Archive for the ‘ Health Care Reform ’ Category

Health Care: Right or Responsibility?

Neither.

It’s an expense.

Health care is an economic commodity, just like food, clothing, shelter, cell-phones, cable television, and X-box 360s. And the health care system is simply an industry, or rather, an amalgamation of industries that provide preventative, emergency, maintenance, and palliative care; pharmaceuticals and supplies, and insurance coverage.

It might seem a bit of a stretch to compare a “need” such as health care to a video game system, which is clearly a “want.” But consider that most of us put those wants ahead of needs like health care, and instead of putting aside money from each paycheck to cover for unanticipated medical calamities, choose to invest in the latest Blackberry, which like an automobile loses a requisite amount of its value the minute you step out of the Verizon store. Putting money aside for health maintenance and emergencies is the furthest thing from our minds, which is why culturally we have come to rely so heavily on health insurance.

When the rainy day comes, as it is bound to do by the laws of nature, we are quick to curse the weatherman for his faulty forecast when we could have seen the clouds rolling in and carried the umbrella.

We don’t consider food, clothing and shelter “rights” that we are all entitled to. They are, in fact, expenses…needs that we have access to through the labor exchange. If a citizen is unable to exchange work for money, and cannot afford housing, clothing, and food, there are means—some government, read: taxpayer supported—to provide.  There is no need nationalize the food-manufacture and delivery system (although we do subscribe to an interesting system of government implemented agricultural price controls, but that is a topic for another blog). No one in Congress is calling for the nationalization of clothing manufacture, sales, and distribution so that the poor can afford what the middle-class and wealthy can.

OK, I admit that I am stretching the analogy and comparing apples to oranges. The fact is Americans need access to affordable quality health care. They can live with the Wrangler jeans donated by a charity or purchased for $5 at the Goodwill, if need be.  They cannot live well without preventative care and without a physician’s care for maladies. That doesn’t mean that we are entitled to that care. It doesn’t make it a right.

 That doesn’t mean that we can have the Xbox and insist that someone else pay for our child’s immunizations.  It means that we have to live within our means and we have to view medical bills as costs of living.

After talking with my students last night after they read two articles on the subject, I’ve  worked out a therapy plan for the crippled system.

Helen Wheales’ Health Care Plan

Reform the current entitlement programs: All sides in this argument agree that the health-care system in the globe’s most free and wealthy society is not working as it could and should. I know that some on the Conservative side of the aisle and my Libertarian pals will cringe at the suggestion, but the government should start reforming Medicare and Medicaid by expanding them to cover those 45 million people that they claim are currently underserved. This, of course, is in opposition to HR 3299, the Health Reform Act that aims to cure the nation’s malaise by mandating coverage to all citizens, currently covered or not, and creating a utopian, public-sector program.

Ideally, I’d like to see the big-Ms  privatized, which would iron out a lot of wrinkles, specifically where doctor access is concerned. Physicians are increasingly refusing Medicare/Medicaid patients not only because payments are slow in coming, but because they are low. This can’t get any better under the Obamacare consolidated insurance system—a single-payer system—in which salaried physicians are forced to accept a government-agency-determined pre-payment for delivery of care.

–Let market forces work their magic

It’s Econ 101- supply and demand.  Demand is a want or need backed by the almighty dollar. Supply is the ability to keep up with demand. The market equalizes when supply and demand intersect. In the case of health care, this creates a consumer-driven market. Prices should fall for things like a standard physicians visit when physicians are allowed to compete for patients by lowering rates, packaging services, and offering monthly fees and packages.

Insurance prices would be considerably more competitive with carriers competing for consumer dollars in a way not unlike Allstate, State Farm, Geiko, Safe Auto, and Progressive insurance companies compete to cover our autos.

This situation currently does not exist BECAUSE of government intervention in commerce, which prevents interstate competition in the health-care insurance industry. Eliminating this roadblock would be akin to tearing down the Berlin Wall, freeing us to shop around, to use the Internet, to create a la carte plans not unlike what the aforementioned car insurance companies offer. Consumer choice would drive the market.

–Shift away from discussions of Rights and toward discussion of Responsibilities

All of us need to take charge of, take responsibility for, our own health care. That might mean we invest in health care savings plans, and it might mean changing our diets, getting the suggested exercise.reventative care and healthy lifestyles as a matter of choice could (and should) affect insurance premiums, just as our driving record affects our auto insurance rates.
–Tort Reform

Nothing would lighten the costs of most doctors more than an overhaul of the tenuous relationship between the legal and medical professions. Tort reform lifts the heavy load of the excessive malpractice-insurance and liability premiums, which are passed on to the health-care consumer. Instituting reasonable protections, such as an early settlement system for claims against doctors, a “safe harbor” system which protects them from non-evidence based lawsuits, and special “health courts” where judges specializing in medicine would afford speedier trials, lowering overhead and creating a more open medical malpractice system that could even weed out those physicians who shouldn’t be practicing in a manner not unlike that which strips members of the legal community of their licenses when they are deemed unfit to serve.

 It is clear–major widespread changes are needed, but the current proposal making the rounds on Capitol Hill will not solve the problem and create affordable care that maintains, if not exceeds, the current quality of care we expect in the world’s most developed nation. Modest improvements won’t do the job, but neither will nationalizing the system.

Helen’s Halloween Costume

costume

 

Here’s a photo of me in costume: It was the scariest thing I could think of–Terrifying, isn’t it?

The Sins of Silence

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
Abraham Lincoln
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You can say a lot of things about President Obama, but you can never accuse him of slacking in his momentum to get things done. It helps that he has an army of supporters in Congress–there is strength in numbers.

This makes me nervous. The current legislative branch has a lot more power than I am comfortable with. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have been privy to enough government corruption in times when the ideologies in Washington DC, were much more balanced.

If Obama’s Cap and Trade steamrolls through Congress, we will see higher energy costs, which will send what remains of our suffering manufacturing sector overseas. I keep hearing that these jobs will be replaced with green jobs, jobs which will produce the cheaper energy. Just because we use the solar energy doesn’t mean that it will be cheaper for solar-panel producers to make them stateside. They will suffer from higher costs, too…and will likely move their operations to cost-effective climes.

If the Kennedy- Dodd Health-Care Reform bill passes (and the president wants some major progress by August), we will eventually see an entire private industry eliminated and replaced by the low efficiency of the government sector. I know, I know, according to the plan, we can keep our current insurance and doctors. Sounds great on paper. But I doubt any employers are going to continue administrating health care plans when the government will do it. This will spell the end of the health insurance industry, and put some more folks out of work. I don’t need to make all of the arguments that already exist about quality of care, waiting periods, etc….

I do need to get to my point: those of us who might agree that we could do more to produce and rely upon alternative energy and those of us who might agree that we could and should make some changes to the current health care situation, BUT disagree that that the government-administrator route is the answer, need to do something, lest we commit the very sin of silence Lincoln referred to in the quote above. But what?

ONE: Read the legislation posed by Kennedy-Dodd and Sen John McCain’s counter “offer.” You can access all legislation at Govtrack (Click here to reach the search page).
If the bills are too much to grasp–and they are difficult reading–read the synopses that summarize the material. These are located in the navigation box on each bill’s main page.

This goes for all of you–those who side with and against me. I have little tolerance for those who oppose me who tell me things like “the majority of Americans do not have health care!!!!!!” and “people are dying because they don’t have access to health care!” Yet, they don’t even know what is in the bill, nor do they have ACCURATE statistics. Those who are on board with Kennedy and Dodd will be surprised to see just who this health reform helps (hint: People making more than $33,000 per year…not the poor who will continue to be covered by Medicaid and Medicare that will undergo reforms at a later date).

Thomas Jefferson said, “Knowledge is the currency of democracy.” We have evolved into a people that believes government knows best, and a people who would rather learn every detail about Michael Jackson’s rise and fall than the text of a bill before Congress that affects our livelihood and puts our country in increasingly precarious financial straits.

TWO: Pick up the phone and call Senators and tell them that you agree or disagree with Cap and Trade and health Care reform. Tell them if you are happy having the government’s checkbook trillions of dollars in the red.

Court the Moderate senators. I am spending the next couple of days on the phone doing just this. Below is the list of Moderate senators who could go either way on Cap and Trade and Health-Care Reform. I plan to tell them I disagree with both plans, and the out-of-control spending, and I plan to urge them to vote against both bills, and go back to the drawing board.

Moderate DEMOCRATS
Evan Bayh, Indiana(202) 224-5623
Kent Conrad, North Dakota(202) 224-2043
Mary Landrieu, Louisiana(202) 224-5824
Joe Lieberman, Connecticut (Independent, but caucuses as a Democrat)(202) 224-4041
Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas(202) 224-4843
Ben Nelson, Nebraska(202) 224-6551
Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania(202) 224-4254
Mark Warner, Virginia(202) 224-2023
Jim Webb, Virginia(202) 224-4024

Moderate REPUBLICANS
Susan Collins, Maine(202) 224-2523
Olympia Snowe, Maine(202) 224-5344
George Voinovich, Ohio(202) 224-3353

The Health Care “Crisis”

Percentage of Americans without Health Insurance 15.5% (Centers for Disease Control)
Percentage of Americans without a cell phone: 18% (TECHnews)
Percentage of Americans without a computer in the home: 20% (Nielsen)
Percentage of Americans without Internet access: 43% (Nielsen)

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Universal Health Care advocates would have us believe that most Americans do not have health insurance–I read such a statement in a Toledo politics blog just the other day.

In fact, the majority of Americans DO have health insurance. As the stats above illustrate, there are more people in this country who do not have a cell phone. There are more people in this country who do not have a computer. There are more people in this country who do not have home-based Internet access.

This all means that Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Christopher Dodd (and President Barack Obama) have been hard at work realigning the universe in order to ensure coverage for an additional 42.6 million people. Actually, what they have been working toward is a world in which all Americans get the SAME coverage, no matter how restricted that coverage may be.

If those driving the UHC bandwagon really wanted to ensure that the 15.5 % of Americans,which includes 10 million children, had adequate access to the best health care and treatments in the world, they would craft a bill that created a government-sponsored health insurance plan only for those who are currently un- or under-insured. This would address the crisis of coverage without putting American medicine under the government’s growing umbrella of responsibilities. Sure, the fiscally responsible and anti-entitlement folks would balk at this misuse of tax dollars, but this beats the alternative.

If 15.5 % of the lights on my decorated Christmas tree go out, I don’t strip the whole thing bare and start over– I work, by trial and error, to locate the bulb or bulbs that are bad and replace them. This keeps the strings of lights, the icicles, and the ornaments intact. That seems like the more practical and least expensive action.

But our current elected leaders obviously aren’t thinking about practicality and thrift; they want control of our entire health care system, which has been the pie in the sky for the liberal crowd for some time now.