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Tilting at Windmills

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November 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

INSURANCE INDUSTRY ADVOCATES MORE INSURANCE....FILM AT 11....Good news, campers! The health insurance industry has decided that universal healthcare is a great idea. On Monday they unveiled a shiny new proposal:

The plan would rely on a mixture of expanded federal and state programs and tax credits for workers and their families to purchase private health insurance and pay medical expenses.

....But the proposal does not address the key elements that would determine whether it is even workable. For example...it fails to deal with the creation of purchasing pools to bargain down the cost of coverage, or with reforms to curtail industry practices that exclude people in poor health.

Let me get this straight. The private insurance industry favors a government program that would purchase more private insurance for people, but is opposed to anything that would drive down the cost of insurance or guarantee coverage for people the insurance industry doesn't want to cover. That's quite a plan. Why not just ask for grocery sacks full of unmarked bills instead?

I'm not any kind of hardliner when it comes to Democrats taking contributions from corporations. Money is part of politics and always will be, world without end. But if I could have one wish on this front it would be for no Democrat to ever accept another dime from the insurance industry. In practically every area I can think of, the insurance industry is, and always has been, the enemy of liberal/progressive/populist reform.

No national healthcare plan that relies primarily on private insurance will ever be able to control costs and provide universal coverage. Conversely, every national healthcare proposal that doesn't rely on private insurance i.e., all the ones that would work in a reasonably efficient and convenient way will be fought tooth and nail by the insurance industry. I don't blame the insurance industry for defending its turf, but the fact remains that Democrats will never be able to tackle healthcare properly as long as they depend on insurance industry money. This is not an interest group that's on our side, and Democrats should have figured this out a long time ago.

Kevin Drum 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (110)

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Comments

In practically every area I can think of, the insurance industry is the enemy of liberal/progressive/populist reform, and always will be.

That may be true, but 100 years ago, insurance was considered very progressive. It spreads the cost of a few people's problems out among many, many people. Early insurance executives were almost evanglical, feeling that they were helping the poor.

Posted by: wally on November 14, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

What's next, nationalized auto or homeowners insurance? Why is it O.K. for "private" insurance when it comes to cars and homes?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

I would think most American insurance executives are still Christians.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

No national healthcare plan that relies on private insurance will ever be able to control costs and provide universal coverage.

This is the one key point that policymakers must understand if we are to make any progress toward universal coverage.

It is also the main reason why universal coverage remains a pipedream.

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

What's next, letting the government seize the means of production, nationalize all industry and coerce us all into wearing gray ? Won't somebody think of the slippery slopes ?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

This is why the first plank of my platform is to bomb Hartford. Wilmington's next.

Besides, I thought we were the party of trial lawyers anyway. Aren't they the Sith to the insurance industry's Jedi?

Posted by: Mo MacArbie on November 14, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, we're pretty close to letting the insurance industry sieze the means of production.

Posted by: Karmakin on November 14, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

So sad how the CA election financing reform propostition went down in flames... would have helped immensely- (D) and (R) alike wouldn't have to take money directly from anybody- including insurance companies.

Anybody tell me how it got killed so badly (I was too depressed to look into it)? I thought it could have been revolutionary...

Posted by: llama on November 14, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it O.K. for "private" insurance when it comes to cars and homes?

Jeffery, there are structural characteristics of health insurance that make it very different from the insurance markets for cars and homes. Frankly, understanding those differences is probably beyond your capabilities, based on what I've seen of your previous comments.

So look it up.

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I think one of the greatest tragedies of the 90's stock boom was the de-mutualization of many insurance companies. By and large these were just boondoggles to enrich the execs. A mutual insurance company would take the stock market out of the equation. It wouldn't solve everything, but it is much better than the profit driven alternatives.

Posted by: crack on November 14, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not any kind of hardliner when it comes to Democrats taking contributions from corporations. Money is part of politics and always will be, world without end.

What the...?! Yep, can't change that, don't even try, give it up and embrace the darkness. Game over. Sorry, Americans--the democracy has been canceled due to lack of interest.

But if I could have one wish on this front it would be for no Democrat to ever accept another dime from the insurance industry.

Oh, good plan. After we accept that corporate money will "always be part of politics," we Democrats make a stand against the insurance industry by personally refusing to take its filthy lucre, while doing nothing to prevent Republicans from continuing to haul it in. Yes, that'll work.

Posted by: shortstop on November 14, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin,

No thanks.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Healthcare Explained:

It is no limitation upon property rights or freedom of contract to require that when men receive from Government the privilege of doing business under corporate form, which frees them from individual responsibility, and enables them to call into their enterprises the capital of the public, they shall do so upon absolutely truthful representations as to the value of the property in which the capital is to be invested. Corporations engaged in interstate commerce should be regulated if they are found to exercise a license working to the public injury. It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social- betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence. Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions. -Theodore Roosevelt 1901 State of the Union Address
Posted by: impeach.remove.convict.punish.justice on November 14, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

fwiw, iowa is the home to several major insurance companies. it would be interesting to see if their pacs have singled out any particular favorite. tom vilsack, in particular.

Posted by: linda on November 14, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I would guess they've had this plan in the wings for quite some time -- just waiting for necessity to dictate it's announcement. Always best to try and get out ahead on such issues before they are dictated to you.

Does this industry see DFL control of Congress lasting, and a possible Healthcare President in '08?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on November 14, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Why not just ask for grocery sacks full of unmarked bills instead?"

As good an idea as that sounds, I've found that it usually does not work.


=

Posted by: JRI on November 14, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

I would think most American insurance executives are still Christians.
Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

You *would* think that. Wouldn't you?

Most likely they are members of the Fundamentalist Church of the Invisible Hand. (which often requires its members to publicly claim they are Christian).

Posted by: impeach.remove.convict.punish.justice on November 14, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

The same government who runs FEMA will run the health care industry if we go to a universal health care plan.

I avoid going to the hospital closest to me because one about 10 miles away is a better hospital for the same cost. Government care will make sure all hospitals are equally crappy.

Posted by: Orwell on November 14, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

The same government who runs FEMA will run the health care industry if we go to a universal health care plan.

Only if we elect Republicans who appoint incompetent cronies.

Posted by: impeach.remove.convict.punish.justice on November 14, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

The same government who runs FEMA will run the health care industry if we go to a universal health care plan.

1) FEMA was a fine, well-functioning agency under Clinton. Bush gutted it.

2) Medicare, regardless of your right wing hatred of it, is widely recognized as one of the most successful public insurance programs in the world.

3) The Veterans Administration runs one of the finest "socialized medicine" outfits in the world.

4) Smarten up. We're talking about universal health insurance coverage, not government hospitals all over the place.

It's about health insurance, not government provision of health care services - get it?

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

The same government who runs FEMA will run the health care industry if we go to a universal health care plan.

Yet, these are the same people you want listening in on your phone calls and holding over your head the power to detain you indefinitely, without charges, on their say-so.

Make up your weak little mind.

Posted by: hateful hurtful horror on November 14, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

It's about health insurance, not government provision of health care services - get it?
Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

You can explain it to them 10,000 different ways, and they still won't "get it" because to them, it's "communism" (because it was Hillary's idea), and accepting this idea would be the same as rejecting Christ.

Posted by: impeach.remove.convict.punish.justice on November 14, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

'Why not just ask for grocery sacks full of unmarked bills instead?"

As good an idea as that sounds, I've found that it usually does not work.


=
Posted by: JRI on November 14, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK'

On second thought, the Republicans have made BILLIONS this way via the Iraq war.

Posted by: JRI on November 14, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

The Veterans Administration runs one of the finest "socialized medicine" outfits in the world.

Actually, it's one of the best medical care organizations in this country. Leave off the socialized part.

Politicians are fond of saying "We have the finest health care in the world." Actually, we don't, not by any measure. When you factor in that we pay several times more than people in other developed countries, we just might have the worst health care in the world.

But the fundamental question is, Do American citizens have a right to health care? Or is a doctor's visit like a car or a DVD player, something that most people have, but nothing that you're entitled to.

Posted by: wally on November 14, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"The same government who runs FEMA will run the health care industry if we go to a universal health care plan.


Posted by: Orwell on November 14, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK"

No. That was a REPUBLICAN government. They are done. The adults are back in charge now.

Posted by: JRI on November 14, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: I'm not any kind of hardliner when it comes to Democrats taking contributions from corporations.

I am, or any politician for that matter. Courtesy of the Jimmy Breslin School of Plain Speaking, I learned that there's already an English word to describe this: bribery.

Money is part of politics and always will be

True, but it doesn't have to be corporate (or union) money. Plenty of countries have systems of public financing, and there are states here that have formulated laws that pass Constitutional muster.

Saying that we can't outlaw bribery in the US is no different from saying that we can't have UHC.

if I could have one wish on this front it would be for no Democrat to ever accept another dime from the insurance industry

Oh, corporate money is ok, but not from that filthy insurance industry, right? But oil companies, defense contractors, tech, etc., etc. etc., are ok? Right. They're all concerned with the public welfare.

No national healthcare plan that relies primarily on private insurance will ever be able to control costs and provide universal coverage.

Better check out Germany and Japan before making such a blanket statement.

Posted by: alex on November 14, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, great, now nationalized financing of campaigns too, with no First Amendment whatsoever! Really, what's next?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Leave off the socialized part.

Indeed. In the rest of the world, "universal coverage" issues fall under the general label of "social health insurance," but we don't use that term here in the US because the "social" part of it sounds, like, too commie.

Do American citizens have a right to health care?

In my view at least, Americans have whatever rights we decide to give ourselves. As a nation, we need to ask ourselves the question you've asked, albeit slightly altered, "Should every American citizen have access to at least a basic level of health insurance coverage?"

If we answer 'yes' to that question, the only way to achieve that is through some form of publicly-supported universal coverage system. If we answer 'no', then fine, keep the system we've got.

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I am sorry folks, but while we were all wondering about who was going to be Majority Leader, the insurance company beat all of us progressives to the punch.

On the bright side the issue is now on the public table. I believe it is time for us to comeup with and promote a better plan. The longer we wait the more the solution will look like the insurance company proposal.

Remembering the perfect is the enemy of the good, how do we organize and promote and effective response?

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 14, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, "an effective response."

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 14, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Better check out Germany and Japan before making such a blanket statement.

Further clarification: Germany's "private" health insurance organizations are all not-for-profit.

"Private" can be either for-profit or not-for-profit. It's the profit motive in health insurance that leads to the moral hazard quandary that makes universal coverage impossible under a private, for-profit health insurance industry.

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, great, now nationalized financing of campaigns too, with no First Amendment whatsoever! Really, what's next?
Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Corporations will be perfectly welcome to burn as much money as they like in well-defined "Free Speech Zones".

Posted by: impeach.remove.convict.punish.justice on November 14, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin: Further clarification: Germany's "private" health insurance organizations are all not-for-profit.

Didn't know that. Are you talking about ones that individuals contract with, or companies? IIRC all employers above a certain size are required to provide health care plans.

Posted by: alex on November 14, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I did once, but no body took me seriously. Maybe if I openend and insurance company...

Posted by: tomeck on November 14, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Cool, what a great idea! With a huge new influx of government cash, William McGuire, the CEO of United Healthcare could backdate another $1.8 Billion in stock options.
(He has an excuse for the backdating. His annual salary is only $219 million, and come on, a guy's gotta put food on the table.)

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on November 14, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

A universal health program for the people who don't need it!

Hooray!

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on November 14, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

R.Porrofatto,
If God didn't want Mr. McGuire to have that much money, he wouldn't have made him the CEO of UHC.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Don't be absurd. This is a GOOD THING. Who cares if the insurance industry makes a few bucks if we reach 99.9% coverage? We can always visit the issue of costs later (and no doubt we'll be forced to in the fullness of time by our nice friend the bond market).

Once the camel's nose of universal healthcare coverage is under the tent, the American people will never allow it to be taken away. In this way they're no different from Norwegians or Canadians. We need to get universal coverage BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Let's not let the imperfect (even if it's highly imperfect) be the enemy of the good.

It is because the Clintons share your naivete that we've gone that last 13 years without coverage. Had they had my willingness to cut deals with whomever they need to, we'd have gotten universal coverage. No doubt back then just as now, the health insurance industry would have been happy to get, say, another 30 million new customers.

Posted by: Jasper on November 14, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

"if I could have one wish on this front it would be for no Democrat to ever accept another dime from the insurance industry"

or from the Chamber of Commerce. Think how many smaller "independent" insurance agencies are members.

Posted by: Molly McRae on November 14, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Good to see the fake "Jeffery" busy over on this thread too. Keep up the great work, chap.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Health care and health aren't the same thing. The fact that Americans live unhealthy lifestyles is a much greater threat to our country than the fact that many Americans are uninsured. Lack of insurance is a great threat, but lack of common sense and healthy lifestyle is a greater threat. The numbers speak for themselves. 18,000 Americans die every year because they did not have health insurance. Over one hundred thousand Americans die every year, however, from health problems relating to obesity, tobacco use, and drug and alcohol use. No amount of health insurance will save an unhealthy person.
There are some people who are chronically ill that we should fight to cover, as they do not have control over whether or not their costs will be high. But the majority of Americans end up having bad health because of their own personal failure, not the failure of society.

Posted by: brian on November 14, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, looks like the fake Jeffrey has arrived. I'll take her imitation as a compliment.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

No. That was a REPUBLICAN government. They are done. The adults are back in charge now.

Hail the new elite! Gods walking among us, free of all corruption, lobbyists, bribery and taint of greed.

For a generation of rule, the Democrats ran a stainless House and Senate, without any scandals, without any problems, and with the needs of the people always held higher than the need for power.

So by all means, turn over all our medical needs to them. And the rest of our lives, while we're at it. In the hands of the great Democrats, it will all work.

Posted by: vern on November 14, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

This is a preemptive strike to keep things as close to status quo as possible. Notice that the proposal is for children to go with Medicaid (nothing said about the problems of access for Medicaid beneficiaries) and for everyone else to go into private insurance. No talk about standards or a minimum set of benefits or coverage or bargaining power or any of the rest of what really matters. I don't really agree with Kevin that insurers are implacably on the other side, I just don't think that they are capable of implementing the kinds of efficiencies and cost controls that are necessary to make private insurance really work as a means of assuring universal access.

Posted by: Barbara on November 14, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's "Jeffery" not "Jeffrey" -- at least get that much right -- I'm a male as well.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I give up. You guys are too immature to bother with. See you in 2008, losers.

Posted by: Jeffrey on November 14, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a male as well.

Of what species? Certainly not anything we're familiar with.

Posted by: st on November 14, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey,
Bye.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just ask for grocery sacks full of unmarked bills instead?

Good question. It worked for the drug companies a couple of years ago, I can't believe the insurance companies think their lobbyists are that much less effective.

Posted by: just sayin on November 14, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

alex, a bit more clarification:

There are some private, for-profit insurance companies in Germany, so my statement about insurance firms in Germany being "all" not-for-profit was not precise.

Basically, it's like this: Germany has about 350 "sickness funds" (the not-for-profit insurance outfits I was referring to) which provide social health insurance coverage for about 90% of the overall population.

People not insured through the not-for-profit sickness funds (for example, self-employed, if I remember correctly) have private, for-profit insurance. There is even a very small slice of the population with no health insurance, but it's less than 1%.

It should also be noted that private, for-profit health insurance exists even in the UK, home of the most "socialized" of all the universal coverage systems, the NHS.

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

I am not leaving. I am a male of the genus: Homo and species: H. sapiens. Sorry, st, if you've never met one of us before, but I don't see how any of that is relevant to the thread topic.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey,
Bye.
Posted by: Jeffery
==================

At least the fake can spell.

Posted by: Geoffrey on November 14, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am a male of the genus: Homo and species: H. sapiens.
Posted by: Jeffery
========================

There goes the gene pool.

Posted by: Geoffrey on November 14, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'll go for more insurance as part of the healthcare crisis cure...so long as there is first a law that requires any and all healthcare insurance companies be non-profit.

Insurance (all of it but particularly health insurance) should NOT be about maximizing profit for a few execs. No. It should be purely about getting the most and best care to those that need it, when they need it.

Nonprofit healthcare insurance is a potential part of the answer. Or something organized along the lines of credit unions. The profit motive must be taken out of the equation when healthcare is part of that equation. No turn-downs for treatment or drugs because of profit hits.

Posted by: Praedor Atrrebates on November 14, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

I am not leaving. I am a male of the genus: Homo and species: H. sapiens. Sorry, st, if you've never met one of us before, but I don't see how any of that is relevant to the thread topic.

it's relevant because I just thought that mabye the reason you hadn't gotten the operation to make you normal was because we don't haave nationalized health care.

don't tell me youre choosing to be this way???

Posted by: st on November 14, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin: People not insured through the not-for-profit sickness funds (for example, self-employed, if I remember correctly) have private, for-profit insurance.

Thanks for the info. While I'm not personally thrilled w/ for-profits in a gov't subsidized game, I could live with it if properly regulated. I'm leery if that would happen here.

Posted by: alex on November 14, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Geoffrey:

As you just proved, there are several acceptable spellings of that name.

st:

What way -- not liberal-lobotomized?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Drum: "In practically every area I can think of, the insurance industry is, and always has been, the enemy of liberal/progressive/populist reform."

I can think of one counter-example: Global Warming.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on November 14, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

mhr is right. The public school system is a total disaster. The 92% of American kids who are currently in public schools are destined to lives of horrible hardship, thanks to their terrible educations. For proof, just look at the 90+% of people today, who are products of the public school system - they are all underacheiving morons with learning disorders and bad breath. Only the homeschooled and private-schooled elite, like me, are smart enough to know that the rest of you are idiots.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Take a look at the public school system and its lack of efficiency and of accountability for a foretaste of what lies in wait for us- an unending national nightmare.

And yet, mysteriously, that same "socialistic" nonprofit public school system got us to the moon. Funny that.

What is wrong with public school is NOT because it is non-profit, but because of various groups dicking with regulations and attempting privatize it, even if partially, so that it is no longer functional.

What was going on in the 50s and 60s, for the most part, is what worked to get us to the moon. NOT jesus private skoos, not maggot, err, I mean magnet skoos, etc. PUBLIC schools in all their "socialistic" and egalitarian glory.

Posted by: Praedor Atrrebates on November 14, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me again which NASA rocket scientists from the 1960's never went to college?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

blah, blah...drag this country down the socialist road to complete government control...blah, blah, blah

See what I mean? Part of the problem we face in this country is that it is so difficult to have a reasoned debate on universal health insurance coverage, precisely because of the persistent commie meme.

Look, I trained as an economist way back when; for most things, free enterprise is fine by me. But my economics training also taught me that there are some goods and services that "free markets" are either unwilling or unable to provide (for several reasons).

Universal health insurance coverage is one of them.

As long as we're stuck in the capitalist/communist dichotomy, we won't make much progress on this issue. Ultimately, the issues we have to address are a) do we want everyone to have health insurance and b) if yes, what is the most efficient and effective way to provide it?

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

There were also prayers to Jesus Christ in PUBLIC SCHOOLS until 1962-63. JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper: Who cares if the insurance industry makes a few bucks if we reach 99.9% coverage?

What's your definition of "a few bucks"?

We can always visit the issue of costs later

You mean when it gets even harder, because the insurance industry has even more at stake? Why don't we just hand them a blank check?

(and no doubt we'll be forced to in the fullness of time by our nice friend the bond market)

Oh, we don't even need more gov't debt for that. Our Chinese friends already hold $1T. Who knows when they'll issue a sell order.

It is because the Clintons share your naivete that we've gone that last 13 years without coverage. Had they had my willingness to cut deals with whomever they need to ...

Hillarycare had a sweet cut for the for-profit insurance industry. But they figured they could do even better w/o it. Just how big a bribe do you think it'll take?

Without proper regulation, which the industry will fight tooth and nail, they'll suck on the gov't teat so hard it'll make me put up a Barry Goldwater poster.

Posted by: alex on November 14, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just ask for grocery sacks full of unmarked bills instead?

Because you can't fit that much into a grocery bag. Iraq got pallets, we demand no less.

Posted by: snoey on November 14, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

There were also prayers to Jesus Christ in PUBLIC SCHOOLS until 1962-63. JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

And? That is like some sort of Harry Potter magic that makes students good at science and math? Didn't think so. It was also unconstitutional then and is unconstitutional now (and was unconstitutional with the advent of public education).

Tell you what, we'll properly fund public schools and allow moments of silence during which we will tell the students that they can meditate TM style, commune with Buddha or Krishna, pay homage to any Hindu or Shinto deities, or even mumble at Jaysus or Allah, or just think. Then we'll get to the business of educating students in social studies, to include a thorough analysis of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the importance of voting, educating them on science (like Evolution), and engineering...important and useful stuff.

Perhaps then they will be armed with the necessary logic and facts and appreciation for reality and humanistic values that this country was founded upon to do the work of fixing our healthcare system by giving us what is inevitable anyway: single payer ("socialized" in your one-note parlance) healthcare.

Posted by: Praedor Atrrebates on November 14, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

You were the one touting: "What was going on in the 50s and 60s, for the most part, is what worked to get us to the moon." I'm just agreeing with you and imploring we get back to some of those conservative values.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

The insurance industry will never consent to any form of universal healthcare that does not include private insurance. Insurance is gambling. Insurance companies make or save money by a)collecting premiums, and b) investing those premiums wisely, and c) denying claims.

They are betting that they can make or save more by doing any and/or all of the above than they have to pay out in claims. It is a bet, and like going to a casino, it is a bet that we the public want the insurance company to lose.

The insurance companies like casinos want to change the odds as much as possible and renege on as many bets as possible. They avoid insuring sickly people just like casinos ban card counters. Insurance companies deny claims just like casinos accuse players of cheating. In fact, it is better for the insurance companies. A casino would likely have to have some proof (via cameras) that someone was cheating. Insurance companies deny claims because they say it was never covered, a pre-existing condition, the claim was not filed in time, the claims was not pre-approved, the claim was not filled out on the right form, the claims was made from a non-approved provider, the charge was above the normal range of charges for that industry, the list goes on.

The provision of universal health care is fundamentally incompatible with private (for profit) insurance. Health care is a need, as opposed to a want. You could survive without car insurance because you could survive without a car (in some places better than others). You cannot survive without your health, because without it, you are not surviving at all. Herein lies the fundamental conflict. Because you need it, insurance companies will always be inclined to raise prices to meet demand. Additionally, because you will always have health issues at some time or another, insurance companies will have to pay for that unless they find a way to ensure a profit by propping up prices, keeping out sickly people, manufacturing a maze of procedures to trip you up.

The bottom line is that if any insurance company likes a universal health care plan, or similarly, proposes a universal health care plan, it is axiomatic that they are doing so in order to rig the system. So do you vote for a plan that you know is going to be rigged in some way or another? I think not.

Posted by: coltergeist on November 14, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

The 1st Amendment was ratified on on December 15, 1791 -- the first tax supported public school in America was in Dedham, Massachusetts 150 years before that -- why weren't public prayers to Jesus Christ "unconstitutional" after that?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

"And yet, mysteriously, that same "socialistic" nonprofit public school system got us to the moon. Funny that"

Now I'm confused, what does the German public school system have to do with anything?

Posted by: beowulf on November 14, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

coltergeist:

Food is a "need" too -- universal food care in the form of government soup-lines are next?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

No more private restaurants -- only government-run cafeterias -- if you've ever eaten in one of those, you know what I'm talking about.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Soylent Green is PEOPLE!!!

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'll tell ya the one thing that has always baffled me regarding the right wing's take on universal health insurance.

Everybody wants the US to be big and strong, to be the player on the world stage. Kick ass and take names and all that.

But you need a strong, well-educated and healthy population in order to be a player, baby. Investing in our national health means we can continue to compete in the world economy.

Doesn't anyone on the right ever think of a healthy nation as an asset?

Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Don't bother answering my 5:23. It's true that I'm disingenuously ignoring the difference between public and public-financed.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

O.K., fake Jeffery, which one was this:

On January 1, 1643, by unanimous vote, Dedham MA authorized the first U.S. taxpayer-funded public school: "the seed of American education." Its first teacher, REVEREND Ralph Wheelock, was paid 20 pounds annually to instruct the youth of the community. Descendants of these students would become presidents of Dartmouth College, Yale University and Harvard University. Perhaps you are unaware of the history of said Ivy League schools too?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

O.K., fake Jeffery, you got me. Things that happened in the 1600's in a British colony are completely relevant to the laws enacted by the nation that revolted against Britain 120 years later. There's just no way the new country of America could have enacted laws that break with English tradition in any way - that's what The Church Of America says, anyway.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Among industrialized nations, the U.S. ranks horribly in the quality of our health care, but we spend the most by a mile. The glaring difference between our system and those in these other countries is that we're the only country without nationalized care.

Why is this data not enough to convince everyone that the system adopted by almost every other nation is better than ours? It's pretty disheartening.

Posted by: Liberal Chris on November 14, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie posting as "Jeffery" wrote: "Really, what's next?"

More idiotic bullshit from you would be a good guess.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 14, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Careful, SecularAnimist, as you seem more than willing to give me plenty of attention ; )

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal Chris:

Compared to percentage of GDP, the U.S. is less charitable in foreign aid than almost every other nation too -- we still give the MOST. No one who can afford the good things in life will wait in government food lines either. See the difference between quantity and quality?

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffery,
They only give us attention because we're make it so easy for them to smack us around.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

At least we're not talking about nationalized healthcare anymore.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

jeffREY = teen troll on meth

Posted by: Keith G on November 14, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

National healthcare is a great idea. Unfortunately, as Kevin points out, and everybody already knows, people like me shout "Communism!" at the mere mention. Our knee-jerk reaction to an enemy that exists only in our minds is probably the greatest obstacle to allowing our country to do the right thing. It's only when the last of the old-school Commie-haters have died, and the anti-commie hysteria is seen as anachronistic as fear of Japs and Krauts that a true single-payer health system has even a slight chance.

I'm an irrational obstacle. I admit it.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm many comments late to this, but let me say that for 20 years I have felt that insurance is the one business that absolutely should be nationalized. The fundamental goal of any insurance company is at odds with the goals of its customers, unlike almost any other business.

Even WalMart, whatever else it does wrong, has interests that line up with the people who shop there.

But insurance is a business in which the goal of the company is to collect your premiums...and then do nothing. And so they fight every claim, and then you move to another company, and then they collect a bunch of money from you, and then deny your claims. It's as close to legalized theft as you can get.

Plus insurance only really works when the risk pool is big and varied - exactly the opposite of what insurance companies want, which to "insure" people who will never need to make a claim.

Oh, and shortstop is right, and "Jeffery" is ruining Kevin's blog. If it isn't ruined already.

Posted by: craigie on November 14, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

But you need a strong, well-educated and healthy population in order to be a player, baby.
Posted by: Wonderin on November 14, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

They don't believe we need that anymore.

We have robots, computers, and nuclear missiles. The Oligarchs can rule from on high, and when the people get uppity, they just push a button, and they don't have to worry about the loyalties of soldiers, or how much they're paying the rabble to wipe their asses for them.

Posted by: impeach.remove.convict.punish.justice on November 14, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

At least Bob / rmck1 is gone.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me again which NASA rocket scientists from the 1960's never went to college?
Posted by: Jeffery on November 14, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Von Braun.

Well, he never went to college in the US.

Posted by: impeach.remove.convict.punish.justice on November 14, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

But insurance is a business in which the goal of the company is to collect your premiums...and then do nothing. And so they fight every claim, and then you move to another company, and then they collect a bunch of money from you, and then deny your claims. It's as close to legalized theft as you can get.

Pithy synopsis, one that should be be repeated over and over to the masses as we have the discussion about nationalized health care until it finally sinks in.

And "ss close to legalized theft as you can get" should be on the bumpersticker.

Posted by: trex on November 14, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote:"...Why not just ask for grocery sacks full of unmarked bills instead?"

To be fair, this was the plan had the Republican congress been reelected.

Posted by: david on November 14, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Now I'm confused, what does the German public school system have to do with anything?

It's public not private.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on November 14, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, craigie; right back atcha. Excellent post, as trex says.

Alex made my point far more eloquently and worlds more politely than I did.

Posted by: shortstop on November 14, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why, there's a tremendous amount of eloquence around here.

Posted by: Pale Rider on November 14, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

And birds are singing, flowers are blooming...

Posted by: shortstop on November 14, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

mmm, spare ribs

Posted by: homer on November 14, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and shortstop is right, and "Jeffery" is ruining Kevin's blog. If it isn't ruined already.

well, at least he's not posting anti-Semitic bullshit and Chinese spam. (not that i'm defending TrollyCharlieThomasJerrerrey)

this place really needs a registration system and/or moderation of some kind. this free-for-all posting scheme is crap, on a blog with this much traffic.

Posted by: cleek on November 14, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

mmm, spare ribs

That made me laugh, but it's Japanese.

mmmm, sushi.

Posted by: shortstop on November 14, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the slavish Republicans would be more than happy to allow the insurance industry to bend the Average American over a barrel and ream their assholes....Thank you, Dubya, may I have some more??

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger on November 14, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, quite right Liberal Avenger. I would allow George Bush to pack my turdcutter with wigglers any day or night. Oooooh, George...

Posted by: Jeffrey on November 14, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell's 3:29 post wasn't so far out to lunch as some have assumed.
I read it as a note that government changes hands between parties and if public healthcare is in the hands of the dickheads it will be a target for the same sort of sabotage as FEMA was. It happened in Manitoba and British Columbia ( Canada ) when the provincial government enacted no-fault auto insurance so as to keep the lawyers from tying up the courts and getting rich with make work that raised premiums.
When the government changed back to the more common big business dominated model premiums rocketed. It was a tax grab that made a bogus point about bureaucratic efficiency.

Posted by: opit on November 15, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Not just insurance, but the whole health industry would benefit by a non-profit/nationalization reform plan. The health care and parmasuedical industries have a similar problems with profit motive being at odds with what is best for the customers.
The other big scam is federally funded reaearch that generates patents that are turned over to industry for a pittance (or for nothing at all).
The biggest moneymakers for the pharma industry are the drugs the treat symptoms without reducing or eliminating the underlying disease. They can make a hell of a lot more money by making the patient pay and pay for maintaince care, but once the poor sap is cured they're not making money anymore.

It's legalized extortion.

Posted by: joe on November 15, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

I poop a lot and it makes me tired.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 15, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

> WHat do you mean, instead? Isn't that part VII of the plan?

Posted by: firefall on November 15, 2006 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

Ya gotta wonder about people like Jeffrey. Do they respond to actual empirical evidence? Do facts and experience mean anything to them?

Every advanced country in the world has national health insurance. All spend much less money than we do on health care. And all have better health outcomes.

The words are "every" and "all." The facts are not only not in serious dispute, they are not indispute at all.

Posted by: Matt on November 15, 2006 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Ya gotta wonder about people like Jeffrey. Do they respond to actual empirical evidence? Do facts and experience mean anything to them?

The thing about me is that I'm not actually arguing in good faith; I'm here simply to repeat talking points and to gain attention. Your responses to my posts, no matter how well-reasoned or well-argued are only interesting to me in that they provide me ways to recite different talking points. You might think you've won the argument about Bush's Latest Lie, for example, with your precious "evidence" and "logic", but in reality, you've only given me a chance to recite a talking point about Clinton's Lies, or Kerry's Insult, or some other tangent. You're not going to persuade me one way or another with facts, logic or common sense, because I'm not here to be pursuaded. I'm here to deliver talking points and to gain attention.

Once you realize that, you can stop trying to argue substance with me, and you can start treating me with all the contempt I deserve.

Posted by: Jeffery on November 15, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Remember the internet? I mean, before the World Wide Web came to be what we call "the internet"? As everybody knows, it was a government research project that tied together government offices and research centers like UC-Berkeley. It developed all the tools that drive the current internet, like TCP/IP and other standards. Worked great. Then it was decided to open it up for commercial use. Who wants to argue that Microsoft and Netscape improved the system?

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