Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

August 4, 2009

RAPID RESPONSE KICKS INTO GEAR?.... Some conservative sites started touting a "new" video yesterday, with then-Sen. Obama telling an SEIU forum that he doesn't think policymakers will be able to "eliminate employer coverage immediately," but he thinks it's possible over the next 15 to 20 years.

Naturally, Fox News and other conservatives pounced, and Drudge told major news outlets to take the video seriously. In reality, as Rachel Weiner explained, "[T]he video is cropped disingenuously. Immediately beforehand, Obama said, 'I would hope that we could set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort.' He was talking about turning employer insurance into something more portable, not eliminating all private insurance."

The right is not fond of context or nuance when there are still people out there who need to be misled.

Perhaps more important, though, is the way in which the White House is starting to respond to bogus media reports. White House Office of Health Reform Communications Director Linda Douglass appeared in a three-minute video, released overnight, that specifically points to the bogus allegation published by Drudge, and proceeds to set the record straight.

"You know the people who always try to scare people whenever you try to bring them health insurance reform are at it again, and they're taking sentences and phrases out of context and they're cobbling them together to leave a very false impression," Douglass said, explaining that one of her responsibilities is keeping track of "all the disinformation that's out there about health insurance reform."

The headline at the White House blog reads, "Facts Are Stubborn Things."

Apparently, we'll be seeing more of this. White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told CNN, "We intend to use a lot of the grassroots viral Internet techniques from the campaign to beat back the campaign of misstatements and outright falsehoods about the President's efforts to reform health insurance."

Like it or not, the fight over reform isn't a legislative debate, it's a political campaign. I'm glad the White House realizes it's time to treat it accordingly.

Steve Benen 11:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Maybe someone should take a bunch of McCain statements and cobble them together so he sounds like a lunatic communist. Then play that in an advertisement, pointing out that people are out there who will do this kind of thing, and then point the viewer to a fact-checking website where they can see all the right wing bullshit exposed for what it is.

Posted by: Racer X on August 4, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

My suggestion to any DEM holding a town meeting or public get together of any kind on health care reform plan: Find an old, crippled/mobility impaired gal or guy to open their meeting. Have them announce that the "protesters" have five minutes to spew their noise, noes, and nasty...then they must sit down and put their fingers in their ears (so no facts seep in) and be quiet while those who took their time to travel there for an honest give and take are allowed to ask their questions and make their comments for their representative to hear. We've already passed this on to our house representative...NOW YOU DO YOUR PART if you think it might help...

Posted by: Dancer on August 4, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I don't understand how Obama thinks he can guarantee that everyone who likes their current health coverage will be able to keep it. That may be something Obama wants in the final bill, but he isn't writing health care legislation, Congress is; neither has he said he would veto a bill that failed to meet his stated objectives (with the likely exception of a bill that increases the deficit). His "promise" seems more like wishful thinking than a reliable guarantee.

Does he really think that he can let Congress come up with anything it wants to and then he'll be able to restructure the final product in conference according to his own expectations and promises? Is that really his plan?

Posted by: oh really on August 4, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the simple message - "the rightwing opponents of health care reform are LYING to you". Then again - anyone that does not know by now that Drudge and Faux News routinely lie is really, really stupid.

Posted by: pgl on August 4, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Know what? Fuck 'em! Eliminate those scum sucking, profit stealing, care denying private health denial companies off the face of the earth.

Someone tell me what purpose they serve other than to kill people?

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

So few appear to understand the importance in portability of employer health plans. Yesterday, a friend called to say her husband had been laid off after working for several years. When, she turned 65, three years ago, she opted not to go on Medicare B because her much younger husband had an employer plan. If one opts out of B at the age of 65, then they must be on a plan. If any gap occurs between the dropping of that plan and signing on with B, one must pay a 10% penalty per year. They do not have the money to hold out with COBRA for very long. With the economy in Portland, his chances of being picked by another firm are slim, not to forget the chances of new health care are almost non-existent. She cannot sign up for Medicare B at this time, so a gap will occur.

This is falling through the cracks of our, as Michael Medved says, "the most wonderful healthcare system known to man".

Posted by: berttheclock on August 4, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Private health care insurance companies make tons of money for their stockholders and execs, and help to continuously raise the cost of health care which helps doctors, labs, clinics and hospitals to make more money. Plus they make high paying jobs for K Streeters.

Any other easy questions, MsJoanne?

Posted by: anonymous on August 4, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Now, now, anonymous - We all know Serota, the CEO of Regence BC/BS of Oregon is worth every cent of his more than $872,000 per annum salary.

Posted by: berttheclock on August 4, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

so the right does
Hate Hate Hate Fear Fear Fear Fear Hate Fear Hate Fear Hate

and Obama's folks are coming back with
Calm down, It's okay ...


hmmm, wonder who'll win...

Posted by: neill on August 4, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised that Linda Douglass, as a veteran TV news personality, hasn't been vigorously pushed onto ALL the Sunday gasbag shows as well as the daily CNN and MSNBC talk-a-thons.

One would think she'd be a natural choice.

Why isn't she everywhere on the tube, daily?

Posted by: Cal Gal on August 4, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

"My suggestion to any DEM holding a town meeting or public get together of any kind on health care reform plan: Find an old, crippled/mobility impaired gal or guy to open their meeting"

I think we need to show up, too, and when these yahoos start to disrupt the proceedings, WE need to stand up, point at them, and shout "Let us listen." Over and over until they sit down and shut up. OK, maybe the town hall wouldn't get any more informative, but it's not going to be with these farging iceholes left alone in their disruptive tactics. And at least there would be some counter protests by people who want reform to broadcast.

And if they shout "Sit down" like they did the other day to the guy who asked why single payer wasn't being considered, we'd be there to shout "YOU sit down. YOU sit down."

I've even got a name for our counter-protests "Let's drink their TEA."

I spent a little time yesterday trying to find out where the wingnuts organize which town halls to go to so I could organize some friends to attend. Anybody know?

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on August 4, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

MsJoanne....are you really that foolish?

So you want to eliminate insurance companies because they make a profit? Why not eliminate every company that makes a profit? Let's let the goevernment absorb EVERYTHING....because profits are bad, right? No company should ever make a profit....no successful executives should ever make good salaries. The only people that should make a lot of money are politicians, athletes, and celebrities. Is that your point...cause that is what I am hearing.

I look forward to a response. Note that I did not swear or attack you. I just ask reasoned questions. Which companies or entities in the U S should be allowed to make profits....or their employees to make high salaries?

Because under Obama so far, it has been decided that banks, investment firms, car companies, insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical firms are all on that list. They get to make no profits and their employees get limited salaries.

The only group conspicuously missing from that list is......LAWYERS! Gee, what a surprise. The true reason for the high cost of health care....and they never get mentioned. Hmmmmm.

Posted by: Major Bill on August 4, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to see the administration step out and outshout the RepuGs about the benefits of the government running programs, especially the VA.

Of course, I wish they had just rammed Single Payer down their throats and had thrown "bi-partitanship" to the winds. The administration has made a huge mistake in not taking over the banks. They have allowed the banks to structure remodification loans, instead of re-structuring that field themselves. This has allowed the Foxes to run rampant in the hen house. BofA and others are not restructuring prior to default. They generate far too many fees by dragging their feet. This plan is not working because the government put no teeth into it, but, it does show the fallacy of how wonderful that private enterprise system works. The exception being when it works in their favor. Mr President, you have some very poor advisors at 1600.

Posted by: berttheclock on August 4, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

It does not matter what Obama said last year or last week. He is not writing the Health Care Overhaul Bill. Congress is writing the legislation. There are MANY committees and sub-committees involved and there are MANY Congress-People and Senators at every level (from Reid and Pelosi down to back-bench Blue Dogs) with huge egos to smooth and legacies to cement into monuments and history books. Obama cannot compete with such forces, and he doesn't want to and he doesn't need to. Just get him any legislation called "The Edward Kennedy Health Care Reform Act" to sign --- it matters not at all what is in it --- and the Democrats will own Washington DC for another 50 years.

Posted by: russ on August 4, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

To clarify my point regarding lawyers:

1) Frivilous lawsuits put millions in the pockets of attorneys....while only a fraction makes it back to the true victims;

2) Malpractice insurance premiums have increased 500% in the last 15 years alone (compare that to your auto ins. premiums, for example). These costs are passed on to patients;

3) When Obama preaches about multiple tests...tests that "aren't necessary"...he is talking about the countless tests that doctor's perform to cover their tails in case of lawsuits. Every doctor is aware that if they do not examine every inch of every patient over and over, they can be held liable in a malpractice suit.

Thus....enact tort reform....and that will instantaneously lower health care costs substantially. But none of the congressmen....the vast majority of whom are attorneys....will touch this.

Son't believe me? Just ask yourself: why was health care so much cheaper 40 years ago?

Posted by: Major Bill on August 4, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Major Bull, you mean those Ken Starr types of "Oh, those billable hours, those great big billable hours"? The ones who work for corporate on a fee basis and, constantly, keep their timers running. The ones who can bury any plaintiff's attorney with paper work by filing motion upon motion and thousands of pages of boiler plate interrogs? The ones with massive support? The Gibson, Dunn and Crutchers of the world with offices in major cities? The ones who represent the defendant, er, that is the insurance company, er, no, the defendant? Those types, Bull Artist?

Posted by: berttheclock on August 4, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

It would be nice if Obama would just be honest, and tell everyone that creating a public option will be the end of private insurance within a few years (if it takes that long), because it's not possible to compete with an entity that is subsidized by taxpayers and who prints its own money when needed. Then people can decide which policy they'd prefer. But acting as if both can survive side by side if not on a level playing field is simply a lie, and the administration knows it.

Posted by: Steve from Wisconsin on August 4, 2009 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Major Bill (above) "Just ask yourself: why was health care so much cheaper 40 years ago?"

Here's why, Major Bill.

1. 40 years ago we didn't have cat scans, most anti-cancer drugs, robotic surgery and other techniques that save lives but cost major money.

2. 40 years ago a buck was worth what a quarter is today, give or take a little.

3. 40 years ago there were still malpractice suits and malpractice insurance, but malpractice insurance companies weren't so pressured for profits, or so badly managed that they made too little off their premium investments.

4. 40 years ago, medical school tuition was maybe a tenth of what it is today. The cost of all education has leaped ahead exponentially, in comparison with inflation. Doctors have to pay off their student loans.

5. 40 years ago, the cost of most prescription medication was negligible.

6. 40 years ago, we didn't have fools muddying up the waters by blaming lawyers for the cost of everything from the cost off surgery to the anti-idiocy pills you must have forgotten to take this morning.

Yours very crankily,

Posted by: The New York Crank on August 4, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bill, healthCARE and profits can never coexist peacefully together. Period. They should never have been allowed to go into business in the first place (for profits - thank you Richard Nixon). The only way they make their profits is to overcharge and deny.

Capitalism is dead wrong when people have to die for health "care" company profits.

Son't believe me? Just ask yourself: why was health care so much cheaper 40 years ago?

Because we didn't have the type of health care we have now. Because there weren't billions and billions in profit and Wall Street expectations to drive rescissions, denials, postponements and death, all for that almighty buck.

I am not saying that there isn't a need for a better tort system (for people who are egregiously injured need a remedy), but that is a minute part of the problem.

Oh, and what the NY Crank said.

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 4, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Please Stop It! BHO has said he favors single payer universal health care! No one has cropped his words or misinformed the public about this. The man can not tell the truth and all of you "progressives" (what a joke, the term is LIBERALS) refuse to see it or have been drinking the kool aid so long you actually believe the lies he tells.

Posted by: Gee Vee on August 4, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Major Bill@12:40 PM says:
"So you want to eliminate insurance companies because they make a profit?"

There are perverse incentives to the profit motive in health insurance, summarized by the statement, "It's always cheaper to let them die". Perhaps it is possible to regulate health insurance in such a way that for-profit insurers are prevented from using denial of care to maximize profits. If not, then an answer of "yes" to your question may be appropriate. And before you start prattling on to us about competition preventing this, keep in mind that (1) it hasn't worked, and (2) in many regions of the country, there is only one health insurance company.

Posted by: divF on August 4, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I love this ridiculous argument: "The video is disingenuously cropped together, taken out of context." Ummm...actually, the uncut version of the video is more damaging by itself.
I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And thats what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And thats what Id like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.

Spin that

Posted by: Mike on August 4, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Whoops, Drudge posted the full unedited video. Looks like he was being truthful and the Whitehouse is once again lying. It does appear that "Facts are a stubborn thing".

What surprised me most is how lame the Whitehouse response seems to be. Do they really think for one moment Drudge wouldn't post the unedited video?

The only way to understand the Whitehouse response is to realize they are just targeting their mindless unquestioning base.

They realize that Drudge caught Obama with his pants down and had no way to explain it. So they did the only thing they could do. Preach their version of the gospel to their true believers.

Posted by: Kim on August 4, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Bill...I forgot....

Because under Obama so far, it has been decided that banks, investment firms, car companies, insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical firms are all on that list. They get to make no profits and their employees get limited salaries.

For companies which took taxpayer money. If they didn't want the government as a business partner they should have gone out of business, like any other company which is run into the ground.

The ONLY reason I supported money going to GM was that there were millions of jobs at stake; GM jobs, supplier jobs, jobs in towns where the plants and suppliers operate, the whole soup to nuts job loss would have crushed out economy completely, thrown us into a deep depression which would have taken decades to recover from.

If Wall Street - and other firms - didn't like taking OUR money, they should have said no. And if they don't like the strings attached, give the money back and fold with no stockholders getting any money. Period.

Don't like that? Too bad.

Now take your right wing ass outta here. I am not bothering with you again.

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 4, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Can we please agree to stop using the word "disingenuously" as in "cropped disingenuously." The word should be "dishonestly." Many people don't know what"disingenuously" means. It's stupid to obscure your message.

Posted by: Cat G on August 4, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

And for everyone saying "Evil healthcare companies make insane profits!!!" Here: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/industries/Health_Care_Insurance_Managed_Care/2.html

The top 12 health care companies averaged 4.66% profit. Wow...breathtaking. I'm with Kim...facts are stubborn things.

Posted by: Mike on August 4, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Americans for Insurance Reform after review of medical malpractice premiums, claims, profits and the impact of medical malpractice tort law limits finds:

• Medical malpractice premiums, inflation-adjusted, are nearly the lowest they have been in over 30 years.

• Medical malpractice claims, inflation-adjusted, are dropping significantly, down 45 percent since 2000.

• Medical malpractice premiums are less than one-half of one percent of the country’s overall health care costs; medical malpractice claims are a mere one-fifth of one percent of health care costs. In over 30 years, premiums and claims have never been greater than 1% of our nation’s health care costs.

• Medical malpractice insurer profits are higher than the rest of the property casualty industry, which has been remarkably profitable over the last five years.

• The periodic premium spikes that doctors experience, as they did from 2002 until 2005, are not related to claims but to the economic cycle of insurers and to drops in investment income.

• Many states that have resisted enacting severe restrictions on injured patients’ legal rights experienced rate changes (i.e., premium increases or decreases for doctors) similar to those states that enacted severe restrictions on patients’ rights, i.e., there is no correlation between “tort reform” and insurance rates for doctors.

AIR concludes that there absolutely no reason to further limit the liability of doctors and hospitals, who already benefit from more liability protection for their negligence than any profession in the country. Further, doing so would have almost no impact on overall health care expenditures - except that the costs of medical error and hospital-induced injury would remain.

28 more pages [pdf]:

http://www.insurance-reform.org/TrueRiskF.pdf

Posted by: dj spellchecka on August 4, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

So you want to eliminate insurance companies because they make a profit? -Major Bill

Yes.

There are some businesses which should exist without a profit motive. Police, fire, sanitation, health care, defense, prisons, news and education. All of these things, and many more, promote the general welfare and should be applied as equally as possible, not to the highest bidder.

There was a time when health insurance was a nonprofit industry and it worked.

Because under Obama so far, it has been decided that banks, investment firms, car companies, insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical firms are all on that list. -Major Bill

The common theme you're failing to note is how horribly all of those industries preformed, under a friendly administration I might add, before the government had to step in to help. You're also being misleading. Not a single one of the industries you mentioned has been socialized.

Son't [sic] believe me? Just ask yourself: why was health care so much cheaper 40 years ago? -Major Bill

Most of the health insurance industry was a heavily regulated, nonprofit industry. Private providers struggled to survive against Blue Cross/Blue Shield and early HMOs. Any more easy questions?

Posted by: doubtful on August 4, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

The video is not "dishonest". It is true. Obama does indeed support single payer.
Conveniently left out of this dishonest article(if anything is dishonest it is this article) are Obama's statements in 2003 in a video where he clearly says he supports a single payer system "but we can not get there immediately until we take back the White House, the House, and Senate". And the 2007 statements are not taken out of context either. Stop reporting propaganda here and stop shielding Obama!!!

Posted by: ConstantineXI on August 4, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

What is strange about the health insurance debate is that the concept of risk-management is lost. You who purchase car insurance understand, do you not, that the insurance company is betting you will drive accident-free while you are betting someone will smash you in the rear. Elaborate actuarial statistics allow the premiums to be set where they are both affordable to you and profitable to the company. Why is health insurance not driven by risk-manangement concepts? The insurance company bets you will stay healthy. You, however, bet that you will get sick (cancer, heart disease, whatever) and the actuarial statistics sets the premiums. Maybe we are not debating about insurance at all, but some kind of medical version of Social Security.

Posted by: Russ was a Californian on August 4, 2009 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

What Obama says and what Obama wants, as is the case for many people, are probably two different things. Remember 95 percent not paying higher taxes? Heh, right. I'm self-employed and making about 70 grand, and this healthcare bill will force me to get coverage I don't need or it will penalize me for not doing so. Obama's statements are couched and conditional, precisely so that political hacks like Benen can flack for him. The bottom line is that powerful political factions in the US want a Canada-style healthcare financing system, and the substance of the claims made on "right-wing" sites is probably correct.

This is not why I voted for Obama.

Posted by: Asher on August 4, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Healthcare was so much cheaper 40 years ago because we had far fewer elderly people, and because the technological innovations in the intervening period are really, really expensive. It ain't rocket science to figure out that we are simply providing a massively greater quantity of healthcare than we were 40 years ago.

Posted by: Asher on August 4, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

TO Doubtful.....

You say the pharmaceutical industry performed horribly? You might want to re-think that statement. American pharmaceutical companies spend BILLIONS in research to develop life-saving drugs.

I don't remember all the liberal activists complaining about the pharmaceutical companies as they try to develop cures for....say...AIDS. But now they are "horrible"? Your words...not mine.

We may just have a philosophical difference. I am a proud capitalist...risk and reward. If you take risks with your life and money...you reap rewards.

If instead, you decide to take a different path with your life....and don't take risks...then you don't reap rewards.

Why is everyone insistent on punishing companies and individuals (doctors) who invest heavily (10 years post-graduate school).

My belief....which you are free to disagree with in a civil manner....is if you take risks....you deserve rewards.

In a non-socialist society....which America still is (barely), profit is a great motivator. We can disagree....but you have to acknowedge....right or wrong....that profit motivates people to do that which wouldn't get done otherwise.

Why would Merck, for instance, spend billions on research developing Lipitor for cholesterol lowering.....if there wasn't a chance to make a profit down the road. If you then state...profits are okay, but only a "fair" profit, who decides what is fair?

I simply do not understand why doctors and drug companies are being portrayed as the problem...while parasitic lawyers are getting a free pass.

Posted by: Major Bill on August 4, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer, universal healthcare plan, that's what I'd like to see".

Barack Obama, 2003

"I think if we could get a good public option it could lead to single-payer, and that's the best way to reach single-payer".

Barney Frank, 2009

"Next to me was a guy from the insurance company, who then argued against the public option saying that ... it would put the private insurance out of business [yelling now to rapturous applause from the audience] and lead to single-payer. [still yelling] He was right, the man was right."

Jan Schakowsky, 2009

C'mon Steve, at least attempt to do a little basic research on the entirety of the videos those "rightwing sites" are posting. Absolutely pathetic.

Look, I am not necessarily opposed to single-payer myself, although the Dems version would be horrific, but to deny that the power structure in the Dem party is trying to force it's version on the US makes you look ridiculous.

Posted by: Asher on August 4, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

We should be lucky enough to get Canadian style healthcare.

Ask any Canadian if they want the US healthcare system and not one will say yes. If any Canadian politician attempts to mess with their healthcare system, their political life is over. Period.

Canadians will not tolerate anyone screwing with their healthcare.

You walk into a hospital, show your Social Insurance Card, get emergency care and go home. Cost? $0.00. That's ZERO for those who can not read.

They use a triage system for criticality of surgeries. If someone is closer to death than someone else, that person gets the surgical slot. Few have to wait for more than a couple of months for any surgery (or any test) and if they have to wait, it is because others are sicker. Why would this be a bad thing to ensure that everyone can see a doctor, when needed?

They can slime other systems as much as they want (after all, those lame ass French are #1 in the world, right, righties?) but god forbid we as Amurkins can get #1 rated healthcare.

If you haven't checked it out, follow www.AmericaBlog.com for a bit. John Avarosis is on vacation in Paris for something like 6 weeks and wound up first having to go to the emergency room and later having to have emergency surgery.

His account thus far was pretty stunning. I can't wait for his return to the computer (his surgery was eye related - he could have gone blind without this surgery) and is still on the mend) because I am dying to hear about his experience with the surgery.

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 4, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Mike on August 4, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Mike, that Money link is from 2006.

(shaking head)

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 4, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

MsJoanne,

That Canadians love their healthcare systems is one of the biggest MYTHS that is being perpetuated by Pelosi and their ilk. I work with a client in B C, and I have asked most of their 390 employees this question....and the MAJORITY think the U S has a much better system of QUALITY healthcare.

I realie we can all quote studies to our liking, but here is one that will raise your eyelids. The World Health Organization (WHO)....an organization that is not fans of America by any stretch...ranked the U S health system #1 out of 109 industrialized nations. Period.

Also, in US survey after US survey, 80-90% of respondents claim they are satisfied with their OWN healthcare. What's more, it is # 6 on the list of issues for Congress to deal with, behind, in order:
1)unemployment,
2)the long-term deficit,
3)the war in Iraq,
4)Social Security,
5)crime

By the way, the environment comes in 9th, after

7) drugs
8) education

The 2 most recent polls were Gallup (last week in July) and Pew Research (July 23rd).

Just thought you would like to know......

Posted by: Major Bill on August 4, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

You say the pharmaceutical industry performed horribly? -Major Bill

Ah, dishonest cherry picking. You cited several industries which required government intervention recently, banking and auto manufacturing among them, then decide to act as if I specifically singled out pharmaceuticals? Sigh.

Well, despite your less than reassuring assertions, market collusion and price fixing (which are anti-capitalist) is rampant in the pharma industry. When we don't have to import vaccinations from foreign countries to meet our demand, then I will listen to arguments that pharma hasn't preformed horribly.

Why is everyone insistent on punishing companies and individuals (doctors) who invest heavily (10 years post-graduate school). -Major Tom

Doctors and hospitals and drug manufactures continue to get paid when insurance is socialized. They already prefer to deal with Medicare. More dishonest talking points.

Why would Merck, for instance, spend billions on research developing Lipitor for cholesterol lowering.....if there wasn't a chance to make a profit down the road. -Major Tom

The profit motive encourages prolonging treatments and designer drugs, not cures. Diabetes is one of the most profitable diseases in the United States. Without government research grants, no one would be working on a cure. But at least diabetics can grow hair and get hard.

If you then state...profits are okay, but only a "fair" profit, who decides what is fair? -Major Tom

Don't put words in my mouth. I already stated that profits are not okay in many industries, as they create a conflict of interest which works against the general welfare. Are you so dedicated to capitalism and against socialism that you advocate a private police force? Private firefighters? Private roads? Private military? I shudder to think of what the United States would become if it were stripped of all socialism.

I simply do not understand why doctors and drug companies are being portrayed as the problem...while parasitic lawyers are getting a free pass. -Major Tom

I'm certainly not giving lawyers a pass, but I'm far less willing to limit the rights of a legitimate victim, nor am I delusional enough to think that the single cause of rising health care costs are attributable to litigation. It's a simple enough task to look at states that do limit malpractice damages and see they have as high or higher insurance rates than the rest of the country.

Posted by: doubtful on August 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Why should I take Douglass any more seriously than Drudge? She's obviously "cobbled together" a bunch of quotes from Obama, where he seems to support a more moderate view (like "let me be clear, I don't want to run General Motors") than he does in the other video. Does that make her video "dishonest"? I guess it depends on which Obama you believe in.

Posted by: INTJ on August 4, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

That Canadians love their healthcare systems is one of the biggest MYTHS that is being perpetuated by Pelosi and their ilk. I work with a client in B C, and I have asked most of their 390 employees this question. -Major Bill

Your personal and likely apocryphal anecdote is no substitute for actual data.

Regardless. We're not talking about health care. We're talking about health insurance.

Colluding the two is one of the primary tactics of the fear mongers attempting to derail insurance reform. We're not changing health care; we're changing how it's paid for and who has access to it.

Posted by: doubtful on August 4, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

So, are the insurance companies "evil" or not ?

Is Obama on board for "single payer" or has another expiration been reached ?

I [Barack Obama] happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.

Is this "inoperative" ?

Posted by: Neo on August 4, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

doubtful,

Don't be silly. It is irrational to suggest that the pharmaceutical and medical professions have no profit motive to cure diseases like diabetes. That's the same bizarre logic that insists that the BCS bowl system is better and more profitable viewing than a playoff. The people who cure cancer, or diabetes, or other dreadful human diseases, stand to make their fame and fortune from marketing those cures, not to mention a potential Nobel prize.

Credit card companies may profit from keeping people hooked on their product, but a pharma company that tries that, while someone else introduces a cure, will quickly go out of business. If you could grow a plant that magically produced all the money everyone needed to pay off their debts, regardless of circumstance and without negative consequences to people or the economy, would there be any profit remaining in issuing credit cards? No, but you could get a lot for that plant, I bet.

Posted by: INTJ on August 4, 2009 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Doubtful,

Saying the doctors and hospitals prefer to deal with Medicare is the "dishonest talking point". If not dishonest....it comes from ignorance of not having any connection to the medical field. In Illinois, hospitals face waits of 4-6 months ON AVERAGE for reimbursment by Medicare and Medicaid.

Your statement is simply ludicrous....and beyond debate by anyone in the know.

And if you can't get anything else right, at least get my name right......

Posted by: Major Bill on August 4, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

It is irrational to suggest that the pharmaceutical and medical professions have no profit motive to cure diseases like diabetes. -INTJ

Okay, drop the useless sports analogies, and put some numbers to it. How much money did private pharmaceutical companies invest in researching a cure for diabetes? Now compare that to how much they invested in erectile dysfunction. The motives you mention, fame and a Nobel prize are certainly meaningful to some researchers, but not to shareholders. Those researchers, I might add, are typically recipients of government grants.

Credit card companies may profit from keeping people hooked on their product, but a pharma company that tries that, while someone else introduces a cure, will quickly go out of business. -INTJ

Funny you should mention the credit industry, since both pharmaceutical and credit providers are guilty of intra-industry collusion that helps prevent such research.

If you could grow a plant that magically produced all the money everyone needed to pay off their debts... -INTJ

I've often discovered that analogy is the root of a weak argument or a weak mind; typically the result of someone who thinks they grasp the situation far beyond those around them but cannot find any other way to communicate that assumed greater understanding. This one takes the cake. That's quite possibly the silliest analogy I have ever read in my entire life.

Don't be silly. -INTJ

I suggest the same.

Posted by: doubtful on August 4, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

We should be lucky enough to get Canadian style healthcare.
Doubtful,

Reading is a skill. I was quoting MsJoanne:

"Ask any Canadian if they want the US healthcare system and not one will say yes. If any Canadian politician attempts to mess with their healthcare system, their political life is over. Period.

Canadians will not tolerate anyone screwing with their healthcare."

Her words, not mine.

But since you brought it up, your argument is disingenuous at best...and naive at worst. Trying to separate the 2 is impossible, and not a "tactic" of opponents.

I may be wrong, but has ANYONE else on this board heard the debate referred to....from Obama, Pelosi, Reid, ANYONE....as the great Health Insurance debate?

Though health insurance is a major part of the equation, by definition....it is the end-insurer which ulimately decides the quality of healthcare. If you and I cannot agree on this basic point, then I suppose will we never agree on anything.

You can split hairs and call this a health insurance debate....but that argument greatly reduces your overall credibility within this discussion.

Posted by: Major Bill on August 4, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

There are a number of questions that I would like considered:

1) who are the supposed 40,000,000 uninsured? Do they want insurance? Do they choose to not have insurance? How many of these are illegal aliens? How many are under 30?

2) If this idea is so good, why is the Congress EXEMPT from health care reform??? (Again, the great man of the people, Ted Kennedy, scores one for the fat cats.)

3) How can you possibly believe the cost estimates from any Federal government accounting office when they seemingly always grossly under-estimate program costs?? Where will the missing $500,000,000,000 come from?? We can't pay what the government is already on the hook for now (some $50,000,000,000,000) why are we digging a bigger hole??

4) Does it really matter which party is in control? The slow boat to bankruptcy (Republicans) or the bullet train (Democrats)??? Do either give a crap whether the Republic survives or not??

Posted by: Dwight on August 4, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

...at least get my name right... -Major Bill

Oh, bother. I'd suggest the same to you, since you feel compelled to capitalize that which I do not, but I'm not a pedantic twit, and honestly don't care. I can't tell you how many times I typed 'Major Tom,' a far better David Bowie song than you are a debater, so honestly, you should take it as a complement. Perhaps a chorus of tiny violins is in order to soothe your pained soul?

I'll try not to let it happen again.

I love how you hold up a piece of evidence concerning Medicare without offering the same dismal statistic from private insurers, as if, without comparison, it is in any way meaningful or ominous. Another right wing derailing tactic. Clearly you think we're all new.

I think this debate is over. Clearly, I lack access to your vast anecdotal reservoir and prefer to traffic in verifiable facts, and you slid into the realm of the petty. I've wasted enough of my time humoring you; you've clearly got to get back to informally polling your various clients.

Posted by: doubtful on August 4, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing contradictory between favoring single-payer as a long-term goal and promising that the current reforms being debated will not force you to change your insurance.

For that matter, if the public option provides better coverage and better service at a lower price than for-profit insurers and causes people to voluntarily choose it over the for-profit insurance industry, where is the tyranny in that?

As for choice, the last company I worked for had 3 different insurers in 3 years. During each open enrollment period we were forced to choose from new plans that offered less coverage, higher deductibles, higher copays and a higher employee share of the premiums than the previous year. The last year, the only choice was between two virtually identical plans from the same company, with the second plan having a higher monthly premium (difference paid for by employee) in return for a lower deductible, all other details of the plans were the same.

Please give me a health insurance exchange where I have a meaningful choice and real competition between insurers.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 4, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Glad to see that all comments are not welcome here.

Again, I need to point out that the study cited above by Americans for Insurance Reform was done by trial lawyers. I'm a lawyer, so I don't exactly have anything against them, but it's blatantly obvious here. That group is an arm of the Center for Justice and Democracy...which is a group of lawyers...who get paid from malpractice lawsuits. Not surprisingly, their study came to the conclusion that Congress shouldn't limit the amount that people can get for malpractice suits...because there is no problem there. This post should be gone pretty quickly though.

Posted by: Mike on August 4, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

MsJoan,

Sorry, I didn't take hours to research it. I'm guessing the profits didn't change in 2.5 years so dramatically as to make the hype about "ridiculous profits" accurate today. If you find something to prove me wrong, please do. Or just shake your head with the random unfounded assumption that I'm wrong. Either way.

Mike

Posted by: Mike on August 4, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Btw, Major Bill, you are a flat out liar. The WHO absolutely did not rank the U.S. #1.

Their last ranking was produced in 2000 and it ranked the U.S. 37th in overall performance and 72nd in overal health out of 191 nations included in the study.

Conservatives have been arguing for years that the WHO rankings are biased or meaningless, but at least most of them don't flat out lie about what those rankings were.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 4, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it isn't fair to call Major Bill a liar. It is possible that he just blindly repeated information he got from a lying source without taking the minute or so it would need to verify it.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 4, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes it is VERY distressing when Mr Obama's OWN WORDS are used against him. I do not know how one can say the video's take anything out of context. Mr. Drudge has now posted the full uncut version of the Obama speech to the Afl/Cio and one can clearly hear him saying he will seek to move the US to a single payer government run health care system but that it will take time to get us there.
You are an idiot if you don't think this is his goal and he is a liar when he now denies that it is.
If you actually believe that under US government control health care will improve you are not in full control of your senses.
Come to your senses and realize this is just a huge power grab and it will result in less freedom for the individual and higher taxes for the middle class.

Posted by: Steve W from Ford on August 4, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Commenters on this thread, please note. Major Bill, after his 12:40PM screed about how the private market was essential to have a functioning health insurance system got immediately swatted down by several commenters, did not respond to those comments, but quickly changed the subject to arguing about pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, etc.

There are equally-effective counter-arguments to those, but since he is obviously a know-nothing right-wing thug who will not engage in good-faith discourse, I'm not going to waste my time.

Posted by: divF on August 4, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ok Steve,

It's time for an update of this article. The uncut version put's this article outdated. I would suggest you change your title..whoops I acted to fast.

Posted by: Loadmaster on August 4, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Steve W and fredt, how many times does it have to be repeated? What Obama may have favored a few years ago and what he supports now when he has new information and needs to balance what would work best with what can be done are not necessarily the same things.

The current plan does NOT include any provisions by which the government would force you to give up an insurance plan that you like.

It may cause you to voluntarily give up that plan if a public option plan gives you better coverage at a lower price.

It may cause your employer to voluntarily switch providers. In this case, you will not have a choice, but that is just as it is under the current system when your employer changes providers.

Eventually, if most of the American people choose a public option, the insurance companies may not have enough business to continue offering health insurance. But that would be years down the road and would be a sign that the public plan worked better. That possibility is why the insurance companies are working like mad to keep a public option out of the mix, or put sharp limits on who would be allowed to choose it, or otherwise cripple it so that it can't compete.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 4, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

I recently overheard several neighbors talking about how much they opposed President Obama's historic health insurance reform initiative. I think one of them works for Blue Cross. Is this where I report them?

Posted by: Cuffy Meigs on August 4, 2009 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

It is silly to compare the US to countries like Sweden, given the vastly different population make-ups. Scandanavians in the US and in Scandanavia have similar health outcomes. What Scandanavia does not have are large populations originating from Africa who have vastly different health outcomes.

Compare like to like

Posted by: Asher on August 5, 2009 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Major Bull: Frivilous [sic] lawsuits put millions in the pockets of attorneys....while only a fraction makes it back to the true victims

Uhh, Major, if it's a "frivolous" lawsuit then it's without merit and there is no "victim." And in lawsuits with merit, that "fraction" that goes to the victim is typically 70 to 75 percent.

Posted by: carolatl on August 5, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly