Lynn Abbott: Health care reform and the public option

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— We think of ourselves as a civilized society. We pay taxes that, in turn, pay to ensure all our citizens can - no matter what their income - drink uncontaminated water, educate their children, drive on a network of safe roads, and be protected by police and fire departments when necessary. Why is health care different? Why do we not accept the responsibility of ensuring that all citizens have basic affordable health care?

President Barack Obama, along with millions of Americans, believes that we must. His health care reform plan will guarantee choice, emphasize preventive care, reduce costs and cover pre-existing conditions. None of this will help, however, if it is not affordable for all citizens. This is where the "public option" comes in. The public option is a government-sponsored plan that will offer health care coverage for all at affordable rates because it won't have to provide generous profits for an insurance company.

And this is where all the hand-wringing begins. Critics of the public option worry that health insurance companies will not be able to compete with a government-sponsored plan. That's because until now, health insurance companies have been in business to satisfy their shareholders rather than to provide affordable health care to their policyholders. That is a standard business model but it is not a good prescription for covering all Americans with basic affordable health care.

As Jonathan Alter wrote in "Newsweek," insurers would be forced "to redraw their business models and accept lower profits." If the insurers still want to be in the picture, they will have to make changes. Everyone involved in this discussion must remember that the goal is to provide affordable health care for all Americans.

Other critics, most notably U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and columnist George Will, are convinced that government-sponsored health care will not be the high level of care that Americans deserve. They worry about lack of choice of doctors, long lines of people waiting for surgery, etc. I know Canadians and Britons who are quite happy with their plans. But in any case, if government-sponsored health care is as bad as the critics say it is, it will die a natural death. People and companies who like the health care plans they have can continue to use them; they need not give them up. But for those who, like my daughter and son-in-law, are paying more than $660 a month for a "catastrophic" health plan for a family of five with a $4,000 deductible, the public option sounds really good. They currently never meet their deductible, so on top of that monthly insurance premium, they struggle to pay for each doctor visit, strep throat test, ankle X-ray and every other medical need that an active family with young children incurs. By providing basic coverage at a reasonable price, a public plan would eliminate the need for such catastrophic policies.

Other critics say that it would be unacceptable to have a government bureaucrat interfering in decisions that should be made between doctor and patient. This is a non-starter. Health insurance companies and HMOs already are interfering in such decisions and sometimes even dictating procedures to doctors. Many of their employees are hired specifically to find ways to deny claims.

In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last Sunday, 76 percent of respondents voiced support for a public option. 76 percent! That is a lot of Americans. And yet, Sen. Graham announced unequivocally on ABC on Sunday that any health care plan that includes a public option would not pass the Senate. Why would our Senators ignore the wishes of 76 percent? Could it have anything to do with the huge contributions they have received from health insurance companies? According to an article in Consumer Watchdog last March, health insurers and drug manufacturers contributed $5.5 million to the top 10 Senate and House recipients since 2005 and $24,220,976 to the current members of Congress in the past two election cycles. Is it any wonder the wishes of 76 percent are being ignored?*

The public option is just that - an option. In order to fight effectively for it, our legislators need to be able to show that their constituents strongly favor this option. Please contact Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., today.

Lynn Abbott is a Steamboat Springs native and longtime resident. She has been a leading member of the Routt County Democratic Party for several years.

*March 09, 2009, ConsumerWatchdog.org: Health Insurers & Drug Companies Contributed $5.5 Million to Top 10 Senate and House Recipients Since 2005 Contact: Jerry Flanagan, 310-889-4912; or Carmen Balber, 202-629-3043.

Comments

Martha D Young 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, Lynn, for your editorial. "Health insurance companies and HMOs already are interfering in such decisions and sometimes even dictating procedures to doctors. Many of their employees are hired specifically to find ways to deny claims." As a private practice health care provider, this has frequently been my experience. Does anyone know the salaries paid to the CEOs of the companies that are supposedly keeping our medical costs reasonable? They are astronomical.

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 5 months ago

In the same NBC/WSJ poll, only 33 percent of respondents said they thought the president's health care plan, to the extent they knew of it, was a "good idea;" 32 percent said it was a bad idea.

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seeuski 5 years, 5 months ago

Don't worry, Obama will fire those CEO's soon enough. Then we will have Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid taking care of our needs. I guess with pennies from heaven. So Miss Abbott, longtime member of the Routt county Democratic party, has no dog in this fight I guess. Maybe that is why she is quoting a flawed poll. Of those polled the number that voted for Obama was 48%, McCain 25% and the rest other. What would you expect the numbers to look like? She also says she has friends who like their Canadian and UK socialist health care. Well there are others who don't and they come here to get the care that saves their lives because there are no options to even personally pay for needed treatments in their countries. Where will they go when we become the same as what they have? Would someone please show me any Government run program that is a success. Medicaid is in trouble, the train systems like the Metro line in Washington is in trouble, USPS is a mess etc. etc. Of the 45 million uninsured Obamas plan covers a third and will cost us between 1 and 2 trillion$$. Miss Abbott says all Americans should have health care but she is not saying anything about the 12+million who are here illegally and will get a Government insurance card. This is for sure a complex issue and we all would like to see things change for the better, I also pay big money for insurance, but to rely on politicians who have destroyed the economy through their abuses of Fannie/Freddie and their connections to Wall Street is not something I feel comforted by. I'll bet a poll taken that represents a true cross section of Americans would indicate a similar fear of Government run health care.

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 5 months ago

Medicare is the example used by proponents of an efficient "government Single Pay" option. Medicare is dramatically less efficient than private insurance plans. You may eliminate evil CEO compensation and shareholder profits, but you will pay more for it. As the numbers indicate (click link below), between 2001-2005, Medicare's administrative costs on a per-person basis were 24.8% higher, on average, than private insurers.

The issue isn't competing against the U.S. Federal Government in fair competition. The issue is competing against the U.S. Government that sets the rules and can subsidize cost with tax dollars. If like Medicare, the Gov't Single Pay plan is 24% more expensive, they can increase our taxes to subside the difference. Please provide some factual evidence of a similar plan that has worked.

A focus on preventive care and elimination of pre-existing conditions is something we all can agree on and work towards. A Federal Gov't plan will not reduce cost or guarantee choice. I am not uncivilized or somehow aligned with corporate profits and shareholder greed because I want a solution that doesn't include a Government option.

http://timerealclearpolitics.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/admincosts1.gif

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BoatNative 5 years, 5 months ago

Why is a public option so bad? People hear "government-run" and they freak out like Sean Hannity does when he hears the word socialism. Health care is a right but America is the only industrialized nation that does not observe that fact. Beyond that belief, the public-option has many other external effects. For all of us who have health insurance now, we will see our costs go down and quality improve because the insurance companies will be competing with another provider. That is the beauty of CAPiTALISM. Don't those who are against this legislation understand that the millions of uninsured in the country are adding exponentially to the premiums of all of those who are insured? Without reform, our economy will continue to cripple, private insurance companies will exploit customers for profits, and most importantly, people will continue to die from common ailments such as the flu because they simply cannot afford to go into the hospital. People are dying because of the failures of our system, and we need to fix that now with a public option.

Lynn, great article. We all appreciate your hard work and great insight.

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seeuski 5 years, 5 months ago

Yea he's got nothing to add but chump change.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

O says that the gocernment option would compete right along with the private sector, add that to the list of lies that has been created by opening his mouth. He lies with such eloquence that it is taken as fact. Watching the cap and trade fiasco has shown me, just how low we can go to pass leglislation. In Canada today the average wait to go from a primary doctor to a specialist is 17 weeks. Does anyone know how to spell revolution? Will O let the public option fail if it can't compete? Lynn, your perceived hatred of the private sector is scary, and to think that our country is headed down that path is beyond belief. Will there no longer be a risk associated with getting out of bed in the morning? How will we get any self esteem if you are going to slay all the dragons for us?

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 5 months ago

If Canada's health care plan is so bad then why don't they junk it and switch to our system? Oh yeah, it is very popular there.

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 5 months ago

Scott. I don't think it's accurate to say that Canadians are happier with their system than American's are.

"A May 2008 survey (http://johnrlott.tripod.com/Canadasurvey.pdf )asked Canadians the same questions that appeared in the Kaiser/ABC News/USA Today survey two years earlier. In most comparisons, Canadians were more satisfied than uninsured Americans, but just barely, and they were nowhere as satisfied as insured Americans. Canadians are most similar to insured Americans in terms of their happiness with their ability "to get non-emergency care without having to wait." While 77 percent of insured Americans and 41 percent of uninsured Americans were satisfied with timely non-emergency care, the figure for all Canadians was 60 percent.

Among the biggest differences between percentage of Canadians and insured Americans who were satisfied were the "ability to see top-quality medical specialists, if you ever need one" (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1395928 )(26 percentage points difference) and the "ability to get emergency care" (24 percentage points difference)"

Services are rationed and the cost is higher the only way it can compete is to be subsidized with taxes

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 5 months ago

Boat, The word Gov't plan doesn't frighten me. What scares me is the fact that Gov't run Medicare cost 25% more per person covered than private plan's and surveys show that quality of service and satisfaction is lower with Gov't run plans. This is the upside? Higher cost with lower benefits? Please show me that I am wrong because I am anxious about that our representatives are proposing to do.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

The private sector creates all the wealth that we have, let's not knock it, as the problem. Did the government provide us with affordable car or was it Henry Ford? I can buy a gallon of gas from halfway around the world for less than a cup of coffee. If these corporations are raping us why don't you buy their stock and share in the fun? Who develops the new technology in medicine, Nancy Pelosi? The givers can't give enough and the takers can't take enough.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

Suppose in ten years the private sector has developed new meadicine and technology. Will they be required to give that to the poblic option? If not the public option will probably be defunct. The public option will start out on the shoulders of the private sector with no penalty for decades of research. For the public sector it will be very hard to compete without government intervention.

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Troutguy 5 years, 5 months ago

I wish I had a solution to our health care problems, but I don't. I wouldn't even know where to begin. I do know the system is broken, and in need of fixing. I had heart troubles a few years ago, and so began my interaction with my insurance company. There was only one surgeon in the state who does the surgery that I needed. He worked at both Denver Health and University of Denver Medical Ceneter. My insurance company would only cover the surgery at University, not at D.H. But since University was in the process of moving/renovations at the time, I was told I would have to wait 7 months minimum before surgery. D.H. could do the surgery in 5 weeks, but were out of network. Same surgeon, different place. When I told my insurance rep I would probably be dead by then, she said that unless I wanted to pay out of network costs, there was nothing they could do. Thankfully, the surgeon had a wonderful assistant who knew someone at the insurace co. that got it o.k.'d in network. Then I had to fight insurance co. over payments to hospital because of the in/out of network issues. Nothing like getting a letter from a collection agency saying I owe $93,000. While I am ever grateful for having insurance, It ain't all it's cracked up to be with the current system. I sure wish the naysayers to healthcare reform would put out some ideas and help with the solution instead of blocking any meaningful changes.

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trump_suit 5 years, 5 months ago

As a two time cancer survivor I can personally vouch for the fact that our Health Insurance system is broken. In my opinion, two basic changes are needed immediately..

1 There are no more "Groups". If you have a social security number you are in the group. No more treating small business differently than large business, or individual policies costing more for less coverage.

2. Pre-existing conditions no longer exist. If you have a current policy you get treated.

Beyond those two basic conditions, I remain unconvinced that the government can run a insurance program that covers your healthcare the way that private insurance can. The problems of the un-insured stem largely from the the problems I mention above.

Spiraling healthcare costs are a separate issue that is really not addressed in these plans. How do we deal with the millions of people showing up at emergency rooms with no insurance and no money. Do we turn away the man with a broken ankle or the poor woman with a scalp wound?

There really needs to be a way to provide for those basic needs to the poor. Right now we are paying those costs thru insurance premiums and the insurance companies are fighting tooth and nail to try and control them. The hospitals and doctors react by raising the costs for all of us. Whether you like it or not, if you are paying for health insurance or healthcare you are paying for those uninsured people too.

Having a baseline insurance program offered by the government is probably a better option than the current system in my opinion. At least that way we can make a better effort at controlling costs and placement instead of having our emergency rooms stuffed to the gill. When the uninsured have small problems escalate into major medical emergencies that cost ten times as much as treating the original illness or injury, it costs us all. We are treating most of these people at some point in their lives anyway, the only real question is how the bill gets paid.

A basic health program that would cover your basic needs should be a part of the American dream.

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 5 months ago

Thomas Dolan had a great quote in Barron's last week " Our problem isn't that we don't get what we pay for; our problem is that we must pay for what we get, such as intensive efforts to prolong life in the face of chronic illness"

"A public insurance company, modeled after the Post Office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, GM or Medicare would be no less a sinkhole of taxation. Few would oppose it if they thought it would compete fairly, using only actuarially justified premium revenues to provide benefits - but no experience justifies such a hope."

The CBO estimated that the proposed plan would cost $1 Trillion and reach only 1/3 of the target population. That's roughly $3,500 per American or roughly $10,000 per taxpaying household. Where is the savings?

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popcan 5 years, 5 months ago

Ms. Abbot: I am a baby boomer. I grew up and my family always carried health insurance. This was back in the 60s, 70's and early 80s. Why now do you recommend that the government is the fix for health care? Did it ever occur to you first, that people use to pay their bills to the medical industry? We did not have every illegal alien and others abusing the system like we have today. People use to be proud and want to pay their bills and see to it bills were paid. I think health care can be improved easily with a private business model in mind and we get back to capitalism once again. Shareholders and other investors will continue to make money. Didn't they provide the cash in the first place? The Health Industry cannot take the abuses that you democrats keep pushing : handouts and more handouts. Our medical profession is saturated with deadbeat people that won't pay their bills. In many families, the medical bills come last to pay. Our country works on debits and credits and somebody must pay, always to stay afloat. Do you and your party know what making a profit is for the middle class person? Do you have your own personal bank account to save money in? You can't save money to buy things if you're being taxed to death. How can I pay for such a thing, when I am already being taxed for everything else? If my parents made it work easily with Blue Cross Blue Shield and some of the others, why can't we do it today? Because you want a hand-out and more taxes created? If healthcare is a right, then so is everything else such as car insurance, car, house, etc. Let's get back to doing it right. Let's get back to the basics from the earlier days. Let's have some principals and values and quit abusing the system. By the way, when I was a kid, I wasn't judged for previous health conditions, how I ate, nothing mattered : break bones, I was fixed no exceptions under the Blue Cross plan : None of this health savings crap, or eating right. The American people were happy. Something else to mention, government health care : Would we be treated similar to how the IRS treats us. They would be the similar, government agencies. How would you ever get treated for anything, you need to qualify first with the correct forms filled out. Don't make a mistake, you will pay a penalty.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

The primary function of government in this proposal is to make sure that private enterprise does not have any windfalls. This will take the incentive out of the market, and it might as well be socialized medical care. They will bargain with the drug companies, until it will not be worth investing in research. No incentives, let the government do it. Why would a doctor work hard when he has to drive an electric car and not the Porsche that he had dreamed about. Popcan, you identified the problem, it is no longer humiliating to let others pull your weight. We have intermediaries to represent the free loaders and that is how they get reelected.

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dave mcirvin 5 years, 5 months ago

Lynn, that was so well stated. From a retired physician point of view, Lynn has essentially nailed the salient points. Indeed, the general public is quite satisfied with their healthcare delivery in Canada, Switzerland and many other countries that have universal healthcare.

Initially, there will be a myriad of problems once a new program has been adopted but the system that we now have isn't sustainable nor is the health care delivery to individuals even close to what it could and should be. Less corporation direct involvement into the delivery, profits and decision making is sure to make significant improvements for the general public and overall costs. Making fewer and more modest (less than maximum) profits can surely be tolerated to deliver better health maintenance.

Lastly, a week ago I lost a vibrant, close friend to cholangiocarcinoma (biliary cancer of the liver). She had private health insurance coverage and our system provided her with no special favors. BTW, I have been a longstanding, registered independent (i.e. nonsocialist) but have long been a progressively minded voter especially when it comes to the delivery of healthcare. This fine country is wealthy enough to find a way to fund healthcare for its citizens.

Aside from the emotional strife, we are all only a single, tragic diagnosis away from a disease induced, family bankrupcy.

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seeuski 5 years, 5 months ago

Storm, How old was your friend who died and did she receive care or not? Doing no favors is not something I have ever experienced and I have plenty of experience, both personal and through others, with our existing privately run health care system. I have never seen services delayed or not rendered but to the contrary, medical practitioners have always been super in trying their best to help their patients. If you go to the check in at YVMC you will see in English and Spanish that no one is denied health care because of lack of insurance. Those of us with insurance pay higher premiums for that reason. Why would the Government do better by collecting huge taxes from us and then administering our health care? How is Medicare looking these days? And as far as your Independent status, I would bet you voted for Obama. Just a hunch.

P.S. I also find it ironic that after Obama lambasted McCain's plan for taxing the $5,000 health care tax credit as income, he know is going to do just that and on all of us but Union members. More political payback for the votes he gets from the Unions. Yea, we need some other kind of change for sure.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 5 months ago

Fred - Please give us more information on the affordable car you mentioned.

seeuski - Is your keyboard missing some buttons or are you having troubles with proper sentences again? Your posts are painful to intrepret.

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seeuski 5 years, 5 months ago

Then don't read em. If you want to get down and personal let me know.

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beverly lemons 5 years, 5 months ago

I can afford, and will gladly pay taxes for universal health care. What we can not afford, is funding pointless wars-would you rather buy a coffin for a soldier or immunizations and dental care for her children? As to the private sector being so progressive and cost effective, I guess that's why we have bail outs.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 5 months ago

seeuski - Give up on these posts. Your last P.S. makes no sense due to your lack of simple English. You bash the Dems on every post, yet you are the one who can't write a sentence.

BTW, healthcare didn't go in the toilet with the election. It's been in shambles for years. I wonder why...........An unregulated private sector might be an answer.

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seeuski 5 years, 5 months ago

Duke, I will write in gibberish if I choose to, so the question remains do we need to get down and personal? I am sure the meaning of that post comes through to everyone, even you. The health care system is not in shambles as you suggest, the Medicare system is, the VA system is, and you want the Government to run a multibillion dollar a year enterprise when they have failed at every one they have done before? I don't. Let the Government tax those like baddove and yourself who want to give away your money to provide a separate policy for the illegals and others who are now, and have been, the big reason for rising health care costs. Once that burden is lifted from those of us who pay for insurance along with the Hospitals the costs will fall back in line with normalcy.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 5 months ago

Are you stating that you won't pay the taxes? baddove and myself would not be the only ones to take a tax hit. And, you bring up a great point.................A couple grand more per year in taxes, or $400-$800 per month in worthless insurance premiums. You do the math.

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seeuski 5 years, 5 months ago

I don't get the "worthless" point, I pay over $500 a month and my insurance has been valuable to me the last few years. And it would go down if my plan was enacted. I have needed several expensive surgeries that would not have been rationed to me in Canada or the UK. And yes, I do mean there should be a volunteer fund, or tax, to be paid by people like you, the pro Government option believers, to cover the illegals who are burdening our systems. What is wrong with that? You not down to do your part?

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Duke_bets 5 years, 5 months ago

seeuski - I'm down with my part. Your reasoning ranks right up there with your English.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

Dukey, I see that you have reared your head again with ridicule, criticism, and the need to get the last word in. I am still waiting for you to present an idea of your own,which I doubt that you have. Until the you are still on my lightweight roster.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 5 months ago

Fred - seeuski and yourself had the last words until now. I asked about the affordable car you mentioned. If you truly believe the auto industry produces anything affordable, please let the consumers know where to find that product. Also, tell me how the billions of bail out $$$$ were spent. Did that cash go to the auto industries and flailing insurance companies that you support?

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Matthew Stoddard 5 years, 5 months ago

Duke- I got a 2008 Hyundai Elantra for $12,000 a week ago. I ended up paying $.95 per mile already on the car. There are great deals going on right now. Oh wait...Hyundai is a South Korean company. Got 38mpg coming back from Boulder in it. Well, better than buying GM right now.

As for health care, Conservatives want to give you choice, no matter the cost to you. Liberals want to give you health care, no matter the cost to everyone. I believe a Republican compared it last week that spending doesn't amount to better (and I paraphrase) "A Ferrari sure looks nice compared to that Ford you're driving or that 6 bedroom mansion looks better than that 3 bedroom apartment until you look at the price you're paying."

Unfortunately, not everyone needs a car or to own a home. Those are luxuries; not necessities. We all need health care. In fact, the Conservative letter sent to the White House just last week emphasized that it was about doctors and hospitals earning less...moreso than about sick people in general. It was about them accepting lower payments. Oh my heck! Lower payments? Isn't that what we all want in our health care? I know I do!

Look at the military- I didn't have to pay a cent while in. They seemed to do a pretty good job, in my opinion. Or, maybe it's time for health care to actually cost more, if that's the argument. Like raising taxes on smoking (a large contributor to lung cancer...which you have to go to the doctor for), that has helped many people give up cigs, which then could mean less lung cancer treatments needed, which then means doctors could concentrate on other health needs.

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ybul 5 years, 5 months ago

When did health care become a "right" as someone stated above?

Someone stated that a lack of regulation is the reason health care is such a mess. I would counter that health care is a mess because of how it is structured today. Runny nose policies, where the individual runs to the doctor every time they have a runny nose.

How is personal responsibility injected into any system? So that people consider what they eat and do. Without personal responsibility the system will be a major burden on society.

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Matthew Stoddard 5 years, 5 months ago

ybul- Isn't the Government's job to protect it's citizens or is that only against human enemies?

So getting a doctor's care should only come if you're wealthy enough? Maybe you should remember that the next time someone you know, thru no fault of their own, comes down with breast cancer or leukemia. Hopefully, they aren't out of a job during these economic times since it's not their "right." Sometimes, pennies in a jar at the convenience store won't pay for their treatment.

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ybul 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe the government could put us all in bubbles so we do not get hurt.

As I have stated before, that the government currently does not protect its citizens via the EPA. The EPA allows polluters to pollute to the maximum extent of the law. As opposed to setting up acceptable levels of pollution, there should be an impact fee on that pollution.

In the case of lukemia, it is associated with radiation and carcinogens. Parkinson's with pesticide exposure. Alzheimer's with exposure to aluminum. Asthma with diesel emissions.

The government is not protecting us today, why do you believe a health care system built to treat symptoms will provide any different results. Without working towards better nutrition and a cleaner environment we will not solve the problems of the health care system.

I have a neighbor who has cancer and can't afford treatment in the US and has gone to a natural center in Mexico and is doing well. I have no problem with helping out those in need and do so readily.

The problem is that the government is about the least efficient organization there is. As the government currently only filters through 25% of the money for a given program today, why do we think that health care would be any different?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

When O opens his mouth, his disdain for the private sector is evident for all to see. He is attacking private business on every front, and looking to assert control over these gouging rascals. Will our economy ever recover, considering what seems like a death sentence? It is sad to see bloggers here that buy into killing the golden goose. Health care is a charitable theme and easy to garner support for this attack, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. Cap and trade is next to let government wrench and consolidate power leading to this brave new world. I mistakenly thought that we had won the cold war. Have a nice day comrades, and down with those capitalist pigs. Gun control will happen just as soon as the opportunity is right.

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aichempty 5 years, 5 months ago

Someone was recently talking about this on TV and mentioned the fact that universal health care coverage would immediately result in rationing of care because putting 30,000,000 people into the system would be more than the existing facilities and personnel could handle. It's like that scene in "Bruce Almighty" where everyone won the lottery and they all got something like $17.00. Nobody was satisfied.

I talked to a guy last weekend who had been sued so many times as an OB-GYN that he had taken a job at an Army clinic as a civil servant. I noticed that he wasn't wearing a wedding ring and wondered if he lost it on the job . . .

The military deals with mostly young, healthy people. That's why they do a better job of treating people for less expense. They don't spend $2,000,000 on a premature baby that won't live past the age of two. They don't see those kinds of patients.

I have always felt that women would make better physicians than men, and there are plenty of people around willing to work for less money who would be just as good as any rich kid who goes to med school on family money. The American Medical Association and the medical schools it controls are the problem. Loosen up the school doors with government funds to allow more students to be trained at lower cost and within a generation or two, health care costs will plummet as doctors expect less in compensation and have less to be taken away from them by lawsuits.

There are plenty of people around who will work in health care because they care about others. An MD degree should not guarantee wealth any more than a law degree. Let's have more care-givers and less money at stake, and we can probably treat everybody for the same amount it costs to treat only the ones with insurance.

Most of the physicians in the former Soviet Union were women, were paid less than our own physicians in this country, and their system seemed to work fine. It is possible to have good care, for less, and cover everyone if one simple factor is controlled -- costs for labor and malpractice insurance.

Airlines have cut pay for pilots, and the planes still fly every day. Start with a new crew of young people who don't expect to get rich, but do expect to be adequately rewarded, and the problem will solve itself as the older ones die out.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 5 months ago

Fred - Do you believe we won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? All of the bailout cash went to the private sector, which will be the main cause of increased taxes. The bailout cash was spent to keep the market afloat. Gun control will only be an issue for those who have records and can't pass a background check. All of the above was and is necessary other than the wars. They are the results of the past administration.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

Duke, what are you going to call the money that California is going to get to bail out your ideal experiment? The left will take all guns if they get the chance,we will look like the Iranians throwing rocks in protest. Governments that want your weapons are about to take your freedom and they do not believe in a fair fight. I'm not fond of any administration, our government is out of control now, we need to start retaking back our freedom. See you at the next tea party, I'm buying.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 5 months ago

Fred - That's a republican point of view............Gun control turns to elk hunting with rocks??????? I'm thinking gun control might have more to do with background checks and a waiting period. Who would be opposed to that, other than those that don't qualify.

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trump_suit 5 years, 5 months ago

more Republican scare tactics Fred. Obama has frequently said that he will not support gun control. Hillary would have been a different story but she is not in charge now is she?

Keep in mind that your current President actually expanded the right of concealed carry in National Parks. I am sure you will say "well the Republican Senate added that provision" Bottom line is he signed it didn't he.

Just what kind of weapons do you think you need? I currently own two pistols, three rifles and three shotguns. Gun control is usually defined as "hitting what you aimed at", and keeping the children away from them. The Republican viewpoint would be much stronger if they would quit trying to scare us with all the bad guys and bad things that will happen if the Democrats are in control.

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aichempty 5 years, 5 months ago

I learned last week that the stock market is recovering. People in pursuit of profits are making them.

One of the strongest investments is going to be in - guess what - MORTGAGES! The banks are being forced to sell off assets to raise cash and repay the government. So, what do banks have to sell? Mortgages.

The truth is that most people are paying their mortgages. The perception is so bad, however, that the banks are being forced to sell off assets at 63 cents on the dollar (that's against fair-market equity in the properties). As a result, investing in those undervalued mortgages is going to result in some pretty nice profits even if some of them end up in foreclosure. The assumptions are that if every "toxic" mortgage forecloses, and half the "liar loans", and a much smaller portion of the documented loans (credit scores around 750, solid citizens with steady jobs, etc.), and only 1% - 2% of the super-prime loans (independently wealthy and high-income) foreclose, investors are still going to end up making better than 10% on the investment. If the "expected" rates of foreclosure (based on current experience) continue, investors are going to make better than 30%.

And this is going on despite rising unemployment, and a contracting economy. How is this happening?

People who have been living at the margin are just "out" of the picture. They're not producing or spending or earning. Everybody else who is still working is still spending, and there are still profits being made in the smaller economy.

Lots of Yankees went south and made fortunes following the Civil War. There are niches to be filled, and people are filling them. It's just like the plants coming back on Mt. St. Helens; you can't stop recovery as long as people have ambition.

It's also true that you cannot create recovery by throwing money at people who were poor and living on the margin before the collapse of the economy. There was plenty of opportunity for success out there, but people didn't do what was necessary to be successful, and that's why they ended up out on the street.

People who speculated in finance market lost big time. They were on the bubble, and should have known better. Times were good and salaries were high, but that was because of the risks involved, and the risks came home to roost.

The policies in effect at this time all sound good to people who have lost out, but the fact is there's not enough money around to rescue them.

The truth is that millions of people on the low end of the economy spent money they didn't have to throw away on things they could not afford. When those people can't make the payments, the "stuff" still exists. People who do have money will buy up the "stuff" at a discount and become more wealthy in the process. It's one of those "law of the jungle" things, and the government cannot change it because they cannot make people be hard-working, ambitious and responsible.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 5 months ago

Obama will not take guns away, only because he can't pull it off, he knows that so he pretends to be pro gun in order to get those votes. His backers would melt every gun down in civilian hands if they could. This group is trying at every turn to transfer power to the government and removing guns would be a big piece of the puzzle.

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popcan 5 years, 5 months ago

Well I can sure see from this column the little intelligence there is when it comes to standing up to this presidential administration. For all of you waiting for subsidized health care (welfare) from the tax paying citizens you just wait. You won't qualify! Ever occur to you, that the administration with health care will be like dealing with the IRS. Are those people caring and giving? Same thing with health care. You are going to get a form pushing administration made of relatives from the IRS. Health insurance is not a right. Then I guess car insurance is a right too. Where does it stop? I can't believe what I have read about gun control here. You give up your gun rights, just like Fred says ... You will be like the Iranians, that can't stand up for anything they want. What do you mean back ground check? Seems to me we use to have freedom in this country, where a background check was unheard of. But there are those dummies which will surrender all the opportunities this country has to offer and pay out all their money to big government for very little return if any. If you don't respect the rights you have now you will loose them, rest assured. You need Government to take care of you ... OK go for it, get out your check book and write a big check to Uncle Sam. And by the way, you just work and work, even if it means three jobs. The money in your bank account will go to the government, not to you. Maybe Uncle Sam will spare you enough money for a little rent and food but nothing else. You won't own anything. When I say a little rent, that's just what I mean. Several of your families can live together ... Third world country, maybe! This sounds like a dream opportunity to you liberals out there? How else can it possibly work? Somebody has to pay the high administrative costs. I'm not making this up. There will be no meaning to the word "PROFIT" to the U.S. Citizen.

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popcan 5 years, 5 months ago

Without firearms ... You're helpless! Those who give up their swords for plow shares ... Will work for those that didn't.

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