Healthcare Summit & Reconciliation – The Kiss of Death

The healthcare summit on Thursday will be the foretelling of a story that will play out this November and in November 2012.  Obama’s “invitation”  to the Republican leadership was great political strategy.  If no consensus is reached (and that is highly unlikely due to the stark differences in political philosophy) and the partisan bickering continues (which will surely escalate), the Democrats will find a way to justify (in their minds only) that the only solution to the healthcare “crisis” in America is to pass, via reconciliation, the House plan in the Senate.  They will, therefore, be  delivering the “public option” to the progressives and those that feel “entitled” – fulfilling their campaign pledge.  And, in the process, further infuriate the conservative & independent taxpayers that have, uniformly, voiced total opposition to the “public option” agenda.  The rift, that currently deeply divides this great country, will become wider.

If the Obama administration utilizes legislative reconciliation to ram an overhaul of the healthcare system down the collective throats of the taxpaying public, they will be committing political suicide.  A few Senators, Rachel Maddow, and other progressives (my, my, the word “progressive” sounds so much better than “socialist“, doesn’t it!!!) are keeping the dream (wet, as it may be) alive for Obama.  I simply do not understand what planet they inhabit……it can’t be Earth because most Earthlings can read; and Earthlings that can read know that  the polls clearly indicate that most taxpayers (and I distinguish taxpayers from voters) are against the government overhauling and running healthcare!

I read Ezra Klein’s Washington Post Blog recently and was amazed  when Ezra claimed the “public option” was “popular”!!  Come on, Ezra!  It is only popular with anyone that is left of center and/or seeking another government handout?  Yes……the American healthcare system needs to be reformed….changes must be made to increase competition and bring down the cost of healthcare.  But, a government take-over…..bull!!!

Back to reconciliation…..as a legislative tool, it might be necessary to eliminate fiscal grid-lock on budgetary matters.  But, the system needs a procedure to contain the overzealous ambitions of any party that controls  both the White House and the Congress.  Neither Democrats nor Republicans should be able to stampede unpopular legislation just because they hold  “temporary” control.  The Democrats lost Congress during Clinton’s term; and the Republicans lost it on Bush’s watch!   They lost because they were greedy, little pigs with ill-perceived mandates.  And, it will happen during Obama’s tenure, too!   So much power….so easily corrupted!  Taxpayers are not stupid, Bill Maher!!

So, Obama, if you want to guarantee a Republican Congress by 2012, push the trillion dollar take-over through!!  He has become one of the most divisive presidents in our history!

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7 responses to “Healthcare Summit & Reconciliation – The Kiss of Death

  1. Passing a bill by a majority vote has never been considered “ramming” legislation through Congress. Indeed, until this Congress the tradition (notably NOT a Senate rule) of a 60 vote requirement for closure (the filibuster) was used only sparingly. And before you respond that during the Bush administration the Democrats likewise used the filibuster to their advantage, please check the record. I believe you will find that the times it was invoked was with regard to confirmation of far-right judges (e.g., Jeff Sessions and others of that ilk), not legislation.

    Also note that the proposal announced by the White House this morning did not include a public option. I, for one, wish that it had. If we do not do something to stop the continued extraordinary increase in health care costs and insurance premiums, watch what happens to private businesses in this country. My last position (where I had some responsibility for this) paid nearly $15mm per year in health care costs for just 1500 employees, and our profits were less than $120m (so more than 10%). Additionally, for 2010 premiums when UP by 10%, as they had for every year prior, with LESS coverage.

    If I was king I would invoke a very simple solution and that would be single payer, private not for profit insurance with a mandate for all to carry insurance. This would free up companies to stop the costs each and everyone one of them incurs just to administer the ridiculously inefficient system in place today, and would better control on a more global basis the admin expenses attendant to insurance. Second, this would allow companies to avoid this burden (note the cars built in Canada in lieu of the U.S? Ever considered why – it’s cheaper simply because of avoided health care costs), and require a deduction from employee pay to cover the mandatory health insurance costs (but with a an associated bump in base pay). Ultimately, it would be like the medicare tax we pay now, but for those under 65 it would be for a greater amount. And for the unemployed they would have to pay their required premium out of pocket as is the case today, with stipends for those at or under the poverty line, but the cost would be must less than today due in great measure to the savings associated with a most efficient administration associated with single payer (5% admin costs like the VA or Medicare as opposed to 22% with private insurance).

    As to controlling the increases, look to the Mayo Clinic model for a good example. Look to the savings associated with universal coverage and coverage for preventative care. And finally, we all get realistic and look to the realities of end of life care and its costs. Yes, some tort reform may also be in order, but as Texas has proven (with its $250k cap on pain and suffering/punatives – gee, doctor, you made my husband a vegetable when you operated on him drunk…) costs don’t go down with a cap and the myth of defensive testing has been shown to be just that. In other words, the health care costs in TX have not gone down one dime. The malpractice insurance premiums doctors pay have, but that has only gone to their pockets, not to the consumer.

    This Thursday will indeed be fascinating, but only for how the Republicans will deal with finally having to put up real solutions, not just rhetoric of “start over, too big, too much government.” Or as I expect they will do, claim that the majority, ELECTED by the American people, has not entitlement to govern…

    In any case, game on.ridiculous

  2. ‘Tis an interesting & rational argument you make, Swordfish! I certainly agree that something has to be done about the rising costs of healthcare. Where we differ is the manner in which the task is to be undertaken. I’ll agree that “tort” reform will do little to stem the costs. But, there is much more that can be done before we allow the government “manage” 16-18% of the economy! They already have their sticky little fingers in the auto, banking, & insurance businesses. (I wonder if GM would be getting the same federal scutiny as Toyota if the feds “owned” TM!) Good rebuttal, though!

  3. I, standing in the minority apparently, do not fear moving health care into a more rational means of administration, even if that means under a governmental program. As it is, a majority of people now receive their health care coverage from such a program (medicare, medicaid, VA) and with few complaints. Indeed, ask any Canadian if they would trade their insurance for ours (single payer, not for profit) and they would laugh at you. I still remember vividly sitting on a patio in Palm Springs with a number of retired Canooks who were leaving the next day to drive north, having exhausted their maximum 180 days/year out of the country (i.e.,to keep their Canadian health care they had to return). All were multi-millionaires and could well afford private insurance. I asked them point blank why they cared and their universal answer was that the Canadian system was so convenient and efficient they didn’t want to give it up. I then asked about the rumored lengthy waits for certain procedures (generally elective) and they said in part that was true, but never for anything time-critical. And they added, doesn’t the same exist to a great extent anywhere, including the U.S. given the great demand an limited supply?

    Look again to the VA and the efficiency at which it operates. Again, I do not fear government involvement in those aspects of my life for which there is no good alternative (defense, police, fire, roads, disease control, etc.). All in all, it does a much better job than we give it credit for. And single payer is not “government.”

    Just my opinion, of course. I don’t necessarily agree with it…

  4. It will be interesting what happens on Thursday! By the way, I personally know 3 Canadians who loathe the Canadian healthcare system. I guess it’s who you talk to! Frankly, I would hate to see America become a western European country! But that’s just me!

  5. And I know three Americans who loathe our system (tried to get an appointment with a demotologist lately?). Bottom line is we can and indeed have to do better or health care will not be just 17% of our economy, it will be nearly all of it (ask any local government official and they will tell you they are terrified of the costs that are coming if we don’t get health care under control).

    As to becoming a “western European country” I am not sure how to respond to such a generality (my big complaint about the populist nonsense spewed by the Becks, Limbos and Hannitys). That said, have you seen the women in Sweden? Norway? Yes, Tiger may have “bought American” but look at his wife! Or even her sister! If that is what it means to become a western European country, bring it on!

  6. You guys need to get a room! But, if you have trouble getting an appointment now, how bad will it be when 30+ million are added?

  7. Likely cheaper. While perhaps that does not register intuitively, bear in mind that we already pay for those not covered in the most inefficient means possible – free emergency and critical care services. And it is why local governmental officials will tell you that health care is their number one budget fear looking forward.

    Consider alternatively the much less expensive alternative were they also covered by insurance, beginning with preventative care services alone.
    This is one way in which the coverage issue bends positively the cost curve.

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