Health Care Reform: What is the real issue?

Here is a discussion I had on Facebook in response to this article about Obama’s health care reform (or rather health care insurance reform). It ‘s not a bad article and makes a good point, but I’m ever the critic. Here was my first comment:

I’ve never been one to think in black/white terms. I didn’t assume the health care reform either had to be a total success or a total failure. It has both some good aspects and some less-than-good aspects. From my perspective, it simply isn’t what the majority of Americans wanted which was either public option or single payer.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/health-reform-public-option-polls-other-info/

If not for lobbyists, we would already have public option or single payer. But Obama threw those off of the table. Why should we be satisfied with crumbs instead of demanding the whole pie? Yes, crumbs are nice when you are starving, but that should be the bare minimum of a starting point.

I understand looking for the positive. Anything is better than nothing. But let us not be overly grateful in begging for these crumbs. We shouldn’t have to beg for crumbs in the first place.

My friend Nicole responded with this:

“Agreed but there is a difference between being overly grateful and being downright hateful (not you personally but so many people on “Obamacare”)”

Continuing my criticism, I make a plea for balance:

I understand what you are saying. I just get tired of both sides that either want to attack or idolize Obama. There is no need to apologize to Obama just because there is some good in health care reform. One would hope there is some good in any health care reform. Anyway, apology wouldn’t be necessary if one didn’t react with emotional criticalness in the first place.
Let’s stand back and look at politics without becoming identified with one side or the other, without getting emotionally drawn in. Let’s have a discussion based on the known data.

After losing a posted comment, I added some further thoughts on a related issue that came to my mind:

That is odd. I posted a comment after your last comment, but it is no longer shown here. Where did it go. I don’t even remember all that I wrote. Part of what I said was that I understand that you are willing. I wasn’t criticizing you or people like you. I wasn’t criticizing your having posted this. I wasn’t even criticizing the act of pointing out the positve aspects of a particular policy promoted by Obama.

But that isn’t the reason I came back to this post. I was thinking about Obama last night. I was thinking about what is good or bad about him or else what is just neutral, the neutral part standing out to me.

In particular, I was comparing in my mind Obama and Bush. The reason I was doing this is because Obama has continued many of Bush’s policies, not all but many. Even Bush proposed some health care refom such as with his Medicare prescription drug program. Bush was a ‘compassionate conservative” which meant that he was as interested in social programs (health care, education, etc) as a Democrat like Obama. In the opposite direction, Obama is just as interested in promoting the power of the presidency as any neocon Republican, is just as interested in promoting the security state (with its undermining of civil liberties) as any war hawk Republican.

So, what makes Obama and Bush different? This is where it gets interesting.

In terms of personality and career, Obama and Bush couldn’t be more different. Obama was more of an outsider who worked his way up and Bush was born into wealth and power. Obama learned to play the game well becoming a professional politician and Bush was used to things being handed to him without having to work for it. Obama was intelligent and well-educated and Bush was just average.

It’s the professional politican aspect of Obama that stands out. Bush isn’t a professional politician. Bush is where he is because he has done what people have told him to do. He inherited political connections from his dad. Bush is a puppet. As a puppet, he is as good or bad as those pulling the strings. Obama isn’t a puppet. Instead, Obama acts according to pressure. Obama listens carefully to the public and to lobbyist groups and he guides his political career carefully.

What this means is this: Obama will only do good if pressure forces him to do good. So, the good that came about in health care reform came about to the exteent there was enough pressure to do so. He chose to push for health care reform because he was paying attention to polls and saw that it was in the air. Bush, however, isn’t pressured in the same way. Rather, Bush just does what his handlers/advisers tell him to do, and so its his handlers who respond to the pressures and filter them accordingly. A big difference is that Bush’s handlers/advisers happened to be evil geniuses who were heavily mired in the power structure of lobbyists and good ol’ boy politics. No amount of public pressure would likely have influenced Bush, but enough public pressure will influence Obama.

By the way, after posting that I went back to the article and noticed an added response by the author. Unsurprisingly, there were many haters of the view she expressed in her original article, mostly partisan attacks I presume. Here is her response to the “haters”:

“I wrote this piece to give the health insurance crisis in this country a common face.  My objectives in writing it were to hopefully get people to see themselves in me and my family, and I wanted people to know what Obama has done for people who have pre-existing conditions so they can get health insurance through PCIP.  My husband and I both knew that by doing this, we would invite hatred into our lives, and that indeed has happened.  To those of you who don’t want to see the commonalities between me and my family, let me pose it to you this way:  If your sister or mother lost her job and health insurance, and then turned up with breast cancer, what would you do?  Would you let her die?  Would you pick up the cancer tab yourself?, or would you tell her about PCIP?”

That is fair. She is making a good point. Such discussions aren’t just ideological battles or philosophical debates about abstract ideas. No, that isn’t the real issue, despite that being what politicians and pundits too often make it into. This is ultimately about real people. I might be dissatisfied with the results. Any rational person would have to admit that health care reform could have been better. It would be a cold-hearted person who would dismiss the people who have actually been helped.

Truth About Repubs is Funny

The following articles from The Onion are funny because they are so close to the truth. Republicans, however, might not find them very amusing.

 – – – 

Embarrassed Republicans Admit They’ve Been Thinking Of Eisenhower Whole Time They’ve Been Praising Reagan

WASHINGTON—At a press conference Monday, visibly embarrassed leaders of the Republican National Committee acknowledged that their nonstop, effusive praise of Ronald Reagan has been wholly unintentional, admitting they somehow managed to confuse him with Dwight D. Eisenhower for years.

Eisenhower

The GOP’s humiliating blunder was discovered last weekend by RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who realized his party had been extolling “completely the wrong guy” after he watched the History Channel special Eisenhower: An American Portrait.

“When I heard about Eisenhower’s presidential accomplishments—holding down the national debt, keeping inflation in check, and fighting for balanced budgets—it hit me that we’d clearly gotten their names mixed up at some point,” Priebus told reporters. “I couldn’t believe we’d been associating terms like ‘visionary,’ ‘principled,’ and ‘bold’ with President Reagan. That wasn’t him at all—that was Ike.”

“We deeply regret misattributing such a distinguished and patriotic legacy to Mr. Reagan,” Priebus added. “We really screwed up.”

Following his discovery, Priebus directed RNC staffers to inform top Republicans of the error and explain that it was Eisenhower, not Reagan, who carefully managed the nation’s prosperity, warned citizens of the military-industrial complex’s growing influence, and led the country with a mix of firm resolve and humble compassion.

Not Eisenhower

“Wait, you’re telling me Reagan advocated that trickle-down nonsense that was debunked years ago? That was Reagan?” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said upon hearing of the mistake. “I can’t believe I’ve been calling for a return to Reagan’s America. I feel like an asshole.”

According to sources, millions of younger Republicans have spent most of their lives viewing Reagan a stalwart of conservative principles, and many were “horrified” to learn that the former president illegally sold weapons to Iran, declared amnesty for 2.9 million illegal immigrants, costarred in a movie with a chimpanzee, funneled aid to Islamic militants in Afghanistan, and suffered from severe mental problems.

(click here to continue reading)

 – – – 

Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People

Romney claims he wishes he'd never aided helpless sick people.

BELMONT, MA—Though Mitt Romney is considered to be a frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, the national spotlight has forced him to repeatedly confront a major skeleton in his political closet: that as governor of Massachusetts he once tried to help poor, uninsured sick people.

Romney, who signed the state’s 2006 health care reform act, has said he “deeply regrets” giving people in poor physical and mental health the opportunity to seek medical attention, admitting that helping very sick people get better remains a dark cloud hovering over his political career, and his biggest obstacle to becoming president of the United States of America.

(click here to continue reading)

Health Reform & Public Option (polls & other info)

I was doing websearches on health reform. My main focus was on public option and polls, but I was checking out all the various issues. I keep coming across rightwingers who claim that Americans don’t want health reform and don’t want public option. I realize critics have their arguments and the data can be confusing. Still, after all my websearching, it still seems clear that support for public option has remained steady. 

Rightwingers have only two responses when confronted with the fact that most people want health care reform, that most people support systems such as public option or single payer.

First, they attack the polls. They’ll claim that some polls show the opposite, but this excuse falls apart when it’s shown that the polls against are exceptions. Then they’ll say the polling is biased which simply dismisses that polling experts are well versed in potential bias and are careful to prevent it.

Second, they attack the American public. They’ll claim people are stupid, uninformed or easily manipulated. However, this misses the point that a majority of doctors also support health care reform and public option. So, they’ll claim that personally doctors benefit and so are biased which translates into we can’t trust doctors to actually care about their own patients.

This type of rightwinger will go around and around.

Below are some relevant data, videos and links (mostly about public option). What I found interesting is the fact that, along with most doctors, most church-going Catholics support public option and so are in agreement with most Americans in general. Even more interesting is the fact that the church-going Catholics even support a national plan that includes funding for abortion.

 
 
 
 

A batch of state polls by the non-partisan Research 2000 shows that in multiple states represented by key Dem Senators who will have to decide whether to support reconciliation, the public option polls far better than the Senate bill does, often by lopsided margins.

Here’s a rundown, sent over by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which commissioned the polls:

* In Nevada, only 34% support the Senate bill, while 56% support the public option.

* In Illinois, only 37% support the Senate bill, while 68% support the public option.

* In Washington State, only 38% support the Senate bill, while 65% support the public option.

* In Missouri, only 33% support the Senate bill, while 57% support the public option.

* In Virginia, only 36% support the Senate bill, while 61% support the public option.

* In Iowa, only 35% support the Senate bill, while 62% support the public option.

*In Minnesota, only 35% support the Senate bill, while 62% support the public option.

* In Colorado, only 32% support the Senate bill, while 58% support the public option.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IRONY ALERT: Rush Limbaugh Touts Socialist Health Care

IRONY ALERT: Rush Limbaugh Touts Socialist Health Care (UPDATED)

Rush Limbaugh on the care he received in Hawaii after his heart attack scare (via the Denver Post):

Limbaugh couldn’t resist a few political comments in the short press conference at the hospital. He said he got the best health treatment in the world “right here in the United States of America.”

“I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the United States health system,” Limbaugh said.

He thinks he’s being a smart ass; that he’ll show Obama by holding a news conference to tout the care our current health care system provided him.

Unfortunately for him, or fortunately for his health, Hawaii has pretty much had what amounts to universal health care since 1974.

His treatment, under the Hawaiian system, and one he’d call socialist on any given day, was the best possible care he could have gotten despite being very similar to that dreaded “universal health care” he rails on and on about.

From Paul Abrams:

Yes, Rush. That’s the point! American medicine is superb–for those who can get it. And, in Hawaii, no one gets special treatment, because everyone can get it.

[snip]

Hawaii has had nearly-universal employer-mandated health insurance since 1974. Although its Pacific Island location makes the costs of everything–from gasoline to milk to ice cream to housing–the highest in the nation, health care premiums in Hawaii, for comprehensive care with small co-pays and deductibles, are nearly the lowest and their costs per medicare beneficiary are the lowest in the nation.Why? There are a variety of reasons, most traceable to universality. With everyone covered by primary care, emergency room visits tend to be for real emergencies, not the non-emergent care mainland ERs dispense for people without coverage. That reduces the costs of ERs and the costs of non-emergent medicine since patients can be handled less expensively and more effectively by their primary docs. Hospitals have not overbuilt, acquiring expensive machines to compete with their neighbors for patients. Insurance companies have instituted screening and other measures to improve wellness among their covered populations.

We can all be pleased that Rush appears to have survived his encounter with socialist medical care. He seems to be very happy himself, commenting on the results of a socialist angiogram that showed no disease in the arteries that feed his heart muscle.

Now, of course, Rush does not live in Hawaii and so his costs are not covered by the Hawaiian insurance system, but having that “socialist” system for more than 3 decades has not reduced the quality of the care he received. Who would have thunk it!

read more…

But, Rush doesn’t really have to worry about costs — like 95% of the rest of us (h/t BarbinMD):

Conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh Wednesday inked an eight-year contract for around $400 million …

In his efforts to show up the President, all the fat, sweaty bouncy one did was show what an ignoramus he truly is.

 
 

Poverty, Behavior & Society

Unlike some of my longer posts, I just want to share two related articles.

Premature birth tied to later behavioural problems

That isn’t too surprising, but it’s important as it relates to larger social problems.  Lack of quality health care increases premature births.

This relates to poverty as poor people have less access to quality health care, but also because other factors of poverty (such as malnutrition and environmental pollution) also contribute to behavioral problems (such as lower IQ).  And we wonder why poor people have more behavioral problems.  The sadly ironic part is that many of these issues of poverty are directly caused by the wealthy (such as environmental pollution and destruction of traditional healthy lifestyles).

However, just because you live in a wealthy country doesn’t mean you’re safe.  The US has extremely high rates of premature births compared with other wealthy industrialized nations.  Maybe this is because, in the US, there is a massive disparity between the rich and poor.  In the world in general, 10% of the population owns 85% of the wealth.

Rich people don’t have to experience the sufferings of poverty (lack of health care, malnutrition, pollution, etc) and they don’t have to worry about their kids growing up with developmental issues that cause low IQ and behavioral problems.  Then the rich people are shameless enough to blame the poor for all of their problems.

Smart Answers to Recidivism

Of course, poverty (and it’s attendant ills of low IQ and behavioral problems; not to mention lack of opportunities and desparation) unsurprisingly leads to conflict with the legal system.  Also, research shows that the legal system is biased against poor minorities.

So, after all the crap that gets thrown at the poor, can they try to make a better life for themselves after “paying” for their crime of being a minority?  No, because the entire system simply encourages them to commit crimes again.  They have a hard time finding housing, work, or any kind of assistance.   And the rich complain about how these poor minorities are nothing but troublemakers.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.  We collectively create all of these problems.  It doesn’t help anyone to scapegoat an entire sector of society.

Lie of the Year: ‘Death panels’

PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘Death panels’

Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

“Death panels.”

The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.

Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really?”

The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times, have chosen it as our inaugural “Lie of the Year.”

PolitiFact readers overwhelmingly supported the decision. Nearly 5,000 voted in a national poll to name the biggest lie, and 61 percent chose “death panels” from a field of eight finalists. (See the complete results.)