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Death Panels? They Already Exist

I just don't trust this guy.

I just don't trust this guy.

At a town hall meeting today in New Hampshire, President Obama “debunked” what he termed “wild misrepresentations,” including the notion that the final health care bill will not contain provisions for “death panels that will pull the plug on grandma.” That’s great news. Does that mean that the bill will force insurance companies to change policies they have in effect right now? Because insurance companies frequently refuse to pay for procedures they arbitrarily deem unnecessary, and when they do that, people sometimes die. nyceve at Daily Cheeto calls it Murder by Spreadsheet.

A story in Salon by Mike Madden, “The ‘death panels’ are already here,” highlights the same case that nyceve blogged about at the above link, and he offers several more examples of Murder by Spreadsheet. From Madden’s piece:

The future of healthcare in America, according to Sarah Palin, might look something like this: A sick 17-year-old girl needs a liver transplant. Doctors find an available organ, and they’re ready to operate, but the bureaucracy — or as Palin would put it, the “death panel” — steps in and says it won’t pay for the surgery. Despite protests from the girl’s family and her doctors, the heartless hacks hold their ground for a critical 10 days. Eventually, under massive public pressure, they relent — but the patient dies before the operation can proceed.

It certainly sounds scary enough to make you want to go show up at a town hall meeting and yell about how misguided President Obama’s healthcare reform plans are. Except that’s not the future of healthcare — it’s the present. Long before anyone started talking about government “death panels” or warning that Obama would have the government ration care, 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, a leukemia patient from Glendale, Calif., died in December 2007, after her parents battled their insurance company, Cigna, over the surgery. Cigna initially refused to pay for it because the company’s analysis showed Sarkisyan was already too sick from her leukemia; the liver transplant wouldn’t have saved her life.

I’m sure that politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are well aware that the current system does exactly what they claim to fear. Perhaps they assume they will be immune because they are *very important people* who are in the public eye.

More from Madden in Salon:

Opponents of reform often seem to skip right past any problems with the current system — but it’s rife with them. A study by the American Medical Association found the biggest insurance companies in the country denied between 2 and 5 percent of claims put in by doctors last year (though the AMA noted that not all the denials were improper). There is no national database of insurance claim denials, though, because private insurance companies aren’t required to disclose such stats. Meanwhile, a House Energy and Commerce Committee report in June found that just three insurance companies kicked at least 20,000 people off their rolls between 2003 and 2007 for such reasons as typos on their application paperwork, a preexisting condition or a family member’s medical history. People who buy insurance under individual policies, about 6 percent of adults, may be especially vulnerable, but the 63 percent of adults covered by employer-provided insurance aren’t immune to difficulty.

But Obama is being just as disingenuous as Palin and Gingrich when he claims that with his “reform,” insurance companies will no longer make life and death decisions about what kinds of health care we get.

Here is one of the promises that Obama made in today’s town hall meeting:

— You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don’t believe anyone should be in charge of your health insurance decisions but you and your doctor. (Applause.) I don’t think government bureaucrats should be meddling, but I also don’t think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling. That’s the health care system I believe in.

That might be the health care system Obama believes in, but it’s not the one he is pushing right now. Dakinikat pointed me to this version (pdf) of the health care “reform” bill, HR3200 and guided me to the relevant pages to check out Obama’s claims.

On page 30 of the bill, a “private-public” Health Benefits Advisory Committee is proposed which is to be chaired by the Surgeon General, and will consist of “a panel of medical and other experts…to recommend covered benefits and essential, enhanced, and premium plans.” Members of the committee will be government employees and private citizens appointed either by the President or the Comptroller General (p. 31). The bill requires the panel to include

providers, consumer representatives, employers, labor, health insurance issuers, experts in health care financing and delivery, experts in racial and ethnic disparities, experts in care for those with disabilities, representatives of relevant governmental agencies, and at least one practicing physician or other health professional and an expert on children’s health…

So the panel will represent the views of the government agencies, employers who pay for health insurance, and insurance companies. I’m sorry, but I simply don’t buy Obama’s claim that the only people involved in my health care decisions will be me and my doctor. BTW, how about an expert on gender disparities. WTF? Are women’s needs ever going to be represented under this President?

Obama also made this related promise at his health care forum in New Hampshire today.

— If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will do this without adding to our deficit over the next decade, largely by cutting out the waste and insurance company giveaways in Medicare that aren’t making any of our seniors healthier.

I’ve already dealt with the claim that insurance companies and bureaucrats aren’t going to be making health care decisions for us, but these arguments that Medicare is inefficient make me really nervous. Medicare already pays much less than private health insurance for the same procedures–and that means seniors either have to buy private medicare supplements or face severe limitations on which doctors will treat them. How do I know that the “waste” that will be cut out by Obama’s panel won’t negatively affect the coverage my parents get now and that I will get in a few years?

In summary, I do think the use of the term “death panel” is a bit incendiary, but the fact is that health insurance companies frequently make decisions about who will get coverage for certain medical procedures. I don’t see that changing under the so-called “reform” bill now under consideration. If the bill does prevent insurance companies from refusing to cover preexisting conditions, that would be terrific. But based on the many promises Obama has broken in his first seven or so months in office, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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189 Responses

  1. Why is there anyone left supporting this bill? It makes entirely no sense. He’s going to keep insurers honest by giving them an extended, captive market? Please. There is nothing in the bill that says when a doctor says you need test A the insurers have to pay for test A. This is a sham. I hope I never have to believe when I see it. I hope this thing is buried as it should be. He and McKaskill and Mark Warner, and others, are doing a really great job of redefining what Democrats have always argued government administered health care is when they thing like “I don’t think government bureaucrats should be meddling.” They are actually hurting the cause of ever having national health care in this country. This is the same bill the Blues wrote in MA but worse. Honestly, anyone supporting this clusterf*ck needs to see a doctor and have their head examined.

    • The only ones supporting the bill are those who stand to get rich from it and those too stupid to understand what’s going on. Pretty much the same formula that worked for W stupid bills in the past.

    • There is nothing in the bill that says when a doctor says you need test A the insurers have to pay for test A.

      No there isn’t. Instead they have turned the provision about pre-existing conditions into the entire selling point.

      • thats it. thats the best they can come up with. Of course if you force people to buy insurance you have to force the insurance companies to accept them.

      • Yes, this was the big give from the insurers in exchange for the captive market. The insurers freely admit this. They are even going to run ads about “imagine a world without pre-existing conditions”.

    • It’s very discouraging, but I’d almost rather have nothing than something worse than we already have. I’d also like to find out what they really plan to include in the final bill. But it sounds like that is going to be decided behind closed doors in the White House. That makes me nervous as hell!

      • It should make you nervous. This bill should be scrapped. It’s not going to suddenly get better behind closed doors.

        It’s a clusterf*ck:

        • I am writing letters to both of my Democratic Senators and my Democratic Representative and telling them that they will lose my vote if they participate in pushing into law a UHC plan that includes X, Y & Z and doesn’t include A, B & C (whatever I decide those items need to be).

          The stories of young people, and young mothers who have been denied care show up on the local news all the time. The insurance companies either cave to public pressure, or the public starts donating.

          They have a variety of reasons for denying treatment…I particularly love the “experimental” excuse. I am appalled and want this whole thing scrapped and back to the drawing board.

          They bring in medical company executives, pharma executives, etc….why can’t they bring in people who have those human stories to tell……

      • I’ve seen some provisions highlighted on other blogs that have made me very uncomfortable. It seems like a major power grab for the executive branch to set up the review panel, and I’m not even sure if there would be meaningful congressional oversight.

      • Oh, I think it is worse than nothing for the time being. I think we need to scrap this and start from scratch.

        It feels sort of like the same patchwork system only it will all cost more and some things will be cut (Medicare).

        btw, who does not have some pre-existing condition? unless you were just born, and even then they will say you were born with it.

    • they aren’t Democrats, they’re Corporocrats.

      • Agree (and that goes for the Republicans as well)

      • The more things change…The more they stay the same….

        An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…vote for me and I’ll set you free………..
        The politicians say more taxes will solve everything……….
        The sale of pills at an all time high…young folks walking ’round with their heads in the sky….

        The more things change….The more they stay the same!

  2. There really are death panels. But the issue really isn’t about death panels, it’s about trust. In order to sell universal health care to the public, you have to convince them that they can trust their Gov. Except you can’t really ever trust the Gov so what you have to do is point out that there is a system in place that will protect people if the Gov forgets “to care”about them. For medicare we have an appeals process, a peer review board, and people have the right to purchase supplimental insurance. We also put the rich in the program which assures quality stays high

    Obama and the Dems have done nothing to reassure people that the Gov can be trusted with health care. He lies about what is in the bill, Dems call people who criticize it “un-American”, they set up this fishy reporting website, and they have secret meetings with pharmaceuticals.

    • And, Obama has more of his faux-townhalls. He’s still electioneering. How many more years of this?

      • His New Hampsire town hall seemed so phony in comparison to what McCaskill and Specter had to deal with. I shut it off after a few minutes because I just couldn’t take it any more.

        He actually had the nerve to suggest that doctors don’t provide enough preventative care to diabetics because they get paid more money to perform amputations.

          • That’s disgusting!

          • Wow. He really is clueless. And he always seems to be offending a group of people. Now he’s going after the doctors who treat diabetes? Not smart!

          • OK, this one minute snippet was not so bad. He did press for better payment for primary care, at least. But the B0 in a doctor’s coat photo still pisses me off.

        • uh-oh…he already made the ENT’s mad, now he’ll be hearing from doctors who care for diabetics. Obama needs to either educate himself or stop pretending to know all about doctors.

          • Who is writing his stuff?

          • Do you sometimes just look at this guy, recognize him as clearly only five years removed from his part-time job on the Ill. state leg, and think he is in waaaay over his head?

          • Obama is someone who can only make himself and his ideas look good by making someone else look bad. He needs a bad guy, it’s part of his routine (probably going back to his community organizing days).

            During the election, Bush and Palin (and lobbyists) served the role of bad guy. Since he’s done backroom deals with insurers and pharma, now he’s stretching to find a bad guy to play off of.

          • Not to mention that while some amputations DO occur because there has been inadequate preventive care (mostly in the uninsured), most are not because of that.

            I’ve seen countless diabetic patients over the years end up with an amputation, and very rarely was it due to “inadequate” preventive care. Almost all of them were due to patient non-compliance, pure and simple. They refused to observe the diet, refused to check their blood sugars, refused to take their medications as prescribed, not matter how much begging, pleading, cajoling, and warning we did.

            Which is one reason why I have issues with the idea of “outcome-based” fee schedules that Obama has been suggesting. Because you know which doctors will likely have the biggest number of the above non-compliant patients, and thus “bad outcomes”? Those who work in poor, ill-educated, no transportation, etc areas. Oh, yeah, let’s penalize THOSE guys financially.

            Think of a medical “No Child Left Behind” – the ones hurt will be the communities who most need to be served.

          • Think of a medical “No Child Left Behind” – the ones hurt will be the communities who most need to be served.


          • It is really painful to listen to him talking about diabetes. No matter what he talks about he always sounds the same. Rare passion, halting and stumbling, as if he’s only half-way engaged.

            Someone tell the woman in the back row that’s not much to grin about.

        • He is a flaming idiot.

          Um…… the doctor who does an amputation is a SURGEON. He does not take care of your diabetes. He cuts people. That’s it. That’s all. That’s what he/she does. The doctor who takes cares of your diabetes is either a GP, family practice, internist, or sometimes an endocrinologist. NONE of those docs do amputations.

          So no, President Clueless, healthcare costs are not due to foot-chopping family docs or a national epidemic of tonsil thievery as you suggested at your last town hall.

          • Somebody should do a post analyzing BO’s townhall and documenting the stupidity.

          • Sam, you are sooo right. Bo always has to have a boogie man — or woman. That has always been his strategy.

          • This all sounds like a scheme of Obama’s to say that doctor’s are bad. Who told him that?? He is a f–king idiot.

          • President clueless is married to a previous hospital administrator. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing which makes it even more reprehensible.

          • The only solution, I’m turning in desperation to the 3 stooges. Putting on DVD, play, aaaaaaah, that’s better…

          • WMCB – that’s the exact same mistake he made with the tonsils example, saying that doctors choose to do tonsilectomies (sp?) because they get more money. Um – pediatricians and surgeons are two different people! For someone they say is so bright, he doesn’t learn too fast.

        • Well, we all know he’s an expert at second-guessing the motives of everyone and anyone.

        • Not long ago (within the past 2 years) the discovery that gastric bypass reversed Type 2 diabetes almost instantly. Imagine all the other health issues that would be addressed if a reasonable share (those who were willing to go through the procedure) of over-weight adult-onset diabetics were able to get the bypass done.

          Insurance won’t pay unless your employer specifically states they want that surgery covered in their policy to the employees.

          • Is that because it forces them to eat a certain type of food, or because it forces them to lose weight, do you know?

        • I imagine he thinks so because that’s what he would do.

          • He says diabetes is a preventable disease but he never differentiates between Type 1 and Type 2. Do you think he knows the difference or is he lumping them all together. Rose will not be cured by losing weight.

          • Frankly, I doubt he knows which way is up before Axelrod points it out each morning.

        • sam, on August 11th, 2009 at 6:22 pm Said:
          His New Hampshire town hall seemed so phony in comparison to what McCaskill and Specter had to deal with. I shut it off after a few minutes because I just couldn’t take it any more….

          You know I think the McCaskill and Specter meetings and the like were a set up so Obama’s would stand in stark contrast.

          I never understood why Dems were sent out to an angry public , having no clue about what the bill says and appearing even though their own blogs say “teabaggers provocateurs would be there. So why go? To make Obama look good? They would do alot worse and more to gain that end . It was a set up.

          • Not very smart—all they succeeded in doing was making O’s display look really fake.

        • Alright, that is beyond the pale. I am a physician, and while any profession has its problems, most docs I know are decent, hardworking, compassionate people.

          That photo of B0 dressed as a doctor is very offensive to me, especially when he goes around spouting that crap.

          He is not a feminist, he is not the messiah, he’s not a doctor. But he wants us to think he’s all that. He reminds of the character DiCaprio played in ‘Catch Me If You Can’–a man who pretended to be a pilot, physician, and lawyer for years before he was apprehended.

      • I’d say about 7 1/2…ugh

  3. great job BB~ I know that I am suddenly quite thankful for my $500 per month health insurance. gawd knows what it will end up costing after this mess.

    thought this was an interesting read on the same topic:

    • Thanks! Believe me, I’m no expert, but I’m trying to get up to speed on this with help from Dakinikat. I’ll be glad for any input I can get from commenters.

      What makes me mad is the constant distractions–every time Palin says anything at all, they focus on that, while obscuring any real information about the “reform” they plan to foist on us.

      I want single payer!!

      • It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

      • silly me, i read the entire thing …didn’t take that long and wasn’t that challenging. The print is big, it’s double spaced and the margins are pretty large and there are a lot of bolded headlines that in that page count too …

      • I personally believe that some may have felt that Palin’s opposition to his plan could be a “selling point”: to the mindless zombies on the left who automatically feel it is their duty to demonize anything Republican(even if that something is godawful).

        • I agree. Attacking Palin is the default action setting for the Obama administration and the fools who still believe a word they say.

        • Hey I can see the Mitt/ Jeb wing encouraging Palin and the Dems running with it…. as a tag team . I don’t see a difference between party elites. Both want more money and less sick people for the insurers…I think the town hall kabuki is in part a way to heighten the differences in their bases…cause there aren’t any at the top.

      • we are still in Iraq, we are losing in Afghanistan, He is using signing statements, health care negotiations are secret….. oh look there is Sarah Palin……

  4. “Death Panels” do exist but not because of the HC Bill in Congress, but it’s the rationed care done by the private insurance and it kinda makes sense (I’m sorry).

    In the case of certain transplants, the waiting list is very very long. You could be on for years.

    Insurance and medical staff think it’s preferable to give the organ to a a “healthy” twenty-something than to someone who has different ailments, same reasoning vs much elder citizen (I think at a certain age you don’t even make the waiting list).

    Moreover, they prefer to give the transplant to someone with health insurance or who is “flushed” b/c the immuno-suppressant necessary are pretty expensive and without those, the patient will lose the transplant.

    You kinda see the reasoning here.

    • Yeah, well, they also do sneaky things so that if you are sick you may find out way too late. Like my young friend who dropped 40 pounds in a couple of months for no apparent reason. His doctors want a CAT Scan. The insurers said not necessary as it might be do to stress. Of course it may not be due to stress. I’d trust the Medicare administrators with rationing any day before i trust a private, for-profit company.

      • How do you ever trust someone whose bonuses depend on denying you benefits?

      • I don’t trust medicare administrators with rationing and really, neither does anyone else. There’s a whole balanced system behind medicare so you are not trapped at the mercy of a government bureaucrat. There’s a private peer review board, state medicaid boards that pick up the slack, there are private supplimental inusrers, and more importantly medicare is not means tested. It serves the wealthy as well as the poor, so the quality is assured.

        Those are the kinds of things we need to put behind universal health care. Until we do, “death panels” are a real possibility.

        • That’s it in a nutshell. Medicare is set up now so it’s not necessary for you to trust the “administrator”. You have recourse. Without any recourse, we’re all screwed.

          • Thank you . Plus however bad medicare may or may not be…you don’t have to pay though the nose for it and you have a far better chance of actully getting the care you were promised.

            However bad government care supposedly is….you don’t lose your house and children’s collage money with it when you are trying to stay alive. We are at the point were private insurance and medicare both have problems . But with medicare, only 5% of every dollar spent , is spent on adminastitive costs and the with private company , it’s 30-35%….why don’t we ration that cost? How much more care could be given if it was 5%? If the government is willing to give insurers a 900 billion bailout of our money …why do we need private insurance companies? So they can tell us sorry , you’re not covered while paying their CEO millions…what for?

            I would much rather get my health care from a place connected to someone I could vote out every two years, than a faceless corporate company who tells me I have to understand, their stock holders are more important than my life.

    • No, I don’t kinda see the reasoning. It’s downright disgusting to penalize people for their economic situation. It’s just a flippin’ step above eugenics IMO.

      • You have one kidney and 1000 people on the waiting list. What do you do? Divide it by 1000?

        Moreover, why give it to someone who doesn’t have health insurance or cannot afford the medication.

        Aren’t playing too easily with the word eugenics here?

        • “Moreover, why give it to someone who doesn’t have health insurance or cannot afford the medication.”

          Wow, well,, that’s why I believe in equitable health care for all.

          • That issue wouldn’t arise if everyone was covered like in “Socialist” “Old” Europe.

            But the curve of life quality will always be a factor in such decision.

        • This isn’t about organ transplants. It’s about insurance companies who deny needed procedures to patients because they don’t want to pay for it. There are other examples in the Salon article–like the women who had breast cancer and was refused coverage for her needed mastectomy.

          • I agree, bb. The question is whether govt rationing will be better for most. It will certainly be better for the uninsured, and some others, but for most? People aren’t buying it, unless you can show them a clear plan with clear limits on what exactly the coverage process will be. Telling them it will be left up to some nebulous board to change at will isn’t reassuring them much.

            I’m working on a post about the horrors of the insurance end, BTW.

          • I know. I just wanted to show that there is rationed care already and there’s a panel but it’s not because of the (already bad) bill.

            By the way did anybody else read this piece about “rescission”?

            Unconscionable Math

        • No I’m not. There is little difference between force sterilizing people and making the pronouncement that people who are too poor don’t deserve life saving treatment because they are poor. Both are despicable practices.

          As for what to do regarding , the first person on the list that is compatible regardless of income should get the kidney. Medication should be affordable regardless of income level. As far as I’m concerned it’s that darn simple. People who make six figure incomes are no more deserving of life than the masses of people they rely on to cook, clean and be the serving class(all the way up until they are sick so they can be tossed away like used kleenex. Revolting.)

          • Sometimes they must give the organ to the sickest person (although I’m sure there’s some kind of check to make sure they’re not so sick as to not survive the surgery, etc.). I had a friend on a waiting list, and she told me that she couldn’t move up on the list until the people “more in need” (less time to wait for help) were helped. This was a waiting list for lungs. I’m not positive, but I think those were the rules of place that “holds” the list.

        • So now organs should only go to the entitled because they happened to be insured? Gee, how close to a caste system are we getting here. The reality is in many states people who are actually SICK can’t work, and can’t GET insurance because the individual market won’t cover them or the premiums are so high they can’t afford them.

          So slap em in the face, sorry, no soup for you.

          • How unfortunate for “those” people. Don’t you know the Paris Hiltons of the world are so much more deserving than the folks who perform menial labor and dirty their hands daily at the local Walmarts or McDonalds. They should have been smart enough to have gotten themselves born into a household with a built in safety net.

            It makes me positively livid. A person toils for years only to be struck down by a malady and our so called “civilized” country believes its okay to turn their backs on them because they are poor and sick. Meanwhile people like CEOs at Goldman Sachs are deserving because they managed to bilk the system with unscrupulous behavior that stacked the cards in their favor? It isn’t bad enough that the privileged few make 360 times what their workers make, nosiree, they should also get preferential treatment when it comes to the transplant list. Reprehensible.

    • I thought I made it clear in the post that both sides are lying about this.

  5. The issue that neither side wants to discuss openly and honestly is what limits, if any, are there to the right to health care?

    • Oh, yeah. And neither side wants to touch that, but for very different reasons.

    • I think the right has made it clear that they don’t think health care *is* a right.

      I’d also like to know how they plan to cover people who don’t have jobs or are self-employed, but I haven’t read the whole bill yet.

    • The other thing they don’t want to touch is okay, let’s say everyone has a right to basic humane healthcare. But should it be illegal for those who want and can afford more-than-basic to go pay for it if they want?

      Is the intent to provide everyone with care, or is the intent to have the govt make sure that no one, ever, under any circumstances, gets better care than someone else? No one wants to talk about that. It’s a political bombshell.

      • Well, Medicare for All,is like that, supplemental. I’m ok with that. I don’t expect utopia. I do expect our federal government to treat basic health care like any public service responsibility and not abdicate it to the private sector. Under the French system, though, even though they have supplemental, the sicker you get, the more you are covered. It’s very humane.

      • I believe Germany has allowed people to buy supplemental coverage for years.

        To be honest, before doing something as big as reforming health care, it probably would help to study health care in other countries to see which ones have implemented the best solutions.

        • If they did that, Americans would find out that health care is way cheaper and better in other countries.

          • I can’t believe how cheaper healthcare is here in Germany.

            Because I have a bad back, I got prescribed 6 massages, 6 manual therapy, 6 sessions of therapeutic exercise at the hospital gym, 6 fango therapy (where I always fall asleep b/c it’s so relaxing). For all of that, I received a bill of 40 Euros, roughly $50.

            Before we left Boston, my daughter got her braces from some highly regarded dental guru in Groton, MA. Even with insurance, I was making close to $600 (yup, sixhundred) payment every month. Here, they find a way to do it for free. Her current dentist used to teach at Harvard Med too and his praxis is at least at nice at the one in Groton.

            I could go on and on.

            The whole HC discussion back at home just frustrates me.

          • Germany has a mixed public/private system, with strict regulation on the private insurers. The pool is funded via taxes but also employee/employer premiums on a sliding income scale. According to wiki, there are around 1100 public or private pools you can join.

            Interestingly, they do allow upper income people to opt out of the “standard” plans entirely and purchase private insurance if they choose, but they pay a small tax to be allowed to do so, plus the cost of whatever private insurance they purchase. 92% of the population is insured on the govt private/public plans, though.

            Germany’s system is a good one to study.

        • You can buy private health insurance in France, if you desire. There are some private hospitals/clinics there. Switzerland is all private but still everyone is covered and the market is strictly regulated.

          Medicare for All should really be a floor beyond which no one can drop in coverage. If the well-to-do want more, let them buy it but still be in Medicare.

          • That’s my thought. Or if people would like to opt-out, I don’t have a big issue with it, despite cries of two-tiered care, if you make it sensible.

            Germany solves this by allowing you to opt out, but you are REQUIRED to have insurance, and you pay a tax on top of that for the privilege of opting out. Few people do.

          • Floor is a really bad term for what Medicare should be in this. It’s more like a good insurance policy now. We can let the rich buy their Mercedes coverage on top of it 🙂

            I’ve always thought the German system would be a real possibility for us. I’ve heard quite a bit about Taiwan or South Korea, whichever one is the lates UHC system set up. They supposedly went around the world, picking the best pieces that fix their culture. That’s a really good idea.

          • It seems to me the the Swiss plan might be one that could work in the US. My Swiss friends say they have excellent care under it. Since they arel citizens of SW, Canada, and Germany—they have real comparative experience and prefer the SW.

    • One of the reasons health care has become so expensive is that there has been so much progress and innovation. They can do so much more now to prolong life. Complicated procedures which weren’t even thought of 50 years ago are now common place.

      Drugs can also significantly alter the progression of certain chronic diseases, yet many of these are extremely expensive.

      Group insurance is based on the concept of pooling risks, yet how can this risk pooling function for health care, when it is becoming more and more common for each individual to require expensive health care at some point during their life time? Granted the most expensive years are currently covered by medicare, but there are still patients covered by health insurance who need extremely expensive care.

      So I agree with you, neither side wants to openly and honestly discuss the absolute right to health care, cost benefit analysis or opportunity costs. These discussions would most likely prove uncomfortable for everyone involved.

      • I really hate to say this but the market has also been distorted quite a lot by the simple fact of insurance. Patients are largely paying with someone else’s money. I don’t know how big a factor that is in the cost of care, but considering greed in America, it may big or tiny.

  6. Oh brother, “turns out Hillary may be right too” — Rick Sanchez is such a bozo —

    • Now it’s a “angry outburst?” What’s next, tirade? Unhinged diatribe?

    • Who’s afraid of the big, bad Clinton?

      I find the media response rather surreal. When I watched video footage yesterday of the exchange, I cackled — yes, cackled — with glee, because here was a female politician demanding to be taken seriously. There was no head tilt, no shrug of the shoulders, no half-assed smile, no flush of the cheeks, as we’re so accustomed to seeing from women. Instead, she asked incredulously: “Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks?” And then she continued sharply, staring down the audience member: “My husband is not secretary of state. I am. If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.” She was straightforward and unyielding: No, you will not think of me as a mere mouthpiece for my husband. I tell you, Hillary has never stirred such warmth in my heart.

  7. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-ap-us-health-care-swastika,0,2774811.story

    This is just stupid. It is not the way to make a point or be heard.



  8. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-ap-us-obama-health-care-overhaul,0,1111153.story

    Did the chosen few bow down and cry ” I believe, I believe” to the one?



  9. http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/83293/

    Arlen Spector’s town hall meeting video.

    should we all sing ” the rubber band man?”



    • How about the magic bullet man?

      • I saw him at 30th st station in Philadelphia. I wanted him to be secretary of defense. Think of all the taxes we could have saved buying bullets that take out 3 people at a time.
        No body would let me nominate him for the job.



  10. wmcb, on August 11th, 2009 at 6:58 pm Said:
    I agree, bb. The question is whether govt rationing will be better for most. It will certainly be better for the uninsured, and some others, but for most? People aren’t buying it, unless you can show them a clear plan with clear limits on what exactly the coverage process will be. Telling them it will be left up to some nebulous board to change at will isn’t reassuring them much.

    I’m working on a post about the horrors of the insurance end, BTW.

    I am against the panel completely. But most doctors say working with Medicare is much simpler. Actually, Obama’s doctor said in 40 years he never had Medicare get in the way of prescribed treatment, but insurers always do. I don’t like the board. I disagree with Paul Krugman. I see it as a sneaky way to make Medicare cuts where no one can hold the pols accountable.

    • Yes, Medicare is tons simpler from a provider point of view. But this bill is not an expansion of Medicare, it’s a creation of a whole ‘nother bureaucracy with centralized powers to make arbitrary changes that Medicare never had.

    • I can’t wait to read your post.

      • I have grandbaby duty this week, so am popping in and out 5 minutes at a time – hard to concentrate on anything lengthy. . Dad takes over by Friday, so hopefully can get the damn thing done and polished off by then.

        I also do hubby’s billing entry, hours a day, so a lot of my lengthy online time is with his work laptop open on one side of me, and my own laptop with TC on the other. Not bad working conditions, I must say, and I can do it barefoot in a teeshirt. 🙂

      • Me too.

  11. http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=911911

    “The second person “randomly” selected to ask a question was a young girl called Julia Hall from Malden MA (asks question at 29m:25s).

    Julia read the following question off a piece of paper: “As I was walking in I saw a lot of signs outside saying mean things about reforming healthcare. How do kids know what is true and why do people want a new system that can help more of us”.

    This randomly asked question gave Obama the perfect opportunity to dismiss talk about “death panels that will pull the plug on Grandma” and to blame Republicans for everything. Over on the town hall comments thread AtomicPunk09 discovered someone on facebook who might possibly be Julia’s mother and had a photo of her with Obama:”

    Didn’t Hillary get in trouble for planting questions? Wasn’t it a big deal when she supposedly did it?

    • Geesh, the first thing they should do is stop treating us all like we’re children. Kind of stupid children at that.

  12. wmcb, on August 11th, 2009 at 8:01 pm Said:

    That’s my thought. Or if people would like to opt-out, I don’t have a big issue with it, despite cries of two-tiered care, if you make it sensible.

    Germany solves this by allowing you to opt out, but you are REQUIRED to have insurance, and you pay a tax on top of that for the privilege of opting out. Few people do.

    Yeah, we already have a multi-tiered system here.

    • Yep. I’m not a purist. I don’t approach UHC from an intensely ideological place. It’s all about what’s practical to me.

      • Me too. That’s actually why i support Medicare for All. I can not stomach the thought of subsidizing corporate profits just to provide americans basic health care. It isn’t rational. I understand there will always be the have-mores, but I can not condone paying way more for something the government can do for less. That’s what gets lost on the benevolent democrats. They’d say give them all subsidies. We’ll pay way more that we have to, but more people will be covered. I say that’s not sensible.

        • Actually, in the systems that are working well, very few (the poorest of the poor) pay nothing, and a good many are not heavily subsidized. The rich pay more, but everyone pays something. Poland has a tax that ranges from I think 4% to 8%, and if you work, you pay, period.

          • Well, see, I like that. That’s a system of fairness not benevolence. It has staying power.

  13. Another Claire McCaskill video. In this one, two women had to be escorted out of the hall. Can’t help but wonder how happy these Senators and Congress people will be with Obama by the time this recess is over. He gets scripted town halls with screened audiences, and they get to deal with angry protesters and constituents. He has secret service protection, and they probably have to worry about their own security.

  14. We need to look at the Australian health care model. There’s a discussion on another board (Artists) with Australians participating and describing what the health care system is like down under. Seems we can learn from Australia — and the point was made that they aren’t tied to a company because of health insurance. This encourages more small businesses — because health insurance isn’t a concern for employees or employers.

  15. Don’t know if you have ever watched this movie….”The Corporation.” You can find it on Youtube if your interested in watching it.

    A coup is no longer necessary for the corporation to dominate governments. Capitalism’s protagonists and players are the new high priests of our day. Industry and government have become intertwined to the extent that it’s hard to tell when one ends and the other begins. But citizens are resisting and protesting their dissent to the centralization of power in corporate hands. The corporation has responded by enacting programs of corporate social responsibility. Are they just a tactic responding to market pressure?

  16. Here’s the problem with “medicare for all” and the pols are well aware that most of the public doesn’t know what they REALLY did in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2005. Most of the big changes go into effect next year which begin to move medicare in a decidedly privatized direction.

    • The creation of the Medicare Advantage Plans (privately run Medicare HMO’s) was the WORST thing that ever happened to Medicare. Most patients tried it, then went back to standard Medicare when they could.

      Those suckers cost on average 12% more in tax-dollar subsidies than the regular Medicare. But they say we need more of them??? They are fucking nuts.

      • This plan was in the works for a while. Of course that’s just my humble opinion.

        • That’s roll out, not “role” out. Ooooops

        • Oh damn damn damn!

          We can be sure that the tonedeafness of the administration will never be covered by any plan.

        • If they do that like the MMAs, the rollout will be voluntary. No one was forced to join a Medicare Advantage plan. I don’t see the sky falling.

  17. I was always taught “he who has the money, has the power”. Guess that says something of my upbringing.But, maybe it says a whole lot about our government. Since large donors pay to place a favorable person to sit in the white house and branches of government, it tells me who has the power.

  18. Did Obama use these lies to debunk those rationing rumors today?

    “President Obama today suggested that the health care reform legislation for which he’s pushing has been endorsed by the American Association of Retired Person.

    “We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors,” the president said.

    At another point he said: “Well, first of all, another myth that we’ve been hearing about is this notion that somehow we’re going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?”

    The problem?

    The AARP hasn’t endorsed any plan yet. ”


    How does someone who constantly lies manage to debunk anything? Sheesh.

    • Like most narcissists, he is often caught lying and inflating – sometimes about big things, and sometimes about small inconsequential things.

  19. We should go to these townhalls and protest the astroturf. We can make signs. “Quit astroturfing the astroturfers!”

  20. Here’s a clip of him claiming AARP endorses his plan

  21. Sort of late to the party but can anyone tell me how the bill plans to force insurance carriers to cover folks with pre-existing conditions – at reasonable rates.

    Seems to me the insurance companies will stay – Ok, we will write them and then assigned them to a high risk pool with higher, way higher, premiums. That’s what they do with drivers with bad records and homeowners with too many claims. Why won’t they do that with health insurance also?

    In fact, don’t they already do that? One of my neighbors, 39 year old male, is diabetic and he can get insurance for the small sum of $1,200 a month. In other words, he doesn’t have health insurance.

    • correction – “insurance companies will say”

      “assign them”

      I shouldn’t type with one hand while eating popcorn.

    • I think the rest of us will subsidize those with pre-existing conditions. That’s why they want everyone to have to purchase insurance (to help avoid anti-selection, where only those needing the coverage due to health concerns would purchase it, and to provide a greater number of participants to spread the cost over).

      • Thank you for your response. I admit that I am not paying too much attention to several portions of the bills because I move to single payer in a couple of months so I am mostly watching for Medicare changes. Given the cost of supplemental coverage I am re-thinking my plans to stop working. Too bad – I would like to get out of the work force.

        If I heard right- during Senator McCaskill’s townhall meeting today she brushed off a question about HR 3200 saying that it would not pass. She would only talk about the senate bill.

        Its no wonder folks are confused…

  22. My husband is a city librarian In PA. In about 5 days he could be canned as they will close all libraries because the State has not passed its budget. Many thousands of state workers have it far worse. They have worked without pay since July 1…their costs didn’t stop( childcare etc) just their pay checks… many are going into debt just to live. But you’ll love this part, the PA state lawmakers at the capital created a 100 million slush fund to be used for their pay checks. ….which explains the day at the beach speed the lawmakers are approaching this crisis with ….and all this ties into: how are people going to pay though the nose for the private insurance they will be required to buy, if they keep canning our asses? I don’t see any let up in that …WTF? They are creating private insurance empires completely and surreally unsuitable for the job trashing and slashing world they are also creating. Something gotta give.

    • That’s the point — I doubt that the majority of Americans can pay more — a whole lot more to support the “health” insurance company CEOs.

      The 0zero crowd also want to raise the taxes — and gas is going up again.

      The middle class is the golden goose — and the politicians are going to kill the golden goose.

      Too many people have relatives or friends who are suffering and/or dying because insurance companies are playing doctor — just making it hard to impossible to deal with the crazies who are practicing medicine without a license.

      The current system is bad — but the mess that the congress is trying to force down our throats is really worse. My only joy is that the 0bots are now bitching loud and long. Too bad — their kids are going to suffer along with everyone else for their mistake in judgment.

  23. It sounds like people are picking certain parts of the proposed health plan and understanding them to mean whatever suits them.

    • Actually I would imagine most of us have read the 1000 page tragedy that is being touted as “reform.”

      If we are having to fill in the blanks don’t blame us blame the President and Congress for their “reform”

  24. Comes the Revolution? h/t to JSOM at LR…
    From MarketWatch:

    “Expect a major house-cleaning, a second American Revolution. We predicted the “Great Depression 2″ around 2012. Well, we doubt taxpayers will passively sit one more time, like in the 1930s, in 2000, and the past few years. Next time voters will take a page from the history books about past revolutions in the American Colonies, France and Russia. A perfect storm will erupt…”


  25. If anyone is working on a post about Obama’s town hall, they might want to catch this:


    This was covered by a blog earlier, but real clear politics is more main stream.

    • “Julia’s mother was an early Obama supporter in Massachusetts during the presidential election, so she had previously met First Lady Michelle Obama, the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia, and Vice President Joe Biden.”

      What an amazing coincidence that Obama asked her a question. Not too many girls get to meet the first lady, the president’s daughters, the vice president and just so happen to get randomly picked to ask a question at a town hall.

  26. Oh my, we’re going to be beaten to UHC by China.

    “China announced that it intended to spend $123 billion by 2011 to establish universal health care for the country’s 1.3 billion people.”


    • Ok – that’s it. I’m moving.

    • I’ve already thought about moving to Canada or the UK for better health care. I guess I’ll have to add China to the list even before Obama leaves office.

    • BTW, I’m really glad that China is seeking to do this. Goodness knows their 1.3 billion population needs it.

    • Yup, beaten by China. Pathetic, isn’t it? Ezra Klein called it “American exceptionalism getting out of hand” or something like that.

  27. “China announced that it intended to spend $123 billion by 2011 to establish universal health care for the country’s 1.3 billion people.”
    We could do the same if we didn’t have the insurance companies sucking up $600 Billion per year of the health care dollars.

    • Why whatever would they use to fill the Presidential and Congressional coffers without that $600 billion they picked from the pockets of the suckers- er I mean consumers who purchase their products under the erroneous assumption that they have a safety net should a major medical malady occur?

  28. Who was that gun-toting anti-Obama protester? One of Tuesday’s big mysteries was the motivation behind anti-Obama protester William Kostric, the man who brought a loaded gun to the town hall meeting and carried a sign referencing Thomas Jefferson’s famous credo, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”

    • I have to say, that I have been very bothered by the ‘bring your guns to the protest’…I have never so much as even brought a bat, or a stick for that matter to a protest. I found this man’s message very distressing and wondered who’s blood he was hoping would be shed?

  29. WMCB: As you are putting your post together, can you say more about the Medicare Advantage issue. I understand that one of the Medicare cutbacks is to do away with these options; I think I read that care under these plans is 14% higher than straight mc. I used to be on the Kaiser/Sr. Advantage. I don’t think I really knew what the plan was other than you sign your medicare rights over to the specific provider—in my case Kaiser. This included my medical costs (A and B) and my prescriptions (part D). I now have straight medicare w/o Part D because I don’t take any prescriptions but I also now have BC Anthem. Anyway as I look at it in the rear view mirror—the fact that the Kaiser Advantage program included a prescription drug (part D) would seem to make it more expensive because you are getting more. My plan also gave me vision and dental (not sure if that was with Kaiser however). I guess my big question is if the Advantage plans give srs. drug, dental and vision+ medical they would be covering more so likely to cost more—-is this the issue and is this what they want to cut back? I think the prescription coverage was definitely costly for someone like me who was getting insurance for an unneeded benefit.

  30. Chris Matthews Unloads On Protester Who Carried Gun To Obama Event

  31. They tried to interject (still are) racism into the POS healthcare idea. Now they have started calling those who oppose this crap plan “un-American”, “Nazi”.
    They have got some nerve calling anyone anything since they’ve only had one senate member w/ a kid who served in Iraq.
    The name calling is starting to get real old. Let’s see – I’ve been called crazy, cunt, stupid bitch, racist, gun-toting, red-neck all for supporting Hillary.
    The only reason they are going in w/ the name calling is that they know the plan is crap. It’s what they did to get that sad sack elected.

  32. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574344672056749360.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    Is the present day congress dumber than a box of rocks?
    They have no connection with the American People.



  33. He wasn’t far off with the example. The medical industry would much rather push people to drastic in most instances it pays more.

    However, prevention is not usually anything the doctor can do. Can the doctor force a patient to stop drinking, smoking? That’s prevention, and that’s the patient’s job.

    Diabetes type 2 is a created disease, caused by obesity, Doctors can’t force people to diet and exercise. The person has to do it themselves, and they won’t up to the point where they can’t . By constant gorging massive amounts of food, you overtax the pancreas until finally it just gives up. No amount of care after that can stop the inevitable Diabetes type 2

  34. RNC Chair Michael Steele Says Sarah Palin’s “Death Panels” Comment is Accurate

  35. Republican-Georgia: Johnny Isakson’s “Death Panel” Plea, 4/24/08 I think you ought to be required to execute a durable power of attorney when you become eligible. Eighty percent of the cost of health care to me, to you, and to anybody else happens in the last 60 days of life. More often than not, people are not in a condition to make a decision for themselves. Because of laws, and because we are a compassionate nation, the physician will keep you alive as long as he can. If you had a chance, you might rather say if I am being hydrated and given nutrition but will never become conscious again, I give the doctors the authority to make the appropriate medical decision. MEMO to RNC Chair Michael Steele, isn’t that your guy?

    • RNC Chair Michael Steele needs to stop flaming the fear mongering, because even his own party’s elected congressman believes in ‘Living Wills’. The meme of ‘Death Panels’ is getting out of hand and the GOP needs to put forth their solutions, or are they saying to the millions of uninsured to eat cake?

  36. Katy Abrams wants to return the vision of the Founding Fathers and repeal Medicare! WOWZA! Seniors, they aren’t looking out for you, they want to repeal Medicare and Social Security…maybe you can go on a mission like the folks she knows and take care of each other??? Katy doesn’t want you suffering under Medicare and Social Security (they are SOCIALIST PROGRAMS), and wants you to be free to be poor and without insurance.

  37. Hardball-Specter Town Hall guest Katy Abram not political until “Obama Socialism” appeared

    • Obama steps-up healthcare fight: US President Barack Obama has accused some opponents of his healthcare reform proposals of trying to “scare the heck” out of people.(BBC World News)

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