Obama Health Care Reform Boondoggle

color-obama-heathc-shot-web

I keep thinking on all the Obama proposals…what is the rush?  First it was the “Stimulus” bill, then it was “Cap and Trade” and now it’s “Health Care.”  The same mantra that is rolled out is that we have to do it or else!  Or else what?  Reduced care to the masses?    I think not.  Higher costs to the actual taxpayers?  I think so. 

From the televised speech last night:

“If you don’t set deadlines in this town, things don’t happen. The default position is inertia,” the president said, singling out his critics for playing political “games” with health care reform. 

Reform is critical for rebuilding the economy and controlling the deficit, Obama argued. But with momentum slowing considerably in the effort to reach a deal on time, the president conceded that he wants to “do this right” and said he wouldn’t sign a bill that doesn’t achieve key objectives like reducing costs. 

At the news conference, called to rally support for health care reform, Obama acknowledged that Americans are “understandably queasy” about debt and deficits — and the impact health care reform would have on both. 

Obama used the news conference to try to put skeptics at ease, both inside and outside the Beltway. He said health care reform would not only improve the quality of care they receive at reduced cost but in the long run actually rein in spiraling deficits and debt. 

“If we do not control these (health care) costs, we will not be able to control our deficit,” he said. 

He rejected the notion that his administration only wants to “spend and spend.” In an odd boast, the president said his administration has already reduced the 10-year deficit projection from $9.3 trillion to $7.1 trillion. 

Reduce deficits huh?  The GOP House Ways and Means Committee has come up with their own figures and it projects the costs out past the Obama presidency (presumed to be 8 years) and past the natural lives of most of Congress:

gop_heathcarecosts_7-09

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Democrats’ health care proposal includes over $1 trillion in new spending between now and 2019.
     
  • The plan includes more than $820 billion in job-killing tax increases on small businesses and families making as little as $18,700 per year over the next decade.
     
  • But even these massive new taxes aren’t enough to pay for the Democrats’ plan.
     
  • CBO found the Democrats’ plan will increase the federal deficit by $239 billion over the next 10 years.  What the Democrats don’t tell you is that the bill is not fully implemented until 2015, hiding the true costs and deficit impact of this government takeover of health care.
     
  • CBO also confirmed that the Democrats’ rate of spending will lead to “a substantial hole that would need to be filled by the other provisions if the overall legislation were to be deficit neutral at the end of the 10-year window and into the following decade.”As the graph below shows,if the Democrats’ health care spending continues at those rates, it could cause a massive spike in the federal deficit – reaching as high as $1.6 trillion over the next 20 years.

 

Here’s a chart that the GOP came up with to outline the democratic plan for the “reform” of the health care system:

GOPDemHealthChart

OK, to be totally fair, here is the democratic chart (the original one).

Do we need reform?  I would say yes, but a government option is not the right answer.  Just look to Medicare and Medicaid for the answer of whether Uncle Sam can administer an adequate health care option.   Taking more time to actually draft a good option – outside of total government control – should be the goal of our lawmakers.  I won’t hold my breath on that one.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Rob’s Rant

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15 Responses

  1. Your post suggests to me that you are buying into the Republican Doubt Machine without actually understanding the facts.

    For example, the plan, as it stands today, is to offer a government plan health care as an option. Government will not run health care, instead it will provide a plan that you can buy into. That plan may be cheaper than current plans.

    Another fact is that you – a conservative with what I presume is a health plan already well in place – is currently under serious jeopardy. You think you have a great plan, but I can name three scenarios where your situation could dramatically change. It’s not just you either, it’s all Americans; and it’s not just in the future, it’s happening to many Americans today.

    Here are the three ways you could be uninsured in 60 days and unable to purchase health insurance at any price:

    – you develop a serious condition and lose your job. You will not be able to buy insurance at any price.

    – you develop high risk factors (such as high cholesterol) and you are over 50 yrs old. You will not be able to buy insurance at any price

    – you work for a small company that does offer an insurance plan, but because of it’s small size, insurance companies will refuse to add you to the plan.

    More over, today’s system hurts the working poor more than any other segment of society. The working poor have traditionally been the major source of votes for Republicans. These are people who make under $50,000 /yr.

    The vast majority of the 46 Mil uninsured are the working poor. Health insurance is just too costly for them.

    Lastly, Republicans have lost a historic opportunity to really win big by engaging Americans in plan that would have cost far less and challenged Omaba in town meetings over health insurance – not be saying NO, but rather by offering true reform. They failed to do anything useful and meaningful.

    You may find the following link useful in better understanding Medicare. Again, the Republican propaganda machine will raise unwarranted fears, but the truth is more illustrative

    http://www.thehealthcareblog.com/the_health_care_blog/2006/06/policy_why_medi.html

    I sincerely hope that you will take time to look at the facts before you cut-and-paste stories whose details you may not fully appreciate.

    • Welcome Mike. Glad you’re finally using an actual name instead of “Independent.”

      Your post suggests to me that you are buying into the Republican Doubt Machine without actually understanding the facts.

      I get the “facts.” I actually don’t want to pay for everyone’s healthcare. Plain and simple.

      For example, the plan, as it stands today, is to offer a government plan health care as an option. Government will not run health care, instead it will provide a plan that you can buy into. That plan may be cheaper than current plans.

      Right, and I have a bridge to sell you. If you are naïve enough to believe that employers will continue to offer healthcare as a benefit if they don’t have to, they won’t. Also, the government can never run anything efficient and I’d love to see an example of where they can. Bureaucracy, waste and fraud are hallmarks of large government programs – why would you think this time it would be different?

      Medicare is a huge unfunded mandate for our senior population (much like Social Security). While I appreciate the link, I’m can produce evidence on the other side highlighting the waste of the government run Medicare system, but I prefer to highlight the Libertarian view of John Stossel.

      Medicare’s “Efficiency”
      Strong piece yesterday by Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics on the media-fueled myth of Medicare’s “efficiency.”

      It’s important because as the Obama administration ramps up its push for a “public option” – it’s worth taking a sober look at Medicare, the existing federal entitlement an ew “public option” would most closely resemble. Medicare frequently gets a free pass not only from the pubic but from the media. Why? In part because it hasn’t exploded yet, and for now, people seem to be getting free stuff. Most of the media are too intellectually lazy to report on entitlements. I haven’t done it as often as I should because—face it—its not exciting TV.

      But last month on “20/20” producer Miguel Sancho and I reported on Medicare’s $34 trillion in unfunded liabilities, on how Medicare is a prime example of government promising MUCH more — that it is prepared to deliver. But the Obama administration has succeeded in promoting the fiction that Medicare is a shining example of government working well. Statists suggests that because Medicare only spends two or three percent of its budget on overhead, that means it’s a smoothly running machine. Bevan cites recent columns by Jonathan Alter and Paul Krugman, and “West Wing” fans will remember Jimmy Smits’ Matt Santos making the same argument in the famous “live debate” episode.

      Bevan argues persuasively that Medicare’s low overhead is the product of government accounting sleight-of-hand. But there’s a bigger point – the connection between “low” administrative costs and staggeringly HIGH levels of fraud and waste. As Michael Cannon at the Cato Institute and Regina Herzlinger at Harvard Business School have pointed out, much of the 10 to 20 percent of private insurance administrative costs goes to preventing fraud. Private insurers, you see, care about whether or not they lose money. Medicare, with its unlimited claim on the public purse, does not. It’s only taxpayer money, after all.

      The results are predictable, but breathtaking nonetheless: an estimated $68 billion (with a B) in outright Medicare fraud every year (About $3 billion in Miami-Dade county ALONE.) On top of that, according to well-respected Dartmouth researchers, roughly a third of Medicare’s total $400 billion annual spending goes to procedures which were medically unnecessary.

      Health care reform sounds so good. It’s an idea that makes us feel better about ourselves. The president’s plan deserves a hearing, But the country is drowning in unfunded future liabilities. Regardless of one’s philosophical leanings about the merits of another large federal entitlement program, we cannot afford one as wasteful as Medicare. http://blogs.abcnews.com/johnstossel/2009/06/medicares-efficiency-.html

      Another fact is that you – a conservative with what I presume is a health plan already well in place – is currently under serious jeopardy. You think you have a great plan, but I can name three scenarios where your situation could dramatically change. It’s not just you either, it’s all Americans; and it’s not just in the future, it’s happening to many Americans today.

      I’m not sure anyone has a “great” plan and I would bet my 401K (albeit smaller than it used to be) that most workers have no idea what their employer kicks in for their healthcare. The problem is that we have been lulled into believing that healthcare insurance is a right and not a privilege. It’s a privilege. If we get a handle on what the real healthcare costs are instead of taking the word of our doctors that something is “needed” because insurance pays for it, costs will go down.

      More over, today’s system hurts the working poor more than any other segment of society. The working poor have traditionally been the major source of votes for Republicans. These are people who make under $50,000 /yr.

      Wow, the working poor level is $50,000? In the 2007 census figures the median income was around $50,000. The term “working poor” is a tad misleading. http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p60-235.pdf

      The vast majority of the 46 Mil uninsured are the working poor. Health insurance is just too costly for them.

      How many of these 46 million are covered by Medicaid already? How many don’t want health insurance (the young). How many only work part time (high school, college students, second income, etc.)? By my estimates if you take out the 18-30 crowd and the 65+ crowd (Medicare eligible), you have around 26.3 Million left. I have no idea of how many in this crowd, or the under 18 figure (11% or around 5.6 million), are part-time workers. It may be too costly for the remaining people to get healthcare (whatever that number may really be), so let’s deal with that small number.
      http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p60-235.pdf

      Lastly, Republicans have lost a historic opportunity to really win big by engaging Americans in plan that would have cost far less and challenged Omaba in town meetings over health insurance – not be saying NO, but rather by offering true reform. They failed to do anything useful and meaningful.

      I would agree that Republicans have lost a lot of opportunities to work on reform in many areas. Obama wants to bang something through as fast as possible with minimal debate (for instance, the Cap and Trade legislation). As I stated in the original post, what’s the rush? I think he knows if the American people find out what he and his cronies are proposing they would be none too happy. Seems that his approval ratings are lowering by the day, but we hear very little on that one… hmmmm. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/07/13/opinion/polls/main5156648.shtml

      I have my own four point plan to reduce the cost of healthcare, but I’ll save that for another post – this reply is longer than the original post. It’s probably way to simplistic for you, but hey, this is my site!

  2. Your reply contains a number of assumptions that are not supported by the facts or reality.

    1) You stated that “If you … believe that employers will continue to offer healthcare (sic) as a benefit if they don’t have to, they won’t.”

    FACT: the proposals in front of congress is not for a “free” government program where employers can simply tell everyone to get their health care from the government.

    The cost to the Government to subsidize health care for everyone would be, roughly, $3 Trillion dollars. No such plan is on the table.

    What is on the table is reform: (a) insurance companies cannot drop people due to pre-existing conditions, (b) a large scale purchase of insurance by the Government to keep costs low, (c) a requirement that everyone must buy their own insurance, and (d) some formula that defines who simply can’t afford it and provide them with a sliding scale subsidy.

    Which part of the items (a)-(d) do you have a problem with?

    2) You stated that “Also, the government can never run anything efficient and I’d love to see an example of where they can.”

    FACT: The Government doesn’t run health care; Medicare is not a Government run health care system. What it is is a reimbursement system. Doctors bill Medicare and payments are made.

    Medicare is not a government purchase of health care. It is unfunded and many of the reforms that it needs are fraud control and a resetting of what it promises.

    3) You quote 20/20 as stating that “reported on Medicare’s $34 trillion in unfunded liabilities”

    FACT: $34 T is a number completely out of context. To prove how worthless and meaningless it is, you cannot tell me what exactly the $34T means. They are not past due claims; they are not current expenses.

    $34T happens to be exactly the cost of providing care for all currently living Americans (aged 1-99+, all 305 million of us) from the time they are eligible (age 65) until they die.

    Medicare today costs around $200B/yr. Even if we assume that the cost of baby boomers will raise to $600B or more (3x current), that cost, and that they all live to be 90 (25 years), the total cost would not reach $15T.

    I am sure you are not in the habit of quoting random numbers, so please do explain what the $34T means, because I think it means nothing.

    Fact: The Government doesn’t run health care; Medicare is not a Government run health care system. What it is is a reimbursement system. Doctors bill Medicare and payments are made.

    4) You state that “Health care is a privilege, not a right”

    FACT: In Western nations, the US being one of them, people don’t suffer and die of treatable disease as they would in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Everyone is treated regardless of their ability to pay.

    People also don’t suffer heart attacks, go without cancer treatment, or any of 1000’s of other medical conditions. Everyone receives treatment first.

    It has been this way for the last at least 70 years and probably for much much longer. Call it what you like, but it is only semantics to suggest that it is not a right. Everyone today get treatment.

    It has become a RIGHT a long long time ago, just like housing and food. For those that have no money at all, health care is already provided by every tax payer through Medicaid.

    5) You state that “How many of these 46 million are covered by Medicaid, … how many are covered by Medicare”

    FACT: The 46 Mil does not include anyone under 18, or those who have Medicaid or Medicare (or the 65+ crowd). It is not supposed to include undocumented workers either.

    A very good description of the problem is provided by the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank study (from 2004). http:// www. dallasfed. org/ research/swe/2004/swe0406a.html

    A brief summary, of 100% of the adult population, 66% of Americans have employer insurance, 10-12% have Medicaid, 2% have Medicare, leaving approximately 20-30% as uninsured. Of those, 70% are employed but either receive no insurance or cannot afford insurance, 9% are unemployed, and 20% are not employed (students, etc… ).

    The 46 Mil uninsured are still 46 Mil uninsured.

    Of those that for some reason don’t want it, they represent a sort of irresponsible group. We don’t allow people to drive a car without insurance because that represents a burden on everyone else. Similarly, when those that don’t want insurance get sick — and many do: health, injuries, … — someone has to then pay their bills.

    One way to pay for insurance is to “loan” insurance to people without a job: unemployed, students. People would get insurance for up to 5 years and then must pay it back in increments, by taking extra taxes.

    Your efforts to “deal with a small number” is a step, a right step, in providing health care reform. Unfortunately in the current case, the 46 Mil is still the number we all have to deal with.

    The main focus is the problem of the working-poor, people who work but cannot get insurance.

    • Just to remind you, this is my opinion site. I don’t have to back up every detail of my assertions and opinions. I know I have covered this with you in the past.

      You stated that “If you … believe that employers will continue to offer healthcare (sic) as a benefit if they don’t have to, they won’t.”
      FACT: the proposals in front of congress is not for a “free” government program where employers can simply tell everyone to get their health care from the government.
      The cost to the Government to subsidize health care for everyone would be, roughly, $3 Trillion dollars. No such plan is on the table.
      What is on the table is reform: (a) insurance companies cannot drop people due to pre-existing conditions, (b) a large scale purchase of insurance by the Government to keep costs low, (c) a requirement that everyone must buy their own insurance, and (d) some formula that defines who simply can’t afford it and provide them with a sliding scale subsidy.
      Which part of the items (a)-(d) do you have a problem with?

      We’ll see what comes through. I have seen nothing with the current administration that indicates an interest in the American people. What happens when the government starts to “compete” with private insurance companies? You know, the same government that really has no reason to control costs or the bureaucracy. I have a problem with the government getting any more involved that it already is at this point.

      You stated that “Also, the government can never run anything efficient and I’d love to see an example of where they can.”

      …Still waiting on a government program that has run anything more efficiently than private enterprise.

      You quote 20/20 as stating that “reported on Medicare’s $34 trillion in unfunded liabilities”

      Frankly, I was more interested in the article than the amount. I like John Stossel and wanted to throw that in there, but…here are a couple of articles here and here from your favorite source!

      Fact: The Government doesn’t run health care; Medicare is not a Government run health care system. What it is is a reimbursement system. Doctors bill Medicare and payments are made.

      Wrong. Medicare is a health insurance plan. Who pays for that health insurance plan? Taxpayers.

      You state that “Health care is a privilege, not a right”

      People think it is a right, but it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege that the US taxpayers allow individuals who cannot pay for their care to waltz right into any hospital and receive care. Indicate to me where it says in our Constitution that everyone is to be taken care of medically or any other way. We have the right to pursue our hopes and dreams as Americans without government intrusion but there is no right that the government has to take care of it’s citizens.

      You state that “How many of these 46 million are covered by Medicaid, … how many are covered by Medicare”
      FACT: The 46 Mil does not include anyone under 18, or those who have Medicaid or Medicare (or the 65+ crowd). It is not supposed to include undocumented workers either.
      Yes, actually it does include those under 18, but why squabble about 5 million.
      The 46 Mil uninsured are still 46 Mil uninsured.

      So let’s find a way to help the 46 million instead of burdening the rest of the producers. Those that are young and healthy only need a catastrophic plan. I had this type of plan when I was out of college – worked fine for my needs. I paid out of pocket for a doctor visit. Those over 65 are now covered (until this costs gets too costly). No matter how you look at it the actual taxpayers will be paying the frieght for any option.

      One way to pay for insurance is to “loan” insurance to people without a job: unemployed, students. People would get insurance for up to 5 years and then must pay it back in increments, by taking extra taxes.

      Great. Show me the plan.

      • A few comments…

        — The plan you propose, to help all 46 Million, would be by far costlier than the Obama/Democart plan being proposed. It would be far costlier in several respects and it is the reason none of the Republicans (other than Steele) are proposing it.

        — The Obama/Democrat plan is that every one is that everyone is required to have have health care insurance – mostly paid by the everyone instead of taxpayers. This substantially reduces the cost of insurance for everyone, like you and I. It is not a subsidy, except for some of the very poor.

        — Under your proposal, to pay for the 46 Million, many of whom can afford it but just won’t buy it (they are gaming the system), the cost of just catastrophic insurance would be $300B /yr. Many of them have children and children need regular check ups, as do adults.

        — The Obama plan cost is $50 B

        I think you are rallying against a plan in your mind that doesn’t exist in real life.

        is not to help the 46 Million as proposed by you. It is designed to require them to get

        So, you cannot defend Stossel but like him. What I get from your reply is that you do not understand and can’t justify the $34T.

        — The

      • Right v. Privilege

        I wanted to specifically post the right v. privilege question.

        If we agree that a right in only the rights enumerated in the constitution or in it’s amendments, then the rights we have are basically religion, assembly, free speech, gun ownership, and a host of others.

        Not included in those are education, even emergency evacuation services ~ which by that definition would technically all classify as a privilege.

        Your point is absolutely semantic drivel. A modern society would no more let someone rot in the street on the technical semantic that it is not an enumerated right.

        Food, shelter, heat, education, and health services are all items we as a modern society agree, out of a moral obligation, are provided. They are not constitutional rights, they are human dignity rights.

        Therefore there is little point to belittle “rights” v. privilege.

  3. Of course, I am interested in your 4-point plan. It may just work very well. Let’s hear it!

  4. Right v. Privlege

    A society is benevolent if it chooses to take care of those less fortunate. Food, shelter, heat, education, health services, etc. are nice to provide to those individuals, but they still are not “rights” of being a citizen in the US. Yes, this mentality goes back many years – probably really vamped up in the 30’s with The Great Society.

    46 million “uninsured”

    Still not buying the argument. You’ll never convince me that anything the Government is involved in will be cheaper and provide more choices. Show me where this has happened in the past. Maybe I’m missing something here Mike ol’ boy. 50 Billion? Rrrright….

    $34T Medicare cost

    The 34T figure is really not new. Here’s a nice article.

    Things must be slow at The Great Illuminator, huh?

  5. Glad to hear you speaking about the real plan. The actual plan is in flux as blue dems and the senate haven’t spoken yet.

    The 50 Billion number is taken right from the Republican party chart you posted.

    The key to the Obama plan is to introduce competition into pricing. I would prefer a method that provides that competition without creating a government run plan. I would place the entire purchase and management up for bid and let private insurers administer it. Then oversight can just manage keeping costs in control.

    That kind of thinking would have really helped Republicans instead of being heads-in-the-sand about it.

  6. The 50 Billion number is taken right from the Republican party chart you posted.

    What???? I guess we’re looking at two different charts. The one I posted was more of a joke of the democratic plan.

    The key to the Obama plan is to introduce competition into pricing. I would prefer a method that provides that competition without creating a government run plan. I would place the entire purchase and management up for bid and let private insurers administer it. Then oversight can just manage keeping costs in control.

    I think we’re on the same page here if the government actually stays out of things. Competition is a good thing – but I don’t that is the ultimate goal. Time will tell and we’ll see if this comes about. I’m very doubtful of the motivations of government. Absolute power does strange things to people of all stripes.

  7. You may have heard of elections. Paranoia over government is useful to a point.

    Your viewpoint of government as the problem is rooted in your coming of political age when that was a-mantra-without-a-purpose (the 80’s). I say that because every successive R administration has increased government and spending, while pretending to be against it.

    Your viewpoint goes further to state everything government does is over bloated bureaucracy and inefficiency. I would say that if you looked at departments like Interior you’d find a slim down efficient organization. No one argues that Medicare is over bloated with do-nothing staffers.

    You cannot compare Medicare, which treats a population whose members have significant ailments, with private plans, which have very few ailments. A more significant apples-to-apples comparison would be how effective at delivering care for the dollar for like patients, say treatable cancer like prostate. Where do you get better care?

    Instead of a blind war against government, it is far preferable to find the problem areas and fix them – or move them to private or give them competition to make them better.

    No one has ever argued that Medicare wields absolute power. It may be too generous in benefits, and it should be made to tax for those benefits so that it stays solvent.

  8. […] the citizenry has very little confidence in the ability of the government to craft an effective and efficient solution. What should we take from this? How about taking time to read the proposed legislation instead of […]

  9. […] turning the American health care system upside down is good … after all, what’s the rush […]

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