goal. The DNC recently released an ad accusing the insurance companies of manufacturing the health care reform protests. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that “F*** the insurance companies” is a standard Democrat party line.

    Before, it was “F*** the evil pharmaceutical companies that are making all the drugs saving everyone’s life”. But I guess they’re cool now because they’re backing ObamaCare. Every time the gas prices go up, it’s “F*** the evil oil companies for digging into the ground, sucking up oil, and distributing it at a price that people are willing to pay for it. Let’s investigate their evil 10% profit margin.” Oh yeah, let’s not forget “F*** the evil coal companies for mining all that coal that’s powering everyone’s houses. We should definitely bankrupt them.” Oh, and it’s always “F*** the rich people for working hard their entire lives and getting to a point in their careers where they can finally be considered rich.”

  4. Sorry Harry, but I think somebody should be allowed to f… the insurance companies and not be labeled toeing the party line. There are a lot of aspects about private health insurance companies that need to be addressed. Some days they’re ok, others I feel the same as Daniel. As with the other things you say…come on! Just because things have been done one way for so long doesn’t mean they can’t be overhauled for something better! If we can find a way to power our daily lives with something that’s cleaner and better for everyone and the planet I think that’s a good goal. And yes it’s great that there are people out there who are smart, well-connected, and now rich…I don’t belittle them, but not everyone has the knack, talents, circumstances, opportunity as others…so I guess you are also toeing your party line??

  5. When he calls himself “The Good Democrat” and then demonizes an entire industry that the Democrat party has been demonizing and gives no rationale, he doesn’t exactly come off as an independent thinker. Of course there are aspects that need to be addressed, but that doesn’t require an attitude of “F*** the entire industry” or worse, “Let’s destroy the entire industry”.

    One doesn’t need to be a protectionist to oppose government attempts to intentionally destroy entire industries. I would love a clean alternative to coal, but that’s not going to happen by having the government intentionally destroy the industry (as Obama once said he would do). What’s going to replace it? The technology just isn’t there yet. When fossil fuels are replaced, it will be thanks to techn0logy innovations that have yet to take place. All that government dismantling of the coal industry would do is further screw up the economy, and what do you think that will do to R&D capital?

    I’m not sure which party line I would be toeing. I’m an independent. If my views happen to align with one party or another, that’s coincidence.

  6. Harry,

    Numerous Democrat politicians are on the record saying they wish to eliminate private insurance.

    Really? Can you show me your evidence. Oh and, yes, health insurance companies ARE the villains. As for the rest, nah, there are villains in each industry, but few industries truly stand out as villains. America’s health insurance industry is one.

  7. Harry,

    When he calls himself “The Good Democrat” and then demonizes an entire industry that the Democrat party has been demonizing and gives no rationale, he doesn’t exactly come off as an independent thinker.

    That’s not exactly sound logic. Just because in this one instance my views converge with the general thrust of the Democratic party does not mean I toe the line with the Democratic party. If you were to look at my blog, you’ll see I call Harry Reid a coward on numerous occasions for, well, being a coward. Furthermore, being an independent thinker doesn’t equal constantly being against the thoughts of someone else. That’s not a sign of independent thinking.

    Of course there are aspects that need to be addressed, but that doesn’t require an attitude of “F*** the entire industry” or worse, “Let’s destroy the entire industry”.

    No, just the ones whose organizational culture is to prioritize maximizing profits over taking care of patients. Fuck them, and destroy their industry.

    (as Obama once said he would do). What’s going to replace it?

    In terms of health care, Obama has said he is willing to work within the framework America already employs, and I am fine with that. Just change the laws to require insurance companies to insure everyone without prejudice. That’s my standard.

  8. “Really? Can you show me your evidence.”

    Just today, Anthony Weiner admitted it: http://themoderatevoice.com/43558/anthony-weiner-tears-off-the-mask/

    Here’s Barney Frank: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3BS4C9el98

    Russ Feingold: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxa4dgwnzS0

    Kathleen Sebelius (though no longer a politician, she is HHS Secretary): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOyNCnN3NRg

    Jan Schakowsky, Jacob Hacker (the professor who inspired Obama’s plan), and most importantly, Obama himself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ-6ebku3_E

    “That’s not exactly sound logic. Just because in this one instance my views converge with the general thrust of the Democratic party does not mean I toe the line with the Democratic party. If you were to look at my blog, you’ll see I call Harry Reid a coward on numerous occasions for, well, being a coward. Furthermore, being an independent thinker doesn’t equal constantly being against the thoughts of someone else. That’s not a sign of independent thinking.”

    You might want to change your name then. The Good Democrat- sounds kind of like the good German. It doesn’t exactly signal that you put universal principles over self-interested political parties. That and the “F*** the industry” post devoid of any rationale is reminiscent of something one would find on a Democrat parody blog. I just found that humorous. But first impressions can be deceiving, so if calling Harry Reid a wimp makes you independent-minded, I’ll take your word for it.

    “Just change the laws to require insurance companies to insure everyone without prejudice. That’s my standard.”

    You know- there is a non-evil reason for this. They are insurance companies- their purpose is to insure against risk. You can’t call a fire insurance company while your house is burning down, buy insurance, and expect them to cover your losses. Sucks to be that person for sure, but why aren’t fire insurance companies evil for doing the same thing? If they had such mandates, why would anybody bother to get insurance until it was too late? Where would the money to fill the claims come from? In fact, that sounds like a great way to bankrupt the fire insurance industry. Hmm…

    “Oh and, yes, health insurance companies ARE the villains.”

    If you feel their product is evil, you can simply choose not to buy it.

  9. Harry,

    Really? Anthony Weiner admitted to wanting to wipe out all insurance companies? Because reading that transcript that’s not what came out at all. Remember, he said he wanted to expand Medicare (which I’m all for), but Medicare is government paid insurance to private run doctors. The only way private insurers would lose out is if they offer a crappy product (which they currently do—hence why they love the status quo: offer a crappy product which few if any can get out of, and make off like bandits).

    so if calling Harry Reid a wimp makes you independent-minded, I’ll take your word for it.

    No, that’s not what makes me independent. It just shows that I don’t toe the line.

    You know- there is a non-evil reason for this. They are insurance companies- their purpose is to insure against risk.

    hence why they are no good for the purpose of having insurance and should be done away with. It’s not a matter of insuring against risk, but insuring when people need it most. It is not the American way of life for a family to be bankrupt over health care costs. It just isn’t. It is against the American way.

    In fact, that sounds like a great way to bankrupt the fire insurance industry. Hmm…

    Or have the government take care of that risk.

    Harry, you ought to know why I wrote this post. I wrote it as I was watching Michael Moore’s “Sicko” his documentary about the health care industry. Proving quite easily that health care insurers are in it for the money rather than for caring for the sick and afflicted, I couldn’t help but say “fuck the American health care industry.” And that is my stance until they change their ways. Fuck them.

    In any case, one expatriate American in Paris who Mr. Moore interviewed stated a most fascinating difference between the French and the Americans vis a vis their governments. In France, the government is afraid of the people. In America, the people are afraid of the government. Thus in France, the people can get the government to do exactly what they want, whereas in America, the people are too afraid of the government, and thus the government doesn’t do jack shit for them.

    It’s time for Americans to stop fearing the government and make the government work for them.

  10. “Really? Anthony Weiner admitted to wanting to wipe out all insurance companies? Because reading that transcript that’s not what came out at all.”

    Sounds to me like that’s what he’s saying.

    S: But you are making the conservatives’ point. You are making the point of the people at the town hall meetings who say this is Barack Obama’s opportunity to get rid of private health care and turn it completely over to the government. I’m sitting here stunned, saying Oh My God, you’re making the point of the health care protesters.

    W: If Barack Obama doesn’t want to do it, I want to do it.

    “Harry, you ought to know why I wrote this post. I wrote it as I was watching Michael Moore’s “Sicko” his documentary about the health care industry. Proving quite easily that health care insurers are in it for the money rather than for caring for the sick and afflicted, I couldn’t help but say “fuck the American health care industry.” And that is my stance until they change their ways. Fuck them.”

    Oh, so you wrote it after getting all fired up from watching a propagandist’s movie. Hmm, maybe my initial impression was correct.

    I would go deeper, but I have to hesitate. I see your post about Stephen Hawking below. I tend to not take seriously people who say things like “Conservatives are stupid” or “Liberals are stupid”. Such views aren’t reality. I’ve known some highly intelligent conservatives and some highly intelligent liberals. Blithely attributing the other side’s views to stupidity or evil betrays a lack of understanding of their reasoning. If you don’t understand their reasoning but reject it anyway, how do you know what you’re rejecting?

  11. Such views are reality. I highlight what I think are stupid comments by those who lead the Republican/conservative movement. When someone says that Stephen Hawking could not survive in Britain, I have to call stupid what is truly stupid!

    There are indeed intelligent conservatives out there, and I have called on them several times in my blog posts to retake their party/ideology from the hands of the stupid who currently run it. When your party/ideology/group is run by the likes of Sarah Palin, sorry, I can’t say any better word for that party/ideology/group than stupid. Stupid stupid stupid to let someone like Sarah Palin speak for your party.

    You want me to speak better of conservatives? Then kick Sarah Palin and her like out.

  12. “When your party/ideology/group is run by the likes of Sarah Palin, sorry, I can’t say any better word for that party/ideology/group than stupid.”

    I’m not sure Palin really runs anything right now other than her own family. It sounds like you haven’t noticed that on the whole, conservatives feel kind of leaderless right now.

    My world view does not preclude the possibility of prominent conservatives who make stupid comments. I actually expect it- making dumb comments is just part of human nature. However, according to your logic, all I would have to do to convince you that liberalism and the Democrat party is stupid is show you some stupid quotes by Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi. And boy, there are some stupid ones out there.

  13. You are totally free to create your own blog and explain to the world how stupid liberals are. Be my guest. And in many of the cases you might bring up, you’ll be totally right, and I will be in agreement. The difference is that the stupid directs the policy of the Republicans/conservatives right now, Harry. “Death panels?” Really?

  14. “You are totally free to create your own blog and explain to the world how stupid liberals are. Be my guest.”

    So if I did start a blog highlighting stupid comments made by leaders of the liberal movement, would you come to the conclusion that the liberal ideology is stupid? Of course not. It’s a waste of time to invalidate an ideology based on the stupider comments made by some of its more prominent adherents.

    By the way, the “death panels” remark isn’t a policy- it’s a criticism.

  15. Harry,

    The “death panels” is in reference to the policy to label something which was very bipartisan and which actually is being done right now anyways as something sinister and evil. Currently health insurance companies do offer people opportunities to talk about end of life scenarios. It used to be a benign aspect of health insurance until the idiot Palin showed up and made it into something sinister (ps. she used to be for “death panels” before she was against them). The attempt to label things as sinister, like the “death panels” bruhaha is a Republican/conservative policy meant to sow doubt into the efficacy of an otherwise normal bill. Because it is completely stupid, it will be called as such until those who employ this strategy/policy stop.

  16. By the way, why do you care so much about an insignificant blogger like me saying “fuck the American health insurance companies?”

  17. Palin’s infamous “death panels” characterization was an over-the-top rhetorical bomb. However, she didn’t actually mention the end-of-life clause in her post. She was talking about rationing. You can read it here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=113851103434

    The end-of-life counseling wasn’t exactly benign, though. As Charles Lane argued in the Washington Post, it’s not mandatory as some have claimed, but it’s also not purely voluntary. Doctors can initiate the discussion and they’ll have a financial incentive to do so. Though patients may opt out, it still puts them in a position where some will feel pressured to oblige. As he puts it, “Indeed, the measure would have an interested party — the government — recruit doctors to sell the elderly on living wills, hospice care and their associated providers, professions and organizations. You don’t have to be a right-wing wacko to question that approach.” Here’s the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/07/AR2009080703043.html

    Palin’s proclamation did encourage the public to get advance directives. However, that’s a far cry from a government interested in “bending the curve” giving financial incentives to doctors to push directives on patients.

    In case you’re wondering how anyone could possibly oppose this bill without being evil, stupid, or rabidly partisan, let me list the ways.

    1. The president tried to sell this as a way to control the deficit. The idea that adding medical coverage for millions of people would do anything but explode deficits in the short run or the long run makes no sense. Apparently, the CBO agrees because they have shot down the president’s assertions numerous times.
    2. He claims that only those earning more than $250,000 a year will have to pay for it. If only they had that much money.
    3. The president claims this will control rising health care costs. Taking an already inefficient system and adding more government bureaucracies on top will not make it any less costly.
    4. Medical care is a scarce resource so rationing is inevitable in any system. In a free-market system, it happens via the price signal. In a government-controlled system, it happens via government bureaucracies. People are wary of top-down rationing. To blithely ignore such legitimate concerns and say “No, there won’t be any rationing” doesn’t help much.
    5. Speaking of the price signal, part of the reason medical care is already so expensive is because so many people have become so disconnected from medical costs. As far as I can tell, this bill does nothing to address that problem. It only makes the problem worse.
    6. Our entitlements are already leading us toward financial Armageddon. We can’t even afford what we have now. If anything, we need to cut back on entitlements, not add to them.
    7. It does nothing to address tort reform, another significant driver of costs.

    I’ll leave it at seven for now, but I have even more reasons too oppose this reform in good faith. Or maybe I’m just stupid. :)

  18. “By the way, why do you care so much about an insignificant blogger like me saying “fuck the American health insurance companies?””

    “F*** the insurance companies”? Dude, that’s so 10 posts ago. Just conversing is all. Why do you care about an insignificant commenter like me challenging you on that?

  19. wow Harry, you are ACTUALLY defending the “death panels” crap. You saved yourself, though, by actually showing real reasons to be against this health care reform, otherwise the conversation would have ended right here. See, you’re not stupid like Sarah Palin is. You actually have valid reasons to be against this bill, and state them rationally. Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the rest of the stupid Republican/conservatives do not. Their purpose, as leaders of the Republicans/conservatives, is simply to whip up fear, fear of the “other” of the government, of anything, really. And they do so with “death panels” and “pulling the plug on grandma.”

    So now that you’ve got some real reasons to be against this, let’s talk about them.

    1. Yes, the president talks about this as a way to control the deficit. And he is right. The CBO’s numbers have been mixed on the topic (though I’m happy to see conservatives finally liking the CBO’s numbers—I seem to recall often during the Bush administration where conservatives railed against the CBO daring to challenge Republican bills). Look, Harry, this isn’t that difficult. There are many post-industrial developed wealthy nations out there, and they ALL have some form of government mandated health care. Every single one of them spends LESS on caring for their citizens than the United States, and every single one of them covers ALL their citizens (hell, not even citizens, if you were in France and got an accident and went to their hospital, they would care for you without charging you!) This coverage is done at less the cost per individual than America spends currently while we still don’t cover an additional 45 million Americans! It is quite possible for America to cut down on its expenses AND cover every single American while still providing top medical care. It is a shame that America lags behind Cuba in terms of infant mortality rates. Yes, when it comes to something as simple as making sure mothers give proper births to their children, we are among the worst in the developed world, and some non developed countries do better than us, like El Salvador. That’s a real shame.

    2. I hold him to his word that he will only increase the taxes on those making over $250,000. You forget Harry, that over the past seventy years or so, the wealthiest Americans used to pay much higher taxes. During the Eisenhower administration, the wealthiest Americans paid 90% tax. And you know what, America thrived! Imagine that. I’m all for taxing the rich at 50%. It is far more important for our nation to get out of its financial morass than for the wealthy of this nation to make off like bandits. This current generation is probably the most selfish American generation ever, and future generations of Americans are not going to be looking kindly at this generation and its selfishness for passing along all OUR debt to them. I’m talking about things like the War in Iraq. Currently NOTHING of that war is being paid for by this generation. That WHOLE BILL is going to our children to pay. Yes, over $1 trillion dollars. Where’s the conservative anger in that, Harry? Why aren’t you angry that George W. Fucking Bush didn’t raise taxes on this generation to pay for this generation’s war of choice? You’re so fucking upset that a president dare raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for health care, but where’s the anger that taxes weren’t raised to go kill hundreds of thousands of people in another country? Frankly, I have no problem at all in raising the tax of the rich Americans to pay for health care for the poor Americans who otherwise cannot afford it. No problem at all. As a rich American myself, I have no problem with it.

    3. It will control costs. If you set up the incentive system correctly costs will go down. It’s just the way it is.

    4. What? Are you saying medical services are already being rationed? Wasn’t ‘rationing’ one of the boogeymen used against this reform? Well, how about that. Amazing that conservatives agree health care services are already being rationed. So… what exactly is the problem, Harry? In the current model there already is a top-down rationing. Who do you think rations what services are paid for? America’s fucking health insurance industry! Yet the reason they ration is because they simply don’t want to pay for services. If they do, they can’t go to their shareholders and tell them of all the great profits they made. Bastards.

    5. How does this bill make this problem worse? Frankly, patients should not have to even bother themselves with the costs. That’s the whole point of government run health insurance. It is what works so well in other developed countries. Go as a Canadian what the cost of his latest visit to his doctor is. He’ll tell you he has no clue. The cost doesn’t matter. That’s the whole point. Don’t stress the patient with money concerns.

    6. If we cannot afford what we have now, I can point you to one reason and one reason alone for that problem. The wealthiest Americans are no longer taxed at the rate that covers all our entitlements as they used to be. And you know what, that has made them filthy rich. But it leaves everyone else behind, and it bankrupts the nation. Tax the rich. Keep this country in a financially sound position. It’s not that hard, really.

    7. This is probably your most valid point. I don’t know what this bill does to address tort reform. But it’s not really a significant driver of costs.

  20. “F*** the insurance companies”? Dude, that’s so 10 posts ago. Just conversing is all. Why do you care about an insignificant commenter like me challenging you on that?

    Well you started it.

  21. I wasn’t exactly defending the “death panels” remark when I called it “an over-the-top rhetorical bomb”. I wish she would stick to her concerns about rationing without making up inflammatory phrases like that. However, the Palins, Hannitys, Limbaughs, and Becks of the world do articulate the same arguments I’ve made. You just won’t hear that on Media Matters or Think Progress. You’ll only hear when they say something stupid or controversial.

    Back to my specific reasons.

    1. Is there a single CBO analysis that supports the president’s claims on this health care reform? All evidence and experience refutes his claims. The only reason left to believe them is faith.

    By the way, the 47 million isn’t a true representation of the number of uninsured. That was the number of people who went without health insurance at any time during the year 2006. It includes people who were temporarily unemployed as they switched jobs, illegal immigrants, people who can afford insurance but don’t bother to buy it for various reasons, and people who are eligible for existing programs like Medicare and SCHIP but not signed up.

    Also, a crude statistic like infant mortality rate really isn’t a good indication of quality of health care. Here’s a good explanation: http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/060924/2healy.htm

    2. He already broke his word by signing the SCHIP bill which taxes cigarettes. Most smokers make less than $250,000. But in addition to that, it’s impossible to have this huge spending spree and expect only 5% to pay for it. Even the New York Times isn’t buying it. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/us/politics/01taxes.html?_r=3

    Conservatives weren’t too happy with Bush and the Republican Congress’ free-spending ways and their deficits. Why do you think Bush’s approval ratings were so low? It’s not because conservatives suddenly became liberals.

    I’m not rich. I don’t directly stand to lose anything by increasing taxes on the rich. In fact, I find it kind of selfish to support policies that use the coercive power of government to take from the rich and shower the benefits upon myself. Besides, the whole notion that they’re making off like bandits assumes it’s all a zero-sum game. It’s not. For the most part, you can’t take a huge chunk of the pie without enlarging it. Take my dad for instance. He will likely become very rich in the next few years. He is working on an invention and has a contract with a company who’s funding it. He almost has the prototype completed. This invention is expected to save his industry billions of dollars a year. Those savings will be passed on to everyday consumers like you and me. For increasing wealth by billions, he will make millions. After all his hard work and sacrifice, I don’t feel inclined to confiscate half his income and call him greedy and selfish. The same goes for the rest of the rich, most of whom are not too different from my dad.

    If rich people like you want to help, that’s great. That’s what private charities are for.

    3. What incentives do bureaucracies have to become less bloated and more efficient? Experience shows there is none. On the other hand, companies with a profit motive do have incentives to become more efficient.

    They might be able to control prices, but that’s not the same as controlling costs. There is a difference. Prices are what you see on the bill but costs are what goes into making the product. Controlling costs involves increasing efficiencies, something the government is not exactly famous for. Controlling prices means simply refusing to pay the costs. That usually results in shortages and/or decreased quality.

    4. It’s not exactly a profound point to say that health care is rationed. Everything but sunshine and air is rationed. And yes, much of it is done by health insurance companies. And yes, that is part of the problem. Because of the way the system is currently set up, we’ve come to expect our insurance to pay for even routine medical care. The problem is that consumers have become disconnected from routine health-care costs. We pay a co-pay and don’t bother looking into the actual cost, so people don’t shop around for the best price. That means there’s little pressure on health care providers to lower costs. I would favor a system where employers don’t offer their employees health insurance, but rather pay them that amount in their regular salary. Then, employees have to buy their own health insurance. That would give them more incentive to shop around and look at all their choices. Many people would probably decide it’s cheaper to get insurance to cover catastrophic situations and pay for routine care out of pocket. Additionally, a lot of the states should drop their mandates so people aren’t forced to buy coverage for things they feel they don’t need (like mental health or alcoholism). At least the federal government could drop its restriction on buying across state lines. More choices and more shopping around means more competition and competition is the best way to improve prices and quality. Also, there wouldn’t be a problem with having to switch insurance companies when switching jobs which would eliminate some of the problems with pre-existing conditions.

    5. See #4. Or think about food. People shouldn’t have to even bother themselves with the cost of food, right? I mean, people will die if they don’t eat. So what do you think would happen if the government gave everyone free food? Food costs would go up. Shortages would occur. Quality would decrease. Food choices would be limited and we wouldn’t even know it. There’s a reason that wait times are problematic in places like Canada. There’s a reason many Canadians forgo free health care and come down here to pay for it. I would rather preserve what’s good about our current system

    6. No, it’s more because entitlements didn’t used to be this big (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/downchart_gs.php?year=1950_2008&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=fy10&chart=00-fed_10-fed_40-fed&bar=1&stack=1&size=m&title=Entitlement%20Spending%20Chart&state=US&color=c&local=s). Revenue, on the other hand, has consistently hovered around 18% of GDP, regardless of top marginal tax rates (http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/downchart_gr.php?year=1950_2008&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=fy10&chart=F0-fed&bar=1&stack=1&size=m&title=Total%20Revenue&state=US&color=c&local=s). Even though Bush cut the marginal tax rates on the rich (and everyone for that matter), the rich are paying more of the taxes than in recent history (http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/250.html).

    Any tax revenues we can suck out of the rich is chump change compared to the unfunded mandates we are committed to. Check out the 2008 Citizen’s Guide put out by the GAO. Take a look at charts 2 and 5 (http://www.fms.treas.gov/fr/08frusg/08guide.pdf). That’s what we’re looking at without this health care reform. Medicare for everyone- not exactly what we need to add to it.

    7. The direct costs are around 2%, but the indirect costs, coming in the form of doctors ordering unnecessary test and procedures to cover themselves from potential lawsuits, puts that number as high as 10%, based on an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers (although to be fair, I can’t find the original data on that).

    But even if I’m totally crazy and wrong on everything, why not have the states do this? If a state runs it inefficiently and it goes broke, at least the damage is minimized to one state. If a state does it right, then other states can model it. However, if the federal government screws it all up (and given their track record, it’s pretty likely they will), we’re all stuck with the consequences.

  22. wow Harry, all over a simple statement by an otherwise unimportant insignificant obscure blogger.

    1. CBO’s numbers are based on a draft of one of the bills being processed. http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_treatment/archive/2009/07/17/orszag-on-cbo-testimony.aspx and http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2009/07/cbos-analysis-of-house-health-care-bill.php?page=1

    i.e. an incomplete bill. Secondly, I was sure that I saw something from CBO that was favorable, but I don’t have the motivation this morning to dig through the internet to find it. You can have that point if you really want it.

    Thirdly, I’m glad you agree that 47 million people were uninsured (doesn’t matter how or the circumstance—within the confines of this country, 47 million people went without insurance in 2006).

    Fourthly, of course infant mortality rate speaks much about the quality of care within said country. If one country that otherwise lags behind other economic indicators provides such an environment that children are alive more frequently than in another country that is economically ahead of the first country, then the first country has better health care. It’s one indicator. There are others. Such as life expectancy. It is really sad that America lags behind El Salvador in making sure our children are born.

    2. Huh? I don’t remember Obama saying he won’t raise cigarette taxes. I have absolutely no problem raising taxes on cigarettes to astronomical numbers. I HATE cigarette smoke. The more restrictions on cigarettes the better. You chose a poor example with me. Try something other than cigarettes. :)

    Obama plans to raise the tax on those making more than $250,000. My personal view, the richest rich, those making over $2 million ought to have their taxes at 50%. Close tax loopholes allowing rich individuals and businesses to place their income in tax havens. Watch how much revenue will come in with just those two. Remember again, from the 40s on through the 70s the wealthiest Americans were taxed at enormously high rates, yet the country thrived. Some of our best, most sustainable growth happened during this period; i.e. growth during that period did not count on financial bubbles to endure. Tax the wealthy, Harry. Our country needs it, and it actually benefits far more people than if you reduce the taxes of the wealthy. When the wealthy are taxed close to the rates of the poor, their income increases dramatically, pushing more money their way while the rest of the world is left behind. Don’t believe me? Look at these graphs. Note that when the rich are taxed at high levels, economic growth occurs for a greater percentage of the population. Note that when the rich are taxed at low rates, growth occurs for the wealthy at astounding numbers. It sure is nice to be rich in America. Sad that only 1% of the population get to call themselves rich. That’s NOT the American way.

    3. What experience? Share your evidence. You’re quite capable of sharing evidence for your other points. Where is your evidence here?

    4.

    The problem is that consumers have become disconnected from routine health-care costs.

    Disconnect them even further, Harry. Health care costs should never be a part of the equation between a doctor and his patient. We need a system where a patient gets the care he needs without concern to cost. It works quite well in Europe. It’s not perfect, but it is far superior to our system.

    What is un-American is families going bankrupt over health care costs. That’s not the American way.

    5.

    People shouldn’t have to even bother themselves with the cost of food, right? I mean, people will die if they don’t eat. So what do you think would happen if the government gave everyone free food? Food costs would go up. Shortages would occur. Quality would decrease.

    You’d think this is what happens, and in terms of food, that is what happened when Mao attempted this. But no rational person thinks that the food industry is anything like the health care industry. There is a great difference between the two. It would be nice if the health care industry worked like the food industry, but alas it doesn’t. And, more importantly, there is plenty of evidence that government run health care works quite well (see Britain, France, etc).

    6. That’s an interesting first graph you share. It seems benefit costs rose and then steadied in the 1980s, about the same time that the rich had their taxes reduced and deficit spending was introduced. Huh… imagine that. Reduce taxes on the wealthy and suddenly you can’t afford to pay for the services previously set up. Republican tax policies are going to bankrupt this country because Republicans don’t have the balls to cut expenses at the same time they cut revenue. They instead prefer to force future generations to make the tough decisions they refuse to make. As long as the current generation of rich Americans get their money back from the state, they don’t fucking care.

    This generation of Americans will not be looked kindly upon by future Americans. We are the most selfish generation of Americans ever. We want our money, our cake, our services, but we don’t want to pay for it all. We’ll let our children pay for us living the good life. We’ll let our children pay for our wars of choices. You do realize, Harry, that the war in Iraq is going on a credit card for our children to pay. What kind of sick people are we that we send such a bill to them? What kind of demented people are we, Harry, that we refuse to raise our taxes to pay for a war we choose to fight? We are fucking insane.

  23. 1. Here’s the CBO director’s blog. http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?cat=5

    I filtered it out for health care issues. I searched it and couldn’t find anything to support the president’s claims. At best, one cost-cutting idea might save $2 billion over 10 years. That’s about it, but if there is something else, it’s entirely possible that I missed it.

    It’s no small point and the fact that it’s a draft bill is irrelevant. The president and prominent members of congress are trying to sell an incomplete bill, so it only makes sense to scrutinize that incomplete bill.

    Did you look at the article I posted about infant mortality rate? The standards for measuring such a thing are inconsistent- we’re much more stringent about it. Also, life expectancy involves many factors that the medical industry cannot control, like lifestyle and murder rates. Mormons in America have a significantly longer life expectancy than average and that’s not because they have better medical care than everyone else. A good indication of the quality of our medical care is cancer survival rates and we do very well at that compared to Europe (http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2007/09/surviving-cancer-us-vs-europe.html).

    I’m not sure why the existence of tens of millions of people who could get insurance but choose not to should be a compelling reason to entirely change our system. It’s not exactly constitutional for the federal government to force people to get health insurance if they don’t want it (unlike car insurance, which is required by the statements and only a requirement for those who want to drive). I would rather focus on those who can’t get it and that number is far south of 47 million.

    2. The president said “If you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increase by one single dime. Not your income taxes. Not your payroll taxes. Not your capital gains taxes. No taxes. Because the last thing we should do is raise taxes in this economy on the middle class. Period.” I’m no fan of cigarette smoke either, but the president didn’t make that promise to just non-smokers. Non-smokers saw their taxes raised several dimes every time they but a pack.

    3. It is difficult to quantitatively measure something like bureaucratic efficiency and present evidence in a concise form. James Q. Wilson, who wrote a book on the subject, argues that bureaucracies inefficiencies result because they’re guided less by rewards (like profits) and more by constraints and avoiding scandals. This leads to red tape which tends be stifling and even contradictory. Here’s an overview: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/book-review-bureaucracy-what-government-agencies-do-and-why-they-do-it-by-james-q-wilson/

    If you want a modern example, look at the post office. They’ve been losing billions of dollars a year and now the GAO has declared it at risk of financial insolvency. Here’s the story: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/20892/

    “We are subject to Congressional oversight, regulation by other government agencies, and also oversight by various other organizations and the public,” USPS said in their annual report. “If we cannot successfully address their various, and sometimes competing, concerns, we may be subject to greater regulation, which could increase our costs or otherwise place additional burdens on our operations,” USPS warned regulators in the annual report.

    Here are some of the advantages they have that their profit-churning competitors, like FedEx and UPS, don’t have:

    “The USPS exists under Title 39, Section 101.1 of the United States Code. It has monopoly power concerning first-class mail. Although it operates as a private enterprise, it does not pay federal or local taxes, may borrow from the Treasury at discounted rates, and can use governmental rights of eminent domain to attain private property. The USPS is not a profit-oriented entity, but is required to break even.”

    4. When people are connected to the costs, they have to ration themselves. When they’re disconnected, the government comes into that decision. I’d rather make that decision myself.

    What I’m talking about would slow down the increase in medical costs and health insurance. In our current setup, there’s not enough competition among insurance companies, doctors, and hospitals. We need more of that competitive pressure to reduce costs without reducing quality. Hence, fewer people go bankrupt and the nation as a whole doesn’t go bankrupt.

    5. Of course the food industry and health care industry are very different. However, what they have in common are the laws of supply and demand. The laws of supply and demand always apply when the sum of what everyone wants exceeds what’s actually there. Something has to give. When the government runs the show, they control their costs with price and wage controls. This leads to reduced quality, reduced choices, shortages, and wait times. That always happens when price controls are enacted, whether it be health care, rent, or food. (See Thomas Sowell’s Applied Economics for more a more detailed analysis).

    It also leads to reduced innovations. For each drug that comes to the market (most of which comes from private companies), it costs around $1 billion just to develop it. That’s because companies must go through thousands of compounds, only a handful of which will go to clinical trials, and only one of which will pass. Beyond that, the incremental cost of manufacturing the pills is very cheap. Other countries get drugs cheaper by negotiating much lower drug prices than what we pay. The drug companies go along because they have no reason not to- they’re still getting more than the incremental costs of the drugs. However, that leaves us Americans alone to pay for the developmental costs. Price controls are the reason America is so far ahead of Europe in terms of drug innovation (http://www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v6/n4/full/nrd2293.html). If we become like them, we’ll never know what life-saving drugs could have been developed but weren’t. That’s an invisible cost.

    6. As you’ve pointed out, government spending as a whole doesn’t necessarily reflect government revenues. That’s particularly true when isolating one part of the budget. As my second chart pointed out, federal revenues were about the same as other decades in terms of GDP. In real dollars, federal revenues increased just like other decades.

    If people are upset about the deficits incurred during the Bush years (and conservatives are, as I pointed out), then they should be livid about what the current congress and Obama is doing now (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2009/03/21/GR2009032100104.html). See how much worse the red is than the gray? To say “Well, Bush did it too” isn’t a very good defense of Obama. If you think about it, it’s really more of an attack on Obama.

    There’s nothing easier than coming up with 2 variables and finding a correlation (particularly a weak one). Correlation does not imply causality. The economy and society are so complex with so many variables that exact conditions can never be repeated as they can in the hard sciences. As such, it calls for intellectual humility- the idea that any one of us can be 180 degrees backward on everything we believe, no matter how smart, knowledgeable, and intellectually honest we are. Neither of us is excluded from that possibility. So with that in mind, I ask again, why not pull the federal government out and let the states do it? Federalism is a good way to keep people with opposing views happy in the same country. You can live in a state with a progressive single-payer approach and I can live in a state with a free-market approach. That avoids the need for either of us to impose our vision on the country as a whole. If the states that do single-payer don’t work and go financially bust, at least the damage is minimized. If single-payer works out well and the states that go free-market have people dying in the streets, people can move to the single-payer states. The states can learn from each other what works and what doesn’t. However, if the federal government screws it up, we’re all screwed.

    I’ve had my say and we’re about to go in circles here, so I’ll pull myself out of this and let you have the last word. It’s been fun.

  24. It has been fun. Tell your Republican/conservative leaders to be more thoughtful like this when debating this topic. It doesn’t convince me that Obama’s and the Democrats’ plan will not work, but it ensures that the plan gets all its wrinkles ironed out. To this point, the only real argument against this plan is that it will be too popular among Americans, just like Medicare. Funny how elderly conservatives don’t want anyone touching their Medicare coverage… they don’t seem to realize that if Ronald Reagan had his way, they would be shit out of luck.

  25. Screw govt run anything! screw Oh Bummer and all the Democraps!
    Uncle Sam{ Not my Uncle}

  26. I hate insurance companies and think they are evil. Insurance companies are not there to help the person but to put money in the pockets of the corrupt insurance companies. I am sick and tired of all the lobbiest crap going on to keep America a third world country when it comes to health care. Why in a country where everyone can have a computer in their home can we not grant the ability of every american to go to the doctor when they are sick. Insurance companies are only for the healthy. Get sick and just watch those nasty burgers cancel your coverage and refuse to offer you any further coverage. It is not an option to fine the american people just because they do not have the option to have group insurance. I say that Canada and the UK have it correct in granting all their citizens health care. Why can America not be as great a nation as them.

    I say do away with all the insurance companies and grant the american people assible health care. The goal of insurance companies is to make a profit not to keep america healthy.

  27. Making love to an insurance company won’t help to put them out of biz. Your calm action will. First of all all insurers live off our money. What can we do is simply to cut the feeding tube off. No, not by going to another greedy insurer-shark, but by selling your car and moving into an area that has public transportation. There you will save on all kinds of costs: car maintenance, gasoline, car repair, car insurance, parking fees, traffic tickets and the car’s cost itself. I know, you’re talking about HEALTH insurance here, I know, but start with you car – give the ass holes who sent all our jobs overseas a kick in the butt by spending less, shutting the f’ing economy down, walking more, thus becoming more healthy, thus giving big insurance and other corporations a hard time. Then, quit your health insurance, yes, just quit it and start eating healthy, go on a diet and hit ER if you really need it, even if you can’t pay for it. Don’t get any health insurance anymore until they come up with something really reasonable. Don’t give up too soon! Keep on going. If everyone does this in USA, then the system will change very soon, you will see. They will have no choice, but to give in and to start respecting individual people again. We want TRUE FREE MARKET ECONOMY and not Corporation-Protecting Corpo-Socialism. We had enough of insurance RIP-OFF! It’s time to end it now.

  28. Du… i just got hit by a bill from a local medical center. It’s $530. Guess for what. It’s for cholesterol test. I also paid $90 to the family physician’s office. A total of $620 for a prescription for blood pressure medication and a simple blood test for cholesterol. Same thing 5 years ago costed me $70 (in a better area). I live in one of the poorest county in the United States. Is this entire county corrupt, or this medical center is a huge rip-off but I’m not paying for it. Once they send me a reasonable bill (I believe $90 covered it all, perhaps an extra $60 would be ok to pay to them.


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